Ask Before Accepting A Management Position

This is a critique of the Fast Company article Five Questions You Should Ask Before Accepting A Management Position by Stephanie Taylor Christense.  The article is useful assuming that you equate success with people management.  For entrepreneurial jobs a few modifiers are needed.

The five questions the article suggests you ask before accepting a management position:

1. “Will I Actually Be Managing People?

2. What Will My Typical Day Look Like?

3. How Will My Performance Be Measured?

4. How Much Say Will I Have In Personnel Decisions?

5. Why Did The Previous Manager Leave?”

If you are on the path of managing lots of people in an established enterprise this is good advice.  However for those in the following career cycles it is somewhat off focus and superficial:

  • Startup CEOs
  • Startup officers
  • Managers of valuable assets such as oil rigs

Asset Managers

If you are responsible for an asset worth several hundred millions then people management is important. But dealing with pirates that attack your replenishment vessels with hundreds of thousands of dollars of consumables (on each run) for your oil rig seems a little different from the typical vision of people management. And those that pay your handsome compensation, likely want a good bit of your attention to be on the scientific data and maintenance issues that are robustly intertwined with management decisions.

Startups

The initial facility cost for some startups such as those that manufacture synthetic fuel additives for automobiles can be $1 billion or so. No artistic license is involved in calling the CEO a manager. Again people management will be important. But asset management will also be key.

Where should we discuss the guy with a new algorithm who leaves Goldman Sachs, raises $100 million and launches a hedge fund? He probably starts out with only a handful of staff.

If we talk about a more typical Hitech startup, then people management is certainly important. But, the replacement CEO candidates’ five questions likely include topics such as:

  • How real is the traction?  Where are we on scaling?
  • My equity share and its vesting rights
  • Stakeholder relationships

Conclusion

So the article Five Questions You Should Ask Before Accepting A Management Position is useful for those in conventional roles in established enterprises.  But, for the entrepreneurial roles that interest us it needs a few modifications to keep us on the mark.

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