How To Succeed In A Non-Managerial Role (Because Yes, It’s Possible)


When you think of a traditional career path, you likely think about starting at the bottom, then once you’ve impressed enough people, you start managing employees. While climbing the ladder may look like this at many companies, it’s not the only option. And honestly, some people just aren’t cut out to manage other people. Friends, this is not something to be ashamed of. Some people are made for management while others just keep kicking ass in their respective industries.

Think about it this way: researchers aren’t less credible just because they didn’t decide to teach at a university. They just chose to focus on their own work rather than teach others the basics of what they already mastered.

You should always have the ability to advance your career, no matter what path you choose. Not sure where to start? Follow these steps to succeeding in your industry on a non-manager track.

Step 1: Get really good at what you do.

The first step to even being considered for a non-managerial track (and honestly, any track) is to master what you have in front of you. Whether you’re at the ground level or a few years out, make these years count by learning as much as you can about your role and industry. Prove again and again that you’re not only the best at what you do in your company, but that you’re so good, you are simply irreplaceable.

Step 2: Make the right connections with leaders at your company.

non-manager career path

Unsplash/Andrey Larin

If you notice your company or industry doesn’t have many non-manager senior positions out there, you’ll have to do some DIY work. Once you’ve proven yourself to be a total wiz at your job, start making connections with the higher-level people on your team. Ask to be added to side projects or just ask them for coffee to pick their brains. The more people on your side = the more chances you have to get the career path you want.

Step 3: Make your intentions clear to your boss.

There’s nothing like good ol’ honesty. At your next performance review (especially if you expect you’re getting a management promotion), let your boss know what your goals are as an employee. Give your boss hard evidence that you’re well worth keeping at a non-manager position as evidenced by your accomplishments.

Step 4: Offer to be a part of the new employee training process.

You can suggest this in your performance meeting or outside of it, but supplement your non-managerial job with voluntarily training new employees, as a trade-off. If that’s not possible, ask your boss what else you could do to contribute to the company without managing someone.