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Posted: 10/26/2004 9:57:17 PM EDT
Maybe someone out there could help me out with some career advise.

I'm a tech guy (cisco router guy), and I've got a great job. Problem is this: I like tech work - solving problems, engineering network upgrades, etc. But I've gotten good enough at it that I've been promoted to manager of all the network guys in the shop. I like the tech work, but I don't like managing anyone. I won't get into all the reasons why I don't like the management position. But I know this is generally the path that you're supposed to take for more money, responsibility, etc.

So on the one hand I can go on with this management stuff - make more $ and be more miserable.... maybe I'll get to like it eventually, who knows.

Or on the other hand, I can demote myself, have some fun solving tech problems, and wonder if I made the right decision by not "striving for success". Maybe I'll regret not taking on more "challenge"???

If it matters, I'm in my early 30's. I make good money, and I doubt I'd take a big monetary hit with a "demotion".
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 10:08:51 PM EDT
Money is in management or sales. The rest are just grunt jobs like being a tech. If you like being a tech and don't want the money, just do that. But to really move up it is all about management. They can always hire cheap labor out of college. You get paid for responsibility, which means managing people.

Maybe see how things are on the sales side. No management but you need to out there selling.

Personally I can't do anything, which is why I'm a teacher.
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 10:23:04 PM EDT
The only thing available to you along those lines is to become a specialist, which will require certifications.
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 10:25:10 PM EDT
Every time I got put into the 'manager' position, I hated it. You end up dealing with all the moronic crap from people both above and below you. You don't get the filter you usually have. You ARE the crap filter.

And what's worse is if you actually like doing the work, you don't get the time to do it.

Supervising was actually the best balance of the two worlds- higher pay, a little more responsibility, but you still get to do the work, and help out other people doing the work for / with you.

In short, you're probably screwed.

Link Posted: 10/27/2004 12:35:17 AM EDT
Look at whether your job as a tech will even exist in a few more years. Mine only exists in India now.
Link Posted: 10/27/2004 1:52:58 AM EDT
I speak from experience. Nothing is forever. You had a wonderful time being a geek. But that ends and now you are management. Your goal is to make more money when you can because this climate of change will continue for the next 50-100 years as technology creates new technology. It is the self licking ice cream cone. Make money and invest it in realestate and an IRA. Buy yourself some nice toys and think about how lucky you do not live in the third world. But be prepared in case your job goes there. Good luck.
Link Posted: 10/27/2004 2:05:35 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/27/2004 2:07:58 AM EDT by 4get_No1]
No flame intended, but a lot of the time it seems like being a manager is just a high paying babysitting job. You'll sure find out how well you can cope with "people problems".

<ETA> Wow - that sure sounded negative. It's really just a strong caution. Recognize that it comes with the territory though.
Link Posted: 10/27/2004 3:57:16 AM EDT

Originally Posted By libertarian:
I like the tech work, but I don't like managing anyone. .

Become self-employed. Think about it anyway.

Part of the secret to happiness in life is to figger out what you are good at, and do it.

We spend too many hours working to hate the work we do.

If you've recognized the above about yourself / personality, you'd be foolish to fight it.

Link Posted: 10/27/2004 4:03:28 AM EDT
Line all of the people you hate in a boardroom and say "You're Fired".
Link Posted: 10/27/2004 4:06:15 AM EDT
Depending on how Cisco experience you have (CCNP or CCIE), look for a tech job elsewhere.
What state are you in? If you are anywhere near a metro area, you will find work assuming you know what you are doing. I have been designing cisco networks for about 8 years now...and unless you are completely against the management position, if it were me, I would probably enjoy the change of pace. As you already know, there is pretty good money in what we do...and for the most part its a fun job. I say either seek what you want elsewhere....or stick with what you have. Electing to voluntarily demote oneself is not a good career move....and you will never be given the chance to move up again (which some day you may want/need)

Good luck (if you are in the Philly/NYC metro areas - or willing to relocate, there are jobs - monster.com or dice)
Link Posted: 10/27/2004 4:13:58 AM EDT
I would recommend you give it time and try to make the mgt position work. Thats the key to moving into the higher salary brackets which is necessary for homes, cars, college eds, etc... Money is not everything but it sure helps to have plenty these days.

If you are really good a what you do and have a network of clients and great reputation, then become a consultant where you work for yourself, make big money, and dont have to deal with the people problems.

I have been managing people since 1990 and it does suck sometimes. I like doing project work and the position does not allow the time to do it properly. However it is kinda nice to be able to tell people what to do.

My ultimate goal is to have my own business or be a consultant when I am in my mid-50's. I am laying the groundwork for that by maintaining network contacts, producing quality work, etc...
Link Posted: 10/27/2004 4:14:44 AM EDT
Dude...stay in management.

