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Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 04-14-2005, 08:33 AM   #1
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Avoiding the middle-management trap

Working for a mega-corp fresh out of school (9 months on the job so far), I've noticed that the vast majority of the white-collar employees fill middle-management roles, earning $60k-$90k/year. I suppose it's the natural pyramid structure of any company, but there are just not very many jobs that pay +$100k. And getting into those select jobs seems to be as much luck (networking, being in the right place at the right time) as skill. Not to mention the fact that the upper-management jobs have extra hassles and added stress. I could have a comfortable lifestyle on that level of income (with a working spouse), but it wouldn't do much to advance my goal of FIRE.

Is there anything I can do now, at age 23, to prevent getting stuck in middle-management down the road?
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 04-14-2005, 09:10 AM   #2
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

Yeah: it's not how much you earn-- it's how much you keep.

LBYM and keep taking the jobs that interest you-- if it's interesting then the level of management is probably irrelevant.

Two other options would be self-employment and unemployment, but neither one sounds very appealing at this point in your life.
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 04-14-2005, 09:29 AM   #3
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

If you are by any stretch of the imagination talented, or have technical expertise that really interests you, avoid middle-management. MMgrs are rah rah boys, in the middle of the real hot-shots and the peons. Where I worked last, the MMgrs were overworked and subjected to real crappola with infinite reports and briefings, expected to come in early, stay late, work weekends, and BTW with no real power.

Now... I feel good about being retired.
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 04-14-2005, 11:52 AM   #4
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

Ieeeeee!!! Run for your life!!!

Look, it's too late for many in industy who have become mindless middle managers, but there's still hope for you. You still have a soul and dreams. Save yourself. You must run for your life now.



Only kidding. Middle management doesn't have to be a thankless and unrewarding job -- it just often is. One of the biggest problems is that so many who take these jobs do so for all the wrong reasons. If you don't like dealing with people issues and managing resourses, you shouldn't go into management. If you would rather work on technical matters, then you shouldn't go into managment. If you don't see the middle management position as a service position to improve the productivity of your workforce, you probably shouldn't go into middle management. But if you think helping to create a better work environment for your workforce is an interesting challenge, middle management can be rewarding. You will certainly have headaches if you end up fighting your own managment to do the right thing for your workforce all the time. But not all companies are poorly run -- just most of them.
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 04-14-2005, 12:22 PM   #5
 
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

A great way to make a lot of money and build that FIRE nestegg is to go into sales. I worked for 15 years for a major corporation in technical sales and made a good 6 figure income that I saved. It helped me to FIRE at 40.
Even though I am basically an INTJ, it was worth modifying my style to make my numbers and run my own show. I made more than middle managers and when they wanted to promote me to sales management, I was making so much it would have meant a sizable reduction income for the ego trip and added responsibility. In sales, as long as you are making your numbers, you can stay out of the office, work half days and basically not have to put up with the daily corporate grind!!

In addition, I can now again be my comfortable INTJ self as an ER.
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 04-14-2005, 10:14 PM   #6
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

I stepped sideways into computer security, since the next step for me would have been manager/tech lead for system administrators. Some thought I was nuts, since I have a ceiling not to far above me as far as the corp. ladder goes, but the good thing is I am autonomous. I really can't emphasis how good it feels to have everyone "have" to take my word for it on what I do. Now on the flip side, if something goes wrong it's my a**, but I'm willing to be responsible for myself so that I can basically be my own boss. The only time I really get bogged down in corp. land is annual budget allocations-yeesh!
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 04-15-2005, 03:59 AM   #7
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

Middle management can be a rewarding niche to those looking for an early exit. This is often one of the first groups targeted for downsizing, and as your title becomes more exalted so too does your severance package.

Ed
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 04-22-2005, 10:37 AM   #8
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

If you must work in middle management, (and I don't necessarily recommend it), don't do it for the same company for many years. Move around, and your income will grow much faster.

I changed jobs in the IT industry (both on purpose and involuntarily!) several times over the last 15 years, while a good friend at my current company stayed put and moved up the ranks. She works harder, longer, and smarter as I do, in part because she knows the company inside-out after her long tenure.

We just compared salaries -- I was FLOORED to find out I make $70K more for the SAME position. (She was floored too, btw!)

Another friend of mine got laid off from this company two years ago -- he got another job making 10K more, got laid off from THAT job (we're in IT remember - it's a revolving door), and just landed another job at $10K MORE on top of that. (And they say Silicon Valley is still depressed!) Those of us who didn't get laid off got 2% over the last two years, if we were lucky.

An old friend from B-school graduated a year ahead of me, went to a big oil company, manages thousands of workers, and I'm $50K ahead of him.

You CAN make 6 figures in middle management -- you just have to put yourself on the market and start the bidding again every few years.

As an aside, you'll see more and learn more, too!

