5 reasons people become managers

People strive to become managers for a number of reasons ranging from impact to compensation and everything in between. Given the varied motivations for the role, it can be tricky as an HR partner to implement programs to make managers successful. We’re here to help.

The Mintable interacts with our community of hundreds of managers everyday. We hear about their successes and failures, their fears and aspirations, their motivations and burnout. We hear it all. And whew, managers and the motivations for their role are complex.

To help, we have gathered the top reasons why people become managers and some practical recommendations on how you can use those insights to implement programs that give your managers the best possible chance to succeed (so everyone else can too).

Read on for the top 5 reasons people become managers.

1. “I want to help people grow”

What to know: Most managers have good intentions at heart. They want to help others grow. They want to be good at their job. Many managers fail not because of the wrong motivation but because of the lack of adequate and consistent support and training.

What you can do:

  • Up-level internally promoted managers: Ensure your internally promoted managers have the foundational soft skills to be successful (e.g. setting expectations, giving effective feedback, understanding motivations, building connection with their team, delegating). Soft skills do not come naturally to most and need to be intentionally taught and learned. Do not assume that strong individual contributors (ICs) will necessarily be strong managers without intentional support.

  • Level-set externally hired managers: Level-set the foundational skills of external managers hired. Hiring externally is a great way to bring strong management into the company. However, you don’t necessarily know what skills they have been taught and where their gaps are. Ensure all new external managers go through the same foundational training as your internal manager promotions. This will ensure a consistent foundation.

2. "I want to make more money"

What to know: Many people become managers for the pay raise. While this isn’t the most inspiring answer, it is a real one. In a lot of cases, people see management as the only path to career advancement and increased pay. If people become a manager solely for this reason, it usually doesn’t lead to good outcomes for anyone.

What you can do:

  • Dig into motivations before role transfers/promotions: It is helpful to ensure you understand your employees’ motivations before any big move (lateral, promotion or otherwise). The Mintable uses a tool called the Motivation Map to understand what energizes, drains and motivates people. This is a great way to identify if the manager role will align or clash with motivations.

  • Create advancement paths outside management: Ensure your company has IC promotion/progression paths that include increased compensation without becoming a manager. This way you can avoid people becoming a manager simply because they feel it is the only way to make more money or advance in their career. While money can definitely be a motivating factor of great managers, it should not be the only motivating factor.

3. “I want to make an impact”

What to know: Some people want to become managers to have a different or larger impact on the business. They believe they will be able to make greater change or have a broader impact from this position.

What you can do:

  • Create Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): ERGs offer opportunities for people at your company to make high value impacts on areas important to them. People in your company can self-select into groups they are passionate about and assume roles aligned with the impact they want to have (i.e. training, leading, creating content etc). ERGs offer many benefits, not least of which are opportunities to people to make an impact outside of management. By providing these avenues, you help ensure all employees can make an impact and not think or see management as the only path to impact.

4. “I want to have more control”

What to know: People often view management as a way to broaden their influence over the work they do each day. However, without the right expectations and skills, many managers actually find that they have less control over their days.

What you can do:

  • Define the role: Clearly define the role of management and the scope of influence within your organization. Without this clarity, people may make assumptions about how much control they will have in the role.

  • Train managers on how to delegate: Ensure your managers have strong delegation skills. Managers will often find that they end up with less control over their days unless they master the skill of delegation. They may also find themselves in the trap of continuing to do IC work rather than leaning into the new/hard stuff of management if they do not delegate the IC work off their plate.

5. “I want to build new skills”

What to know: As people master the skills in their current role, they are often looking to “what’s next”. They ask themselves, “how can I keep growing and learning?” Management is often seen as a path to building new skills and being challenged in a new way. However, the role can be a disappointment if the new responsibilities don’t come with the appropriate level of support and skill building.

What you can do:

  • Implement a ramp period for new managers: Just like new engineers need a ramp period to learn their role, managers need a ramp period too. After all, this is an entirely new role. Create and follow a 30-60-90 day plan with success milestones to give new managers the time, space and resources they need to be successful. We recommend following this path. First 30 days are focused on learning – understanding role expectations and training on new skills. Second 30 days are focused on contributing – managing direct reports, running team meetings, holding 1x1s. Third 30 days are focused on performing – executing on all aspects of the role expectations.

As you can see, the reasons people want to be managers are vast and varied. Therefore, it can be tricky to deliver effectively for this group. But you don’t have to go it alone. We got you. The Mintable is a community of the best managers on earth. We listen to, train with and learn from them everyday. And we are excited to share our learnings with you. Want to hear more about how to build the best for your managers? Book time with us today!