It takes about a year or two to get the hang of it but once you do it kicks ass.

A few keys to managemnet.

1) Always give the workers more work than they can get done.

2) Always as co-workers for input, but YOU make the decisions

3) Be firm and keep a clear vision

4) Every once in awhile do something nice for your workers, even simple stuff like get them a cup of coffee.

5) Be fair, I once fired a friend of mine because he couldn't show up to work on time.

and read a good book about managment

Link Posted: 10/27/2004 4:25:47 AM EDT
Take a position on the leading edge of your company's/industry's direction. Ask yourself many questions. Where is this company or industry heading. Is nano-tech the future? I don't know....but I suppose you know a great deal about yoour field. If you don't, learn now!

Read and study. Become the innovator. Be an idea man. Find a mentor in the upper reaches of your company...someone who is a mover and a shaker in the industry. Don't cocoon in your job. Always be looking for the next step that makes you more marketable.

Even if you are an employee, remember that everyone works for themselves. The only reason you boss keeps you around is because it has been determined that you produce more than you cost. Make yourself very valuable. If your current customer (employer) doesn't recognize your increased value, someone else will. But that will only happen if you improve your worth and make yourself visible to others in your industry.

BTW, your question is one that every person who want to earn income should ask themselves on a regular basis. You are one perceptive person.
Link Posted: 10/27/2004 4:31:29 AM EDT
The key to enjoying management for me is simple: don't try to manage the people, manage the work. Look, people don't like to be "managed." Well, most people anyway. What they do like is to be given a task and the tools and resources to accomplish the task. If you start micro-managing them too much, they become disenfranchised, bored and generally dissatisfied with their jobs. Use your management position to guide and direct those under your supervision, but don't expect them to be just like you or do things exactly the way you would.
Link Posted: 10/27/2004 4:36:33 AM EDT
Link Posted: 10/27/2004 4:46:41 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/27/2004 4:49:11 AM EDT by SavageSlackie]
I'm in technology also. Network/desktop support tech.

my golden rule i try to live by.

"If your not happy its not worth doing."

if you wake up every morning despising the though of going to work, change job or position.

Being a Cisco tech your in pretty high demand depending on your certs you have. If you know VOIP at all you should have no problem finding a good tech job.

On the other hand, i don't know what kind of financial situation you are in so maybe you need the $ that the managerial position gives.

Link Posted: 10/27/2004 5:23:11 AM EDT
Hi there,
I'm a techie too, and have moved up in the ranks. The way to deal with being a manager is to still stay hands on doing the things you like. Defer as much of the BS as possible to the HR department if there is one.

We have all had bad bosses/managers, and some of us have had good bosses. Try to be a good boss, try to lead by example. Be the kind of boss you would like to have.

I use a set of leadership principles I found in a US Naval Institute magazine: FACE

F- Front, lead from the front, know the problems and issues, mentor the new guys and help them learn.
A - Accept responsibilty, if anything bad happens, its your fault, even if it was one of your "guys" who did it.
C - Care about your people, get them the training they need, show them how to solve problems, give them raises if they deserve them, praise is good. By the same token, a bad egg in the bunch will make life suck for everyone in the group, get rid of bad eggs. Get to know them as individuals, be a nice guy!
E - Earn the respect and support as a leader. Respect is not something you inherit, you have to earn it.

IT is a tough field for managers, non-technical managers get no respect from technical people, but a lot of technical people do not have the people skills to be managers. There is nothing wrong with being a hands on network/router guy for your career, but maybe you might like being a CIO or head network architect. Having the understand you do of network level stuff is very valuable knowledge, but maybe your knowledge is more valuable supporting other aspects of the business and mentoring new network people.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Link Posted: 10/27/2004 5:29:19 AM EDT
I am EXACTLY where you are ... a tech person that is now in a management position.

Here is how I deal with it ....

I still do tech work along with my employees ...

I force myself to delegate and structure it in such a way as to inspire my folks to learn...

I view using my "people skills" in a challanging way, similar to solving problems with computers, poeple are much more complicated machines than computers or networks. This, in my case is extra challenging, because two of my workers are total liberals! and they are the most worthless of the bunch!

I take my money from my pay raise and enjoy myself at home knowing Im not "on call" anymore
Link Posted: 10/27/2004 5:35:20 AM EDT
My $.02 FWIW

Managers are usually eliminated rather than outsourced. They can always outsource a technical position. Most of the time they keep manager positions around to manage the vendors.

