scorecardMeet the millennials who don't want to be managers. They say the extra pressure isn't worth it.
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Meet the millennials who don't want to be managers. They say the extra pressure isn't worth it.

Madison Hoff   

Meet the millennials who don't want to be managers. They say the extra pressure isn't worth it.
PolicyPolicy3 min read
  • Some people don't want to land a manager job.
  • One millennial said the manager role she would move into next seems to be a high pressure job.

When Devika got promoted recently, to a more senior sales role for a college counseling company, she knew that moving to a manager position typically would be her next move.

It's a job she said would involve lots of stakeholders, including people who would have to report to her. Because of that, she thinks that role can be "even more stressful" than top leadership. She said it also seems to age you.

Devika, whose identity is known to Business Insider but asked to use a pseudonym for fear of professional repercussions, knows holding this managerial role is not something she's really interested in. That's partly because it seems like a high-pressure position.

Devika said younger millennials like her may not see moving to a manager role as worth it because "it's just giving up too much of your personal life and then life is short." So, she said, they "might as well individually contribute" while making "X amount of money."

Devika isn't alone. A Visier survey from August of 1,000 US-based full-time workers found just 38% of "individual contributors are interested in becoming a people manager at their current organization," a blog post about the results stated. Andrea Derler, principal of research and customer value at Visier, told Business Insider that there could be a succession gap at companies if they aren't investing in and supporting their managers.

Derler said the survey takers "are worried about increased stress and pressures." That includes feeling extra pressure from senior management, Derler said.

The survey results also suggest that some participants believe moving into management will mean working longer or more hours, and some are happy with their current positions.

There are still ways to be a leader in the workplace without managing

Justin Vallely is another millennial who is happy in his individual contributor role and not particularly inclined to move into management. He's a software engineer at tech company Ibotta.

Vallely said he used to think that advancing his career meant working in management but found there can be other opportunities for leadership. For example, engineers at his company can mentor employees without taking a managerial role, he said.

He believes this to be true for engineers in general. He said people can still do leadership work on an individual contributor career path and that this can be a way organizations don't lose the "best and brightest and most experienced engineers."

One of the hurdles Vallely sees in being a manager is the responsibility of solving people's problems, which don't stop because the workday ended, he said.

"That, to me, seems something that would be harder to separate from after the workday is over," he said.

In his current role, he has time to step away from his tasks to gain a fresh perspective but isn't sure he'd have the same luxury if he was a manager.

Companies can address the succession gap now before it's too late

For employers worried about the pipeline of potential managers, Derler recommends helping assist workers coming into management with what she calls "manager onboarding support."

"Onboarding someone means to help them acclimatize in the new company, and the new team, building relationships, understanding expectations, learning opportunities and so on," Derler said.

She added that new managers don't often get that learning opportunity and then form bad habits that are hard to eradicate later.

Another thing organizations can do is think about who they are considering for manager.

Derler said organizations typically look for workers with high performance, but these people aren't always best suited for management. Instead, employers should focus on qualities like an enterprise mindset or situations where an employee collaborated with others or supported coworkers, she added.

The Visier survey found 71% of respondents, including those who don't necessarily want to be people managers, said better compensation would be a top incentive for becoming this kind of manager. Derler was surprised by this result because research shows people traditionally wanted to take on manager roles so they could help more with company strategy.

While a pay increase would be nice, Vallely said, he thinks "it's more important to do what you love."

Have you turned down a promotion? What are your thoughts on promotions and moving up the corporate ladder? Share with this reporter at