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How To Develop Your Experts When They Don’t Want To Be Managers?

May 26, 2016

by admin


The modern concept of career success needs updating. Most of us have grown up with the understanding that a promotion to a managerial role = career success. We use the expression ‘climbing the ladder’ about careers because we’re indoctrinated into believing that an upwards trajectory to management—and ultimately senior management— is the only route to success available to us in the corporate world.



But if we accept that not everyone wants to be (or should be) managers, then where does this leave our many experts and scientists in the life sciences field who have no interest whatsoever in being managers?


Are your experts pushed into management roles?

In a recent American study, the data suggests that only a third of people wish to be managers, and a tiny 7% aspire to be top-level managers. For those of us who’ve always wanted to be managers this can be a strange concept, and we often make the mistake of trying to convince, cajole or even coerce our best people towards management roles they don’t even want.

In the life sciences field, there are a huge number of extremely talented individuals who have no desire to be managers. They want to progress in their career, but they don’t want to be in a position of responsibility for others. These people: scientists, sales representatives, MSLs, technicians etc— are absolutely vital to company and industry success, yet their lack of interest or aptitude in leadership often means that their career stalls, or that they’re ‘pushed’ into a managerial role against their will, or reluctantly accept that the only way to increases their salaries is to become a manager.


Is this fair? No. Is it squandering their true potential? Yes. 



Those who don’t want to be managers often find that their training and development is neglected, leading to a loss of engagement and a sense that they are undervalued. Their salaries also tend to stagnate. These neglected employees will often leave the company seeking new challenges- a massive waste of potential and an unnecessary ‘brain-drain’ on the business.

The first thing to do is sit down with each member of your team and assess whether they want to be developed towards management, or whether they’d prefer skills training that will build their skills diversity, will allow them to increase their salary in future, and perhaps allow them to make sideways moves to other roles and departments to keep things interesting and help the business by utilising their broad range of skills in other areas of the business.

Fact: It’s important for all employees to be challenged to improve- not just the ones who have expressed the desire to be a manager.

Be careful here though-the same study mentioned above also revealed that many people simply don’t make their wishes for management promotion known because they;

  • have low self-belief,
  • feel that they don’t have the necessary education or skills,
  • or just think they won’t be given a promotion so they don’t try.



These employees do want to be managers but they’re silent about their aspirations, so there’s enormous potential for improvement in this cohort.

Next steps

To find out who is who, schedule a one-one-one meeting with everybody to find out what their vision of success truly looks like. Make an action plan on how you can develop each person to their maximum potential, without being blinded by the traditional ‘ladder’ model.

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