Transitioning From a Technical to a Management Role

What you really need to know and accomplish before making the move


When we AMTs first enter the workplace we may think we are in the location and position where we will work for a considerable period of time, if not our entire career. Not necessarily so for those AMTs that consistently demonstrate dedication, loyalty, and excellent performance in the workplace.

Some will have the opportunity to decide if they want to move into a management position. The decision to move from a technical position into management is significant and should be taken only after abundant research, careful deliberation, wise counsel, and appropriate preparation. Like many of life’s challenges the opportunity to move into management comes as a surprise or most often at an inopportune time. There are waypoints in your career when you can expect to have this opportunity to move into a management position.

One is when your company is in flux. Modern companies are dynamic entities that change continuously. These changes often result in adjustments or additions to the management staff. The other opportunities will come when you have been with your company between five to 10 years, and when you feel that you “want more” in your personal and work life. The truth is that the opportunity to move into management can come on any given day and you need to be ready to take advantage when it arrives.

Make the decision and be prepared to make the move

Understand that management is not for everyone. This is as it should be because we need and want to work for, and with, effective managers. If your skills and personality profile are not a match for the requirements of the management position and you go after it anyway, the consequential failure may cause you and your family long-term grief. The stress of being ineffective will diminish you and your direct report’s quality of work life and waste valuable company resources.

Many AMTs readily choose the path to management and are very successful and satisfied with their choice. The successful ones will tell you to plan on getting the opportunity, and trust your instincts and those of your manager’s, especially if they have recommended you for the position. Both of you will know when you are ready and you will find the courage to take on the challenge.

How can an AMT prepare beforehand for these challenges and requirements? Conduct a self-assessment that will help you determine your personality type, communication style, and capabilities. Conduct an organizational and management analysis to determine if this is the company and the management staff that you want to build a future with.

Take this input and build and implement a flexible self-development program to address all your limitations. Apply your knowledge and seek practice opportunities that will build your personal confidence and help develop the required management competencies.

Assess skills, experience, and maturity level

Taking a personality test is a great way to determine if you are a match for a management position and critical input to your self-development program. Human resources (HR) departments and management search firms often use a personality test to identify the best candidates for their open management positions. Take an objective look at your test results and if you think you have the personality to manage and lead then begin your organizational assessment.

Conduct the organizational assessment

This is a very important step because moving into a management position is like a marriage. It will be a long-term commitment and a move that will impact your life, your families, as well as your direct reports. Therefore choose wisely.

You want to know how your company has performed in the past, is currently performing, and the prospect for future growth. In particular, are there mergers and acquisitions in play? Review the posted goals and mission statements and consider the spoken value and ethics. Observe how that flows down through the management ranks to front line employees and customers. In other words, does your company walk the talk? Clearly determine if your values and ethics match or are different from the corporate and management culture. If you do not want to be part of or support that culture, consider staying in your technical position or move to another company.

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