Not every employee can become a manager but there is an alternative that could work for both employees and employers

June 29, 2022


The career path of many employees includes a series of promotions to team leader or manager (requiring the individual to acquire managerial skills and responsibilities).

There are certain benefits and responsibilities that come with this progression, e.g.:

  • Pay – the pay levels increase;
  • Title – gives a feeling of more importance, recognises development and brings respect;
  • Responsibility – managers would take responsibility for their team performance and delivery of projects;
  • Interaction – increased interaction as a team player and is the responsibility of the manager to look after the team;
  • Flexibility – managers may get to decide on the timeframes for the projects and have more flexibility to focus on areas which are of more interest to them.

At the same time managerial positions may be more stressful in a number of ways:

  • Emotional intelligence – managers will need to look after wellbeing of the team and deal with personal issues of employees working in the them;
  • Communication skills and public speaking – managers need to communicate well and make presentations, sometimes to audiences outside their team or company;
  • Employee development – managers need to be able to develop the people who report to them.

The most productive person in the team may be the one who gets promoted to the position of the team leader or manager. The employer will look for ways to recognise his/her achievements (and retain their skills within the business) which would often lead to the promotion. But what are the qualities of the most productive employees? Are they equipped and do they have the right attributes to become successful managers? If not a role as an individual contributor (“IC”) might be attractive for a number of reasons:

  • Focus – an IC would normally get more time to focus (with fewer distractions) and develop their core skills to produce outstanding performance;
  • Speciality – an IC could obtain and focus on a certain speciality valuable to the employer, thus becoming an expert in a certain field, which in turn would lead to a higher pay;
  • Responsibility – typically, an IC would only be responsible for their own work and actions (although they are likely to report to a line manager).

Some individuals, who may not wish or do not have the key attributes to become a manager, may nonetheless be of significant and continuing value to a business. Not every successful IC can become a successful manager but their employer may wish to retain their skills and experience in the business. If the company does not invest the time and effort to put in place a career progression paths for both managers and valuable ICs, it risks losing those skills and experience to its competitors, at a time when the UK is an employees’ market. As an adviser in strategic reward, MM&K is well-placed to provide support and advice.

For more details, please contact Margarita Skripina.

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