Wrong for Management

When Management Isn't Right For You

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: I’ve been a manager now for close to a year, and I’ve concluded that managing others isn’t for me. I really like where I work and would love to stay here, but I don’t know how to move back to an individual contributor role. What should I do?

A: This is certainly a difficult challenge, but it’s not impossible to overcome. While a year may seem like a long time to you, it really isn’t much time to weigh a decision that will have a profound and lasting impact on your career. Before you pull the plug on management, consider these questions:

Do you have a mentor who might help you think this through? If so, and if that person can be trusted to keep your discussions confidential, ask for guidance. Your mentor may be able to help you see that you were promoted to your manager position for a reason and help you regain confidence in those skills and abilities.

What are the aspects of management that you don’t enjoy? Did something happen to make you question your commitment to being a manager? Do you have a difficult employee, for example? If so, ask for help from your supervisor or HR on how to handle that employee and see if resolving that issue takes away the pressure and your feelings of discontent.

Did something happen to make you question your commitment to being a manager? Do you have a difficult employee, for example? If so, ask for help from your supervisor or HR.

Have you taken advantage of resources to help you master the manager role? Hopefully, your organization offers managerial skills development programs. If not, there are plenty of online resources you can access on your own, including podcasts, webinars, and more.

Are you prepared to leave your current organization? If you decide to leave management, will there be another role you can see yourself taking in your organization? If not, you may have no choice but to work elsewhere.

Are you prepared to take a salary cut if you leave management? You may not have to accept a reduced salary if you move out of your management position, but you should research compensation for the roles you can see yourself moving into and, if it means a pay cut, consider whether that will work for you.

If, after careful consideration, you still want to return to a nonmanagement role at your current organization, prepare a script for a meeting with your supervisor. Practice what you plan to say, and ask a trusted colleague or family member to give you feedback. Be prepared for the possibility of a negative response, but if you’ve decided that this is the right path for you, commit to your choice.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].

Job Change Career Development