switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

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redheadinvestor
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switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by redheadinvestor »

I work for multi national big corp in Chicago area in a technical role(software architect, individual contributor). I have been working for 20 years in this company, so gained lot of domain and technical knowledge. My pay is around $180K+20% bonus, career wise I reached 2nd top most level possible in technical track. My manager more or less made clear to me that my salary growth will be limited going forward.

Up until now my plan is to pursue other opportunities once my son(only one kid) starts college(he is in junior year now so another 1.5 years). But unexpectedly i have another opportunity to work in Pittsburgh,PA, Same company but in different domain/business area. Main difference is this will be software manager role(with some people management, leadership) along with some technical focus. They are offering $160K+15% bonus with some relocation benefits and sign-on bonus.

I am in the flux whether to take this opportunity or not.

Reason to pursue the change are :
- Switching to manager role allows me to grow further in my career over time(director and up) more than what is achievable in technical role.
- I am pretty confident I can get another job in technical role any time with in the company or outside. But not sure if some one will offer me manager role so this may be one of a kind opportunity.
- I have pretty good working relationship and respect with current management not sure if it will continue that way. As I get and older, with management changes with younger people, they may not see me as valuable as the current management. IN other words I will always be challenged.
- I am saturated in my current job, I think I still have some energy to explore new stuff.

Reason to not pursue
- This position requires me to take significant cut in my current pay in the short/mid term, with the hope that this pays off over time. There is a big risk, it may not pan out that way.
- My son will soon start college admission process so it is better I stay with him during that time. I thought about it really hard but if I think about it he is on his own most of the time. I am there to support him mentally/emotionally.
- I am doing good in current role with decent pay/benefits, work life balance etc, all this will be disturbed. I can't imagine my family moving to Pittsburgh in the middle of high school. I will end up travelling Chicago-Pittsburgh for next 1.5 years which is stressful both emotionally and financially.
- As I am getting older this is time to seek stability, not take big risks.

I have enough money in 529 I think can cover his 4 year college.

Any input or feedback appreciated? Is the sacrifice worth the risk given my circumstances?
Dottie57
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by Dottie57 »

I think excellence in technology role beats management role by a mile.
niceguy7376
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by niceguy7376 »

Dont do the same mistake that I did - Move away from Hands On technology to Management.
In my case, I went away from Road Warrior (M-Thu travel) permanent job to local job.

Another factor is getting away from family at this juncture. Also, you are increasing your expenses (Is travel and stay at new location covered?) that come with moving between two cities while the pay rate goes down.

You can make similar decisions once your son has made decisions regarding college.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by TexasPE »

Dottie57 wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 4:46 pm I think excellence in technology role beats management role by a mile.
+1

Moving from Technology to Management is often a one-direction move - you may be unpleasantly surprised at how quickly you lose your technical edge. This may make returning to a technical role in the future difficult.
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redheadinvestor
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by redheadinvestor »

Thanks for all responses so far.

I don't mind moving away completely from technical to management track.

I feel like I have around 15 years of career left out, All that I am trying to do is to make good use of remaining time and ensure it is secure and comfortable. I am worried that technical track/individual contributors are always challenged. It is less of an issue for management track.
ARoseByAnyOtherName
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by ARoseByAnyOtherName »

Dottie57 wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 4:46 pm I think excellence in technology role beats management role by a mile.
Why do you think that?
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by ARoseByAnyOtherName »

The only right answer here is some combination of what you want to do, and what you are good at doing.

If you are interested in investing in people, teaching them to do what you are an expert at doing, and can take satisfaction from watching others do the work instead of you doing it yourself - all while giving feedback and having potentially difficult conversations - then by all means consider management.

If that isn’t your path in life, or you feel that your current family situation (I sympathize) precludes you from taking this path, then consider deferring.

I am disappointed in the posters who have given you advice to always stay in a hands on technical role. That is definitely not always the right choice.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by Dottie57 »

ARoseByAnyOtherName wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 6:48 pm
Dottie57 wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 4:46 pm I think excellence in technology role beats management role by a mile.
Why do you think that?
I’ve seen managers tossed around and eliminated but the technical team remains ( if competent).

