Why You Need to Build Career Paths for Non-Managers

Every organization has some amazingly good employees who just don’t want to become managers–but they do want to prosper in their careers. In an article for, Rich Hein talks about how to motivate and guide these high-achieving employees, so that they don’t jump ship for someone offering greener pastures.

Keep the Good Ones

Not every IT person wants to be a manager. Why should you care? Because if they can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, if there isn’t a (non-managerial) pinnacle to which they can ascend, then you’re minus one high-performing employee. This is not only bad for the employee, it’s also bad for business, since blossoming skill sets and evolving roles have become the industry norm. There’s also the matter of money:

The cost of employee turnover, according to Deloitte data, can range “from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5-2x the contributors annual salary.” Its data also indicates that tenured employees add more value to a corporation than those who are just “cycling through.” Doing what you can to help retain these people makes sense and is in the organization’s best interest.

Hands-On Types

A large fraction of employees in IT roles are averse to anything management-related. Management positions are viewed as burdensome, and many tech people are very hands-on. They like to be in control of the technology and the tools of the business. Additionally, being responsible for others distracts them from individual passions and skill-honing activities, which are their true career priorities.

Create the Role

Talk to potential management candidates about their goals in the company. Scope them out using assessment tools like Predictive index or 360 reviews. If you don’t have a non-management role for them, it’s time to create one. Lead developer, project manager, software architect, or principle level engineer are all potential non-managerial roles that are both relevant to company and individual. Some of these positions require a small degree of management. You never know, they might just like it.

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