Here's my idealistic and possibly 80% workable opinion: Everybody who wants to try management, should get to try management. Period.
(OK, now for some fine print...)
1) the org needs what the org needs, and management is expensive overhead. No inventing more hierarchy to satisfy someone's curiosity, just like we don't invent erlang projects to satisfy Erlang Guy. You may need to switch employers.
2) You should want for roughly the right reasons. Curiosity is fine. If you want it for power, prestige and comp then your org is fucked and your reports will come to resent you.
(Leaders, do you want new managers signing up for money and power? Then fix your incentives.)
3) Management is a big basket of skills. Lots of them can and should be exercised and built *before* your title is "manager" and you have a team.
- Get an intern!
- Ask your manager if you can take on a few of their regular tasks
- Learn to run meetings and own a room
- get good at time management
- work on your code review skills. Solicit feedback.
- volunteer to manage the on boarding experience
- offer to lead a project, or project manage one
- get VERY good at giving feedback and having direct conversations towards a good outcome
4) (the list is endless). Ask your manager. You should be able to discuss this freely and openly, without attachment to outcomes. Which brings me to:
Clearly state your interest in managing. Managers aren't mind readers. I try to ask my reports, but it's on you too.
When a new management slot opens up, the ideal situation is always that you have someone internal whose career aspirations are well known to you -- that the two of you have been discussing and developing these skills for a long time.
If you don't think they're right for it or ready for it, it's better to have that conversation openly *before* there's a job on the line and emotions get high. Give them a chance to grow.
5?) 6?) lol... In the end, the best arbiter of whether someone is ready to be a manager is sometimes not their manager, it's their would-be reports. Always quietly check in with folks: "how would you feel about reporting to $x? How strongly? Why?"
Use discernment when interpreting these responses too, of course: bias, jealousy and personal beefs can crop up anywhere. But it often reveals a very different side of them.
Managers can be fooled by a person's stated reasons for managing, but peers never are.
You can follow @mipsytipsy.
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