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Currently I am working in a company as a manager (software dev). But I only have 6.8 yrs experience. I joined this company as a software engineer and got promoted to SSE, Lead, and Manager. Some of my team members have better experience than I, and I feel like I need to have more exposure/experience to take these roles. I feel like it is better to be an individual contributor and learn many things for another couple of years and become a Principal Software Engineer, rather than getting involved in management.

Options I have:

  1. Ask my current employer to make me an individual contributor?
  2. Find a new company and join as an SSE to start over?
  3. Find a new company for a lead position?

Please advise.

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closed as off topic by gnat, Walter, maple_shaft Nov 6 '12 at 12:05

Questions on Programmers Stack Exchange are expected to relate to software development within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Although an interesting question, with some good answers, I'm not so sure this is on-topic here? –  Andrew Nov 6 '12 at 11:16
General career advice is offtopic on Programmers. –  maple_shaft Nov 6 '12 at 12:05

4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

In my experience, deciding the roles are tradeoffs between money, power, recognition and value.

The career ladder in each organization is different. Some organizations follows the normal flow of technical stream to management stream. In my opinion, any given title to the employees must be decided with the career ambition of employee and business priorities of the organization.

On the other hand companies tends to generate roles which are not really relevent but at least for the sake of keeping people happy with promotions and grooming up for higher roles. But mostly these roles will not have any meaty work to do. For e.g. in one of the organizations I worked has Technical manager role which has nothing to do with the nature of the work they do there. It was attributed as the equal role of a project manager but project managers were the rockstars. TM role was for the people who reluctant to move to management stream or people who has no people and project management abilities. Later several people who were genuinely taken Technical Manager role has been cribbed to move to Project Management stream as they found it seldom helps the organization and career.

You can count as many number of smart people in the organization. Even if you pick up individual contributor role you can find smart people in the junior level. Also a high performance organization prefers to work with smart people and people who pushes themselves always for better performance. So going back to individual contributor role is relative. for e.g. I worked with an image processing project. I had few wickedly smart team members who knows maths to the core. They make things happen my role is to facilitate and ask right questions to them and make sure is delivered with right quality.

Asking right question is not an easy job. You should have better understanding about the business needs, business priorities, employees capabilities etc. Mostly you will have to have a wider perspective of the things being executed under you. And it's great if you have indepth knowledge in something specific area.

People used to get promoted based on Peter Priciple as well. but that rarely happens. It's to reduce the damage caused by incompetent people in the execution level.

Considering your experience, I feel it's too early to be a manager stream. But it's again depends on size and company structure. If you can define your role clearly in the management stream, then that's great. Don't measure things merely with technical terms. A right manager is something beyond technical. Also getting an undeserved role in an organization can make you incompetent and an underdog in the industry. Please put your priorities and capabilities and decide what exactly you need to have going forward in your career. Also compare how your day to day job will be relevant if you move to a new organization. All the best.

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Not all programmers have an aptitude for management (as programming and managing require slightly different skill sets). Perhaps your bosses think you are capable. Why second guess them?

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Define slightly! –  mattnz Nov 6 '12 at 7:42
Anna makes a good point. Evaluate yourself more. –  Geek Nov 6 '12 at 8:56

People have had good success in talking with their Senior Management and presenting the case that at the time you were the best choice for the position, but you feel that there is someone better suited for the job at this time. Let them know that you would like to take a role that you feel is going to let you grow, to be better prepared to continue your role again in the future, and when the time comes.

The Senior Management will hopefully have the experience and the wisdom to take your advisement under consideration, as they already trust you to make these kinds of decisions in the interest of the company. This shows a level of commitment to the quality of service that you want to provide and a fulfillment of the trust they placed in you to promote you to that position in the first place They will recognize that this role placement will give them an even better manager in the future.

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I never quite understand the logic that, because you are a good engineer, you get promoted to project management or discipline management. Good engineers are good engineers because they have the aptitude for engineering, not project management or paper shuffling.

To answer your question, I need to ask two of my own:

  1. Do you enjoy working for your company?
  2. Does your company have a Technical Leadership route?

If (yes) to both, then the No Brainer is to talk with your manager or HR and explain your feelings.

The company obviously thinks you are a worthwhile asset, otherwise you wouldn't have been promoted...

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Here is my current position: The Upper/Senior Management who promoted me got changed. We have a new Upper Management and currently I am not valued much with manager role. Do you enjoy working for your company? Yes Does your company have a Technical Leadership route? No –  User11091981 Nov 6 '12 at 6:52

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