If you’re an expert in your field, you probably entered your current career because of a passion in that particular field.To improve your prospects, you may have obtained an academic or technical qualification or worked your way up through the organisation to get into the position you currently occupy.
In the early stages of your career, all went well and you gained excellent experience. After a while, however, you started to realise that, if you wanted to progress up the ranks, you had to get into a management position that offers some sense of achievement and status, as well as greater authority and a welcome increase in earnings.
But the downside was that, with the increased status, pay and authority, you also had to do something you never really signed up for – manage people.
And so, like many other passionate professionals, you’ve ended up playing two roles – one role you are well qualified to play, in terms of your technical expertise, and one you’re not so qualified to play, in terms of managing the people who now report to you.
If this resonates with you, you’re not alone. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been engaged in a very lively conversation with a wide range of highly experienced HR Directors, which started with me posing two questions to them. The first question was: Do you have people in management positions who are technically highly skilled but who don’t have the same level of expertise in managing people? The overwhelming response to this was, “Yes”.
The second question I asked them was: If YES, about what percentage would you say this constitutes of your management ranks?
Wow! Was I surprised by the answers that came back? There were a couple of answers in the 90s with one HR Director putting the percentage as high as 99%. Others gave a spread of percentages which ran across the 80s, 70s, 60s, 50s, 40s and 30s. When I calculated the average percentage, it came to 59%. That means that, based on my rather unscientific poll, almost six out of every 10 expert professionals managing people in their companies are not equipped to do so – and probably don’t enjoy doing so either!
Think about what this must be costing organisations in terms of badly managed performance, disengaged employees, low retention, low productivity, not to mention the high conflict, high stress levels and high staff turnover.
The question I would now like to pose to you is: Are YOU one of those (probably frustrated) technical or professional experts who has landed up having to manage people because that was the only way up?
If so, my guess is that this has become a major source of stress for you. When all is said and done, there are only two fundamental causes of stress and both are probably at work in your life right now.
The one cause is that you are not feeling fully in control of your world right now and the other cause is that you’re having to do something you don’t want to do.
Have your partner or children told you to stop being so grumpy? Do you snap at them or want to be left alone? Are you irritated by small talk at home or at the office? Mmmmm … Those are all very subtle symptoms of stress.
Is there hope for you? Of course!
Let’s address the second cause first. If you’re doing something you don’t want to do, the obvious solution is to stop doing it. But if you can’t stop doing it, you have to reframe the way you see what you have to do. That means you have to challenge what you think you know to be right and true so that you come to understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
When you start to see that managing people is a part of who and what you are now in your current role, and you accept this – really accept this – as part of your role at work, you set yourself free from that deep seated resentment of having to do something you really don’t want to do. This releases a whole lot of that unrecognised stress that’s been eating you alive.
To deal with the first cause of stress I mentioned, you have to do things to start feeling you’re in control of your situation. An obvious way you can reduce this stress is by upskilling yourself with people management skills. When you feel more competent to deal with the issues that arise from managing people, you will start to feel more in control of your world and then over time experience a significant reduction in stress levels.
So, if you’re an expert in your field who’s resenting the need to have to manage people, reframe how you view your people management role, upskill yourself by exposing yourself to smart people-management tips and techniques (like those in our newsletters) and move toward a much more productive and stress free future!
Alan Hosking is the Publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net. In 2018, Alan was named by US-based web site Disruptordaily.com as one of the “Top 25 Future of Work Influencers to Follow on Twitter“. For the past 18 years, HR Future has, through high quality content presented in print and digital formats as well as live training, helped Executives and People Managers prepare for the Future of Work by giving them the knowledge and insights they need to lead their people into a better reality.