I hate management too, but I am good at it. I hate computers and networks, but I am really good at it. I would leave the field all together if I could find another career that would pay as well. I am currently paying off all the debt I can, so I can change careers.

dave MCSE NT 4.0/2000, CCNP, etc....
Link Posted: 10/27/2004 5:56:44 AM EDT
There is not enough money in the world to compensate for a job that you hate.

While working, I was offered an office position, and turned it down. I ran HVAC service for almost 20 years and also 'took a vacation' and worked as an instructor in a trade school. I MUCH prefer doing the work in the trenches, and a management job just meant a LOT more headaches and little satisfaction. Had I been pushed into management, I wuld have quit.

The best job advice I have ever heard is, "You gotta like it." NOTHING beats getting up in the morning and going to work at a job you truly enjoy. Money is not God to me, and I prefer to save my 'people skills' for the family. Ops
Link Posted: 10/27/2004 6:01:56 AM EDT
I was in your shoes 6 yrs ago. Had a high stress job, telco switching translations (database programing) & working for a rude abrasive onbnoxious snarly nasty straight razor totin' cast iron bitch who was completely clueless and unsupportive about anything technical.

I took a demotion. Went from $48k salary to $45k hourly. I retreated to being a switching systems tech. The pay cut didn't pan out, with overtime, the first year I made $50k & it's been higher every year since. I went from being trapped in a cubicle to mobility with a company truck and a territory to cover. <trying not to brag > I am over educated & way over skilled for the job I do but I REALLY enjoy my work and the autonomy it provides.

Being tech oriented as you are, you'll soon discover, after a "retreat" you will be happier. The money while nice, doesn't make up for the (as previously stated) babysitting aspect of management IMHO.

The down side of a retreat that you should be aware of is once you go down your company will be very reluctant to ever promote you again.

As for other places to apply your skills, the telco biz is going to be around a long time, although it is evolving. There are huge numbers of people that were hired in the early 70's who are going to retire in the next 5 years. Telcos are actively seeking people with network qualifications. BTW, don't think just the big companies need people, there are 100's of mid & small telcos out there.

If you make the move now, in your 30's, by the time you are in your 40's you won't be looking back in regret.
Link Posted: 10/27/2004 7:38:36 AM EDT
First, a warning: asking other for advice on job/career is a lot like asking them to pick a girlfriend for you.

Anyway, my suggestion is to sit down and do a rational evaluation of what you enjoy doing, and what you dont. Take two pieces of paper, on one list things you really enjoy doing and are good at. On the other list things you hate doing and feel you are bad at. Then take a third piece of paper and write down the joib description of the job you are doing - your description, not that of the company. Put all three side by side. If the majority of what you are doing is on the positive side, just recognize that every job has some parts you won't like. However, if its mainly on the nagative side, you probably want to look for another job - that may be with the same company or not, but use your lists to help guide you in looking at jobs. Don't be afraid to add to each list as new topics occur to you.

Its not impossible to find jobs which are mostly good (for you), but it will take some time, and you probably won't find them just by looking at job ads on monster.com or your local newspaper. Use your contacts - all your contacts, in your business area or not, make a time specifically to sit down with them and explain that you are considering a job change, you have an idea of the sort of job you are looking for, and ask their advice on where they think jobs like that might be.

Most will listen, but not have anything immediate to suggest - but you will have planted the question in their minds, and if any one of them ever comes across someone with a job like that, they will remember you and pass on the info - you effectively co-opt these people into aiding your job search.

If you are serious about a change, you might want to talk with one of the companies that specialise in helping people find a new career after being laid off. But one word of warning, just about any of these companies will tell you that finding a GOOD job is, in itself, a full-time job.


If you don't want to go through the full analysis and job description formulation and search, and are really convinced that you just want to continue with the tech work and skip management (and there are really many people in this camp) then think seriously about how good you really are, and if you are as good as you think, then look at consultancy as a job.

Consultancy pays money (you won't get seriously rich this way, but at least comfortable - $100k+), but you have to be able to deal with rapid change, with clients who are idiots -- it helps knowing you can walk away at any time, and there is an end in sight, with travel, and quite often long hours.

Also depending on how you do this - self-employed, contracting company with W2 pass-through, or simply as an employee of a contracting company there will be differeing amounts of admin tasks (at least keeping track of billable hours and expense reports), and some uncertainty about whether you will be working for the next month -- the extra money you get helps here - you just need to sock some away to cover the dry spells -- if you are as good as you think, there won't be too many dry spells, and those that do happen will be short.

Management as a job generally sucks in most US companies, unless you can get to the exec. levels (hint: as a techie, you will never get there). Middle management tends to have lots or responsibility with no authority - its your fault, but you have no control, and you tend to be put into horrible situations where you end up having to choose who to screw of those who work for you. If you have other options, I, personally, would avoid that route.
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