(bad) trend: makers being promoted to managers

yesterday, i met up with my dear friend angela for lunch. we touched on a trend that i’ve noticed and went in depth on it because it’s happening to her.

in hierarchical organizations, there is a trend to promote skilled makers into management positions. anyone who has been in an organization for any significant amount of time has probably seen this happen. someone who’s good at what they good gets “rewarded” by being promoted. because of the way that hierarchical organizations tend to be structured (thanks industrialism), higher on the ladder means more management responsibilities along with more money. people who manage people are perceived to be worth more to the company so they are compensated more.

unfortunately, making and managing are two completely different skillsets. of course, that doesn’t mean that some people aren’t good at both. but it is a mistake to assume that someone who is good at making will also be good at managing.

the number of times i have watched this process crash a team or organization is astounding.

holy shit. light-bulb moment. now that i think about it, this is actually some oppressive bullshit. i recently wrote about why it no longer makes sense for modern managers to be higher up in a hierarchy than makers. in that reality, there actually isn’t a reason managers should be paid more.

imo, the role of a manager is to support the forward motion of a team. a good manager can be measured by how well the team they manage works. a great manager will improve the rate of progress of their team over time. but managing, just like different types of making is just one function on a team. managers bring a skillset and experience to the table just like everyone else.

the oppression comes in when it is perceived that the manager should be making more money than the parts of the team. this seems like a really great way to keep powerholders in power. it also entices makers to become managers. the more i think about it, the more parallel this seems to how the “work hard and get rich” dream (which has been proven by many research studies to be false and there are even books on it) allows rich elites to convince poor people to vote for tax policy that actually undermines their own well-being and is against their own interests.


ps - none of this is to say that makers can’t be managers. some people have natural management skill. some people have developed it in other areas of their life and having an opportunity to show it at work is a good thing. i believe most people can learn how to be good managers. the trouble is when makers are promoted to managers with the assumption that because you’re a good maker you will also be a good manager. the hell breaks loose when that assumption goes unchecked and it turns out the person isn’t a good manager.