I worked at the same company for 21 yrs and had as many managers. Seriously.
sport
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by sport »

The cost of living in Pittsburgh is a lot less than Chicago. So, the cut in pay may not hurt as much as you might think. The big problem seems to be your family situation. Is it possible to delay the switch for another year and a half?
mike_in_ny
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by mike_in_ny »

My advice is always the same: figure out what you want to do with your life (Family, kids,
location to live, hobbies, etc) and then figure out what you can do to achieve your career goals.

I personally would not move a HS Jr unless absolutely necessary.....too much downside with
little upside.
johnny
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by johnny »

There are a lot of good things about moving to a manager role, especially if you are interested in coaching people and you've run out of challenges in the technical arena.

However, commiting to a move and a pay cut in order to get there doesn't make any sense to me. Don't underestimate the challenges of moving to a manager role. You need to add to your people skills and will be confronted with difficult situations that will keep you up at night. On bad days you will want to go back to your technical role. You will also be sorely tempted to do your team's work "the right way." This however is a horrible idea that will only result in burning you out.

Bottom line, as a manager with technical skill, you are worth every penny of your previous individual contributor salary -- and more -- because now you are making other people better. Hold out for a better opportunity if you want to make the leap.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by ARoseByAnyOtherName »

Dottie57 wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 9:25 pm
ARoseByAnyOtherName wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 6:48 pm
Dottie57 wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 4:46 pm I think excellence in technology role beats management role by a mile.
Why do you think that?
I’ve seen managers tossed around and eliminated but the technical team remains ( if competent).

I worked at the same company for 21 yrs and had as many managers. Seriously.
Sure. But not every company tosses around and eliminates managers. And not everyone wants to stay around for 21 years in an individual contributor role at the same company.

If we're talking in generalities then I could easily make a counter-argument about ageism in tech, especially software roles, and the risks of staying in an individual contributor tech role as one ages. This would probably be more broadly accurate and applicable than the case you're trying to make.

Neither of these things seem very applicable to the OP's situation.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by Dottie57 »

ARoseByAnyOtherName wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 9:21 am
Dottie57 wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 9:25 pm
ARoseByAnyOtherName wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 6:48 pm
Dottie57 wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 4:46 pm I think excellence in technology role beats management role by a mile.
Why do you think that?
I’ve seen managers tossed around and eliminated but the technical team remains ( if competent).

I worked at the same company for 21 yrs and had as many managers. Seriously.
Sure. But not every company tosses around and eliminates managers. And not everyone wants to stay around for 21 years in an individual contributor role at the same company.

If we're talking in generalities then I could easily make a counter-argument about ageism in tech, especially software roles, and the risks of staying in an individual contributor tech role as one ages. This would probably be more broadly accurate and applicable than the case you're trying to make.

Neither of these things seem very applicable to the OP's situation.
We have different opinions.
Iorek
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by Iorek »

Personally there doesn’t seem to be anything weighing on the side of the job switch except maybe the chance to learn new skills. I am risk averse but I would not do the switch.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by Beehave »

In terms of career, here's my take. If you are specialized in your technical skills and stagnating relative to advances in technology (you can make bears and poodles dance in tutus better than anyone else, but fewer and fewer people are interested in bears and poodles), then grab the management ring because there becomes a time after which an individual contributor without prior management experience (i.e., experience that includes pay, hiring, and firing responsibilities) will not have a decent chance of getting a position as a manager and because your time as a high-paid individual contributor who is not current with industry changes may be coming to a close.

If your technical skills are keeping up with industry progress and you are at the 2nd highest level on the tech ladder, why not go for the highest level? Is your manager telling you this will not happen? If not, does that mean your position is insecure, or simply that you're safe but plateaued?

Taking a new type of role with long, expensive commuting workweek/weekends and lower pay would only make sense to me if there were real instability or stalled growth that will turn you into an anachronism in the current role. My suggestion based on limited info here would be to work with your current manager to make what you're doing now more satisfying and secure from both your perspective and theirs. If the discussion helps, great. If the discussion reveals problems, act accordingly.

Best wishes.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by Olemiss540 »

There will always be managerial roles available due to turnover, so I would wait until your home life better suits the move or an opportunity comes around locally.

