Not being – or wanting to be – a people manager doesn’t have to mean your career progression is limited. Depending on your skillset and personality, managing people may not necessarily be the best way to progress your career. There are many non-people management routes. Our suggestions?
Be an expert within your field
Become an undeniable expert in your field. Take advantage of every learning opportunity available, whether by staying up-to-date with all the latest trends or technologies, finding a mentor or attending a professional course. Seeking to grow your knowledge needs to become a habit, rather than a one-off task. Your area of expertise – like all professional fields – will continue change and evolve, and if you want to stay relevant and in the loop, you must commit to being consistently inquisitive and keen to learn more.
Grow your reputation
Look for opportunities to market your expertise both inside your existing organization and across your wider industry or network. You should be constantly adding to your resume and professional profile as you go along. There are also other ways you can actively enhance your professional reputation:
Promote yourself on social media: Connect with the right people and begin building your reputation online. Share relevant content and get involved in industry forum discussions. Starting a blog is another good way to share your expert insights and demonstrate your knowledge in a particular area and is a good way to build a targeted following.
Seek out speaking opportunities: Get out there and share your knowledge face-to-face. Look out for opportunities to speak or present at upcoming conferences, team meetings or at industry events.
Offer to train others: Whether it’s new starters or other departments in the business, this is one sure-fire way to showcase your knowledge and build your reputation within your current organization, without directly managing others.
Share your ideas: Be proactive in generating and sharing your ideas, not just surrounding your immediate role, but also for the wider business. This will show others in your organization that, like a true expert, you can think outside the box and understand the bigger picture.
Consider other opportunities
If you are unable to progress your career by following a non-people management route in your current company, you could consider the below options. These will all offer career progression in one way or another, whether it’s an increase in responsibility, income, professional development or all three:
Join another organization: Speak to a recruiter to discuss the career opportunities available at other organizations. Many companies will offer non-people management progression paths, such as being a project manager, with the scope to take on incremental responsibilities as you go along.
Become an independent contractor: Becoming a contractor will offer you progression in the sense that you would be more focused on the skills you were hired to deploy, and more conscientious in applying these skills as best you can for the sake of your future contracts.
Work as a consultant: In a similar vein, as a consultant you would be subcontracted by a company to provide specialist knowledge. This would incentivize you to develop your skills even further to keep up with your competitors, and for the sake of repeat business. Again, this option is progression in terms of both responsibility and expertise.
Train others: If you are really good at what you do, people will hire you to come and train their employees. Teaching others will help you to clarify and build upon your knowledge, keeping it fresh and relevant.
Whilst in many organizations the career path of an aspiring people manager is easier to envisage, if you can focus on developing a set of skills and carve your niche that way, you will establish yourself as an expert in your area. This will open your world up to a range of promising non-people management progression paths.