Caroline
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 04-22-2005, 10:54 AM   #9
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

70k more?? I have friends making 20k more than me, but geez! Either your friend is making minumum wage or you are pulling down some serious jack! Congrats on that! I have come to the conclusion I may be forced to go middle management (manager of computer security) when my boss retires or have someone I'm not too sure of become my boss (great guy, not sure if he'll be the right fit for me). Yeesh.
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 04-22-2005, 07:56 PM   #10
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

Heck the DW quit a job then went back to work for them 2 months later. She asked for what she considered an unreasonable pay and her boss quickly said yes. She eventually left that comapny because she had topped out. She still talks with her old boss and receives job offers from time to time. He told her it was time for her to leave because he could not put her the position he wanted her to take, due to politics and ruffled feathers of co-workers. She does not have a degree and most of her co-workers are required to have one.
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 04-22-2005, 08:05 PM   #11
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

That "no degree" thing is a real handicap, and the bigger the company the bigger the disadvantage.

JG
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 04-23-2005, 03:18 PM   #12
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

Ya her old boss kept telling her to at least start then he could put her in good positions. I guess she figured she's making more than me with the degree and she enjoyed her job, mostly so why go.
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 05-02-2005, 10:17 PM   #13
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

Quote:
from laurencewill:* "70k more??* I have friends making 20k more than me, but geez!* Either your friend is making minumum wage or you are pulling down some serious jack!
Well, this working-class gal has NOOOOO complaints!* Making far beyond my wildest expectations, when I was younger.* I have been blessed.* But remember, this is Silly-con Valley.* After I pay the mortgage, the taxes, the gasoline, etc. etc. etc... "JACK" is about all what I'm left with!* *

Quote:
* From lets-retire:* "She still talks with her old boss and receives job offers from time to time.* He told her it was time for her to leave because he could not put her the position he wanted her to take, due to politics and ruffled feathers of co-workers
Sounds like your wife is happy there and is making good money, so no worries.* But if she really wants the promotion and responsibility, she might "shop" her experience and track record with a few other employers.* Oftentimes, the level you hire in at is the one people see you at no matter what else happens, and you have to move to reset the perceptions with a new group.

Quote:
From JG:* "That "no degree" thing is a real handicap, and the bigger the company the bigger the disadvantage."
It IS a handicap, and the silly thing is it doesn't mean a thing as far as I can tell.* A lot of my colleagues couldn't market their way out of a paper bag.* (They must have slept through Marketing whilst I was sleeping through Macroeconomics.)* And a lot of folks I've met along the way without a degree to their names were outstanding business people and top-notch marketeers.

When it comes to business (and probably a lot of other things) it's a mindset, not the letters behind your name.*

IMHO
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 05-02-2005, 10:32 PM   #14
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagle43
Where I worked last, the MMgrs were overworked and subjected to real crappola with infinite reports and briefings, expected to come in early, stay late, work weekends, and BTW with no real power.

Now... I feel good about being retired.
I used to think the same way but slowly changing my view. I see managers are leaving the same time as everyone does.
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 05-02-2005, 10:48 PM   #15
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

Quote:
Well, this working-class gal has NOOOOO complaints! Making far beyond my wildest expectations, when I was younger. I have been blessed. But remember, this is Silly-con Valley. After I pay the mortgage, the taxes, the gasoline, etc. etc. etc... "JACK" is about all what I'm left with!
That's really depends on whether a person has purchased a house recently or many years ago. My brothers live and work in the Bay Area. They purchased their houses in the 80s. They do not have any mortgages and their property taxes are minimal due to proposition 13. They are earning about 30% higher than average in other parts of the nation for the same type of work. The cost of goods (i.e., car, TV, furniture, etc) is about the same except for certain grocery items. Therefore, they are doing quite well.

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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 05-03-2005, 06:08 AM   #16
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

More on degrees. I only have an Associate Degree from a community college, and it's not even in accounting, which is what
I did for many years. Being a natural entreprenuer, the lack of at
LEAST a bachelors would have been a killer if I had wanted to
stay in accounting all the way (man, that is a depressing thought) . I recall a letter sent to someone by the President
of a small compnay where I was CFO. He said (about me),
"For a guy without a degree he really knows his stuff!"
That was nice. Two (2) years later I made the jump from accounting-
finance to general management.

JG
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 05-03-2005, 06:35 AM   #17
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

Quote:
Originally Posted by MRGALT2U
That "no degree" thing is a real handicap, and the bigger the company the bigger the disadvantage.

JG
JG,

It is true for big company - the company for which I work only hires people with at least a master degree.

Spanky
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 05-03-2005, 08:11 AM   #18
 
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

Really?! What type of firm? Financial?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spanky
It is true for big company - the company for which I work only hires people with at least a master degree.
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 05-04-2005, 01:17 PM   #19
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

No, it is a medical device company - R&D jobs.
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap
Old 05-04-2005, 01:42 PM   #20
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Re: Avoiding the middle-management trap

Spanky, my wife works for a medical device company, and there are two distinct tiers at her company. Those who have Masters (like my wife) and Ph.D's and those who don't have a degree (manufacturing, admins, custodians). They grab interns who are getting their B.S. in Biology, Chem., etc. and train them up, then "encourage" them to do post grad. work. It's the path that my wife took. But the non-grads pretty much have no chance of moving up in the company. One person got promoted and it was the talk of the company because he only had a Bachelor's. DW's boss has Ph.D. and MBA. Awesome work if you can get it, we are starting to joke that I could be a stay at home Dad soon.
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