Once the kiddos are out of High school, much easier to give it a try without the potentially monstrous personal drawbacks killing the work opportunity.

There is a less than zero reason to give this a run if it necessitates a long term family relationship during work weeks. That would be the SUCKS.
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Watty
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by Watty »

TexasPE wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 5:22 pm Moving from Technology to Management is often a one-direction move - you may be unpleasantly surprised at how quickly you lose your technical edge. This may make returning to a technical role in the future difficult.
+1000

Even if you can keep your technical skills up to date having been in management will make many employers reluctant to hire you in a staff role since you may be second guessing their management decisions. Some managers will also be reluctant to hire you since you could be seen as being a threat since you might end up taking their job.

You have also been working at the same company for over 20 years. This can be a problem with getting a job elsewhere since a lot of the knowledge that makes you valuable is likely company specific and you may be perceived as being "technically inbred" since you only know one way of doing things. People whine and moan about "job hoppers" but early in my career I changed jobs a number of times and that was invaluable experience. I worked with inventory software and it was really good to have seen three different ways to do something like a physical inventory.

Even now getting a similar technical position at another company might be harder than you may be thinking if a lot of your experience is company specific.
redheadinvestor wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 4:39 pm Switching to manager role allows me to grow further in my career over time(director and up) more than what is achievable in technical role.
.....
I feel like I have around 15 years of career left....
It may not be realistic with your time frame if you want to retire in 15 years.

I never worked at that level but it is rare to see a someone at a director or higher level that has less than 10 of management experience because at that level you are managing the manager.

Even if you get to the point where you are qualified to be promoted to a director level position or higher there needs to be an opening so that can also delay you getting up to that level.
redheadinvestor wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 4:39 pm - I am doing good in current role with decent pay/benefits, work life balance etc, all this will be disturbed. I can't imagine my family moving to Pittsburgh in the middle of high school. I will end up travelling Chicago-Pittsburgh for next 1.5 years which is stressful both emotionally and financially.
You would likely need to fly out Sunday night to be there Monday morning and then fly back Friday evening. That could be brutal.

You would also likely need to pay for this yourself as well as for things like an apartment and another car to keep in Pittsburgh.

That could easily cost $20K a year and I would be concerned that the company might not pay your relocation costs if you do don't do the final move for two years.

Also watch out for your state taxes while you are commuting between states. I have never commuted like that but in the years when I have moved between states I had to file special forms as a resident for only part of the year and they always seemed to use very unfavorable calculations to keep people from gaming the system.

If your kid might go to an in-state university then also look at how you moving might affect their ability to get the in-state tuition. They might also be able to get in-state tuition in Pennsylvania. I don't know how that works.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by fru-gal »

TexasPE wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 5:22 pm
Dottie57 wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 4:46 pm I think excellence in technology role beats management role by a mile.
+1

Moving from Technology to Management is often a one-direction move - you may be unpleasantly surprised at how quickly you lose your technical edge. This may make returning to a technical role in the future difficult.
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Watty
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by Watty »

redheadinvestor wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 4:39 pm My manager more or less made clear to me that my salary growth will be limited going forward.
It varies by the field you are in but hitting your peak earning years when you are in your early 40s or early 50s is normal. After that a big challenge is keeping your salary up, and not getting laid off, until you are ready to retire.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_earning_years

One problem with the management position you are looking at is that you might not ever make it back up to your current earnings level if you do not make it up to the director level.

I retired out of corporate IT as a software developer so I never really saw all the details but from what I pieced together it was not unheard of, or even that uncommon, for IT managers to actually have staff people that made more than the manager.

As part of my job I occasionally dealt with payroll information where I couldn't help but see people's salaries and even as a software developer with 5 or 10 years experience I was making more than many mid level managers in other departments which sort of surprised me.

Be careful about killing the goose(your tech career) that is laying the golden egg.
Last edited by Watty on Sat Nov 23, 2019 10:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by H-Town »

I'm surprised that they offer less money to you considering the technical knowledge you have. I would talk to them to create a role for you (manager + technical consultant) to allow you to have manager role as well as technical consultant. The pay should start at 200k + bonus and up.

I think that they either don't value your contribution with your technical knowledge, or