Becoming a manager is not a promotion

Sacha Arnoud

Senior Director of Engineering at Lyft



One of my direct reports, who was performing well, asked me to promote him to a managerial position. I knew him quite well and doubted that he would be happy in that position. I had the feeling that he saw advancement to management as a promotion, but that he would not necessarily embrace the job.

Actions taken

I had many one-on-ones with him, in an attempt to understand his aspirations and values. I then asked him two key questions: "What do you want to have accomplished in the next six months?" and "Where do you get your energy from every day?" To dig even deeper, I also asked him "What drains your energy? What gives you satisfaction?". From his answers, I was able to confirm my belief that changing his role so he became a manager would not be a good idea. As an example, he explained that dealing with company politics drained his energy.

Lessons learned

As a manager, I hadn't managed to show my engineers that there were different paths to success and had, therefore, not structured my team accordingly. I don't believe that becoming a manager is a promotion. Changing your role from engineer to manager is a change in the nature of your job, and it isn't a good option for every engineer. However, it is normal for good engineers to expect more responsibilities. Therefore, it is essential for managers to find ways to set up a richer set of growth opportunities, beyond a linear path leading to management.

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Sacha Arnoud

Senior Director of Engineering at Lyft

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionCareer LadderSkill DevelopmentIndividual Contributor RolesStaff EngineerPrincipal Engineer

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