Do You Have What It Takes to Become a Manager?

Before setting your sights on the corner office, decide whether you really want to be a manager.

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Recent graduates and entry-level employees often step into the workforce with an eye on moving into management. The thinking is that with a management title comes more money, respect, and power—but that’s not always the case. Being a middle manager comes with its own set of frustrations. Before setting your sights on the corner office, keep the following things about management in mind.

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1. You realize how little power you really have.

The majority of ideas that you wish to implement must be approved by your managers. An inordinate amount of time is spent selling top management on changes. This major hierarchical stumbling block sets you up with all of the responsibility without any of the authority. Plus, it’s a time drainer that takes you away from the work that has to get done.

2. You realize you still need to do your old job too.

Many people push for a promotion so that they can earn more money, show advancement on their resume, and ultimately have more power. If you ask enough times, many employers will give you the manager job you desire. The problem is there is often no one to step in to do your old job. Especially in a down economy, middle managers are often expected to do more with less.

3. There is more paperwork than you ever imagined.

If a clear desk equals a clear mind, get ready for a cluttered brain. As a manager you will now be privy to a slew of forms and policies that you never knew existed. From keeping track of your staff’s sick and vacation time to filling out purchase requisition forms, there’s a piece of paper for everything. If you suffer from papyrophobia, you might want to think twice before joining the management brigade.

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4. You can’t control other people.

There are a myriad of tactics a manager can employ to get the most out of employees, but in reality, you do not have control over their actions. Up to this point, your career has taken off because of your work, experience, and success. Now you will be judged on the performance of other people. Most of the time, staff is inherited. If you’re lucky, you’ll work with people you like and respect. It’s also a plus if they are relatively new to the organization. But if you are unlucky, you will find yourself playing a chess game with lifers, dead weight, and other office misfits.

5. Career flexibility diminishes.

Before becoming a manager, employees believe that the only way to succeed is to move up the corporate ladder. To some extent that is true, but do not be surprised if your options are reduced once you advance up the rungs. As a manager your job becomes narrower in scope, exposing you less and limiting your career opportunities in the process. Sure there are plenty of manager jobs out there, but the distance between you and the director level quickly becomes evident. You are now making more money too, meaning that a number of open positions at other companies no longer apply to you—unless you are willing to take a step backwards.

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6. Is the extra money worth the hours and responsibility?

I’ve seen $60,000-a-year jobs end up equating to $12 an hour. As a manager, will you have a Blackberry albatross around your neck? Are you expected to work late nights and weekends? Since most people work for the money, you need to make sure that the management job you’re eying is worth your time. Jobs are more complex than simply breaking them down to an hourly wage, you have to account for benefits, enjoyment, and other intangibles. If you believe that time is money, or that the clock is the world’s greatest asset, getting promoted to manager is not always the best use of this one-of-a-kind resource.

No one is suggesting you turn down a management position. But you should be prepared when you get there. The grass is always greener on the other side, and after a few months or years in management, you might look back fondly on your days as an entry-level worker.

Andrew G. Rosen is the founder and editor of Jobacle.com, a career advice blog. He is also the author of How to Quit Your Job.