Whilst we have seen many patterns of management failure over the last 20 years, one standout is the frequency with which technical specialists get promoted into general management type roles without any diagnostics to understand if they are ready for this transition and without any individualised support once they are put into the role. In order to understand this transition better, let’s briefly look at what is different in a GM type role that technical specialists are going to struggle with.
First and foremost, in a GM type role the person will have to make decisions outside their core area of expertise. This is a real problem for technical specialists, as their self-concept is built around their mastery of an area of technical expertise. The second consistent issue is that technical experts rely on doing ‘actual work’ to get job satisfaction. When they step into a GM type role, the expectation is that they transcend the focus on tasks and learn to achieve through others. Some people make this transition quickly and well, yet others struggle and may not adjust at all, so what is going on?