Thursday, April 09, 2009

How important is "supervisory" or management experience for its own sake?


The Census Bureau application (last post) asks, in Question 20, “Do you have supervisory experience?”

In fact, when I called, the spokeswoman said that I “sounded like a supervisor.” I was surprised. I have a total of six weeks experience with formal direct reports as a Project Leader, in 1988, before I left the company before a merger. At all other times I have been an individual contributor.

The Census Bureau employment application question seems to value supervisory or management experience for its own sake. So do a lot of KSA questions from USAJobs. I’ve never been willing to relate to that.

I generally am interested in management experience only in two situations:
(1) The work is for an effort that I created. That is, it could be to make a movie of a screenplay that I wrote, or to solve an Internet law or culture and business problem as I have exposed the problem on the web in my blogs. That is definitely “task oriented” supervision.
(2) I have all the technical skills of the people that I supervise. That would be unlikely in situation (1). For example, in the mainframe world, I wanted to have fluency in coding, testing and implementation of DB2 and CICS before supervising others doing the same.

For me, personally, my “station in life” does not depend on how many people belong to my “span of control.” It’s fine for me if that number is the Babylonian zero.

And, for much of my career, middle management was not the place to be. Now, though, employers might wonder, "Why didn't you advance?"

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