I’ve been happy in my job for the past nine years until I was promoted to supervisor two years ago. As supervisor, I’m not anymore doing the work I enjoyed doing related to my profession in chemistry, and I’m expected to spend more of my office time in directly supervising six people under me in a quality assurance section. The time I spend supervising my subordinates seems not enough for my manager who had already called my attention to what he perceived to be my negligence of my responsibility in people development and management because I prefer working by myself doing testing and analysis. IT is now my current career interest. I’m torn between continuing my work as a supervisor in our department and seeking transfer to our MIS department even in a non-supervisory position. Will this affect my career in my company? I’m now 38 years old and a father of two children. I can’t afford to be jobless.
You are wondering whether your plan to shift career will affect your career in or your employment with your company. It’s obvious that you like a professional/technical path rather than a management career path. Sad to say, many companies recognize professional/technical work but reward it with promotion to a management career path without considering if the person has management/entrepreneurial career interest. Lacking a real professional/technical career path, they promote outstanding performers to leadership positions without considering the career interests, inclinations and preferences of these performers. They thus become “good” examples of the Peter Principle which states that competent people are promoted to levels of incompetence. Not only are these people “punished” by being made to supervise people when they don’t have a high enough EQ; there is no attempt on the part of management to provide them with coaching or to undergo training to improve their EQ. The unspoken message to the newly promoted supervisors is: You did well in your past position. There is no reason why you can’t do as well in your current position. Lacking neither coaching nor training, these supervisors/managers end up doing the technical part of their positions, leaving their subordinates alone to sink or swim.
My advice to you is to go to the head of MIS and inquire about the following concerns that you have:
- Is it possible for me to shift my career to IT and be assigned to the MIS department?
- Will I be accepted by the MIS department with my educational background (in chemistry) and work experience in quality assurance? Be prepared to demonstrate your IT skills and what you did in quality assurance using IT skills.
On your part, ask yourself the following:
- Am I willing to be downgraded in rank and compensation should the MIS department decide to accept me? For sure, you will not carry with you your supervisory rank.
- How will working at an entry level job in the MIS department affect me?
- How will working with much younger people in the MIS department affect me?
I don’t know what answers you will get from the MIS head. If you will be accepted at a lower level – and lower pay – and you are willing to take these risks, then you need to fast track your development. To fast track would mean you are placed under a coach who will directly supervise you. The coach need not be your immediate boss but a senior guy who is recognized for his advanced skills. No, you would not be placed under a mentor because mentors are assigned to star performers to hone the latter’s skills and bring out their potentials.
Additionally, you need to invest in your own career development by taking a formal course in IT, in Computer Science or in Computer Engineering in night school and during week-end. These will affect your personal and family life for the next few years. But if it would mean being in the right career and the enjoyment and productivity that go with it, it may be worth the initial sacrifice.
God bless you.