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NextGen Magazine


Advancing Your Career Without Having to Manage People

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Dec 4, 2018

In a world where advancing up the career ladder generally involves supervising an increasingly large number of people, those who have no desire to manage a team can be left wondering what exactly they're supposed to do improve their professional position. An article in Quartz says it's perfectly possible to do advance without becoming a manager, but that a little reframing might be in order. It outlines two possible paths for those of a less hierarchical bent: 

One is to manage projects instead of people. Rather than acquire a staff, one should seek out exciting new projects that take the company in different directions, with the article giving examples such as helping a software company put out hardware devices or launching a company blog. 

Another is to become a subject matter expert. So, rather than being known as a department head or team leader, a professional will be known for being the only one who, for example, can understand an incredibly complex regulation, or who can speak an important client's native language. The idea here is to build essential skills that make someone indispensable to the firm. 

This echoes a finding in a recent study that, while focused on female executive careers, had a small point about men: Those whose careers plateau before becoming an executive, whether by choice or by circumstance, tend to respond by building out technical expertise and developing valuable specializations.