Looking for Career Advice - Being a High Performing (Enterprise) IC vs. People Manager

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Alex Tran
Alex Tran Member Posts: 38 Expert
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edited August 2023 in CS Conversations

Hey GGR family!

I'm currently an Individual Contributor and as I'm thinking about my career,  there are SO many opportunities to step into.

Do I aim to be a high-performing individual contributor?

Do I aim to be a people leader?

Should I even aim for something, work hard where I'm at now, and see how everything works out?

For those who are more tenured in their career (and lives), how do you go about thinking through your career decisions?

Thanks so much!

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  • Jake Wasser
    Jake Wasser Member Posts: 1 Navigator
    First Anniversary Photogenic
    edited July 2020
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    Thank you so much for sharing! I have been wondering the same things and have kept to myself. Looking forward to reading some answers.

  • Brian LaFaille
    Brian LaFaille Member Posts: 10 Contributor
    edited July 2020
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    @Alex Tran - One of the best questions I got from my management coach that we revisited often together is the following: 

    In the last quarter of things you've worked on, what excited you

    • Did nailing a QBR get you excited? 
    • What about closing a massive up-sell? 
    • Did coaching and mentoring newer CSMs to your org bring you a lot of fulfillment? 

    These are the types of questions I asked myself when I made the move from IC to management. I can say confidently that the two are fundamentally different roles and going into a management position was a drastic shift from the role of IC. 

    Going one step further, I explored with my management coach what were the things you didn't work on, that you wanted to? The answer to that question led me down a path to craft a new role that was valuable to the business, but didn't fall under the path of IC or management. To often in career tracks we think management or IC are the only two options available to those in CS, when in reality new roles have been created to support the CS function out of business need. (I think of CS programs, CS analytics, CS Ops, etc). 

    Answer the question of what's excited you, and it can help guide you towards the right path for you. 

  • gurd3v
    gurd3v Member Posts: 70 Expert
    First Anniversary Photogenic
    edited July 2020
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    This is super helpful - thanks for putting this response together! Cool to see that you solved a key business need that didn't fall under IC or management. 

  • gurd3v
    gurd3v Member Posts: 70 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    This is an awesome topic. 

    One question I'd add on to this post for those that have more or less solved this is what is 1 thing that you wish you had known before jumping into the next step of your career that in hindsight would have helped make the transition easier?

  • Brian Hartley
    Brian Hartley Member Posts: 184 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    Hey @Alex Tran  - @Brian LaFaille nailed a lot of the points.

    It is easy to hit this intersection in your career and feel overwhelmed and slightly uneasy with what the future may hold for you.  Speaking from my personal experience I would recommend the following from possible pursuit of a people leadership position:

    • Do you enjoy helping and watch people succeed?  
      • As the saying goes (or I think)..the best managers are constantly backfilling roles on their team as they are busy promoting or advocating for their team members to succeed at a higher level.
    • Have you thought about all aspects of what comes with people management?
      • You will constantly be challenged with retaining and motivating your team, often times without the luxury of monetary compensation to provide.
      • Everyone has stuff in their life that at one point or another will crossover into the workplace, how will you handle and support those outside of a professional setting
      • How will you handle conflict resolution both within and cross departmental?  Your team will probably have times in which they need to blow off steam, how will you respond.
    • How will you balance the people management with what is expected of you from a day to day basis?
      • Between 1:1s, performance reviews, PIPs, raises, etc you will need to balance that with what your boss expects of you as it pertains to the role (outside of people management)

    I am sure you will get a lot of different pieces of input from folks on this forum.  Ultimately it is up to you to figure out what motivates and makes you happy in life.  Possibilities are endless! 

     

     

  • Alex Tran
    Alex Tran Member Posts: 38 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    @Brian LaFaille - Thank you for writing all of this out!

    These are great questions to ask! I like what were the things you didn't work on, that you wanted to?

    I'm sure many people can relate - I have a wide variety of interests that it can't all be encapsulated in a single role. 

    One thing I can do to take a step forward is: "What am I interested in AND where is there a business need?"

    Then, double down on that :)

    Thanks for letting me process!

     

  • Scott Hopper
    Scott Hopper Member Posts: 70 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    @Brian Hartley love the answer. 

  • Scott Hopper
    Scott Hopper Member Posts: 70 Expert
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    edited July 2020
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    @Alex Tran I think a 2-5 year stint in management is crucial to long-term career survival.   I know in my 20 and 30's I was not ready.  But,  it should have been a path I looked to in my 40's.  Doesn't mean you have to pursue it for the top roles.  But certainly, open doors that may be closed to many IC's.  Running an adult soccer team for 14 years I'm much more in tune with the daily challenges people face.  I do 1 v 1 coaching on Linked and group life coaching  But, people haven't seen the correlation yet that would make a good manager.  

  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 260 Expert
    5 Insightfuls Photogenic First Anniversary GGR Blogger 2022
    edited July 2020
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    The dynamic in your career really changes - you no longer have direct control but will largely be based on the outcome and result. You must learn how to work 'through' a team to drive the outcomes that will result in business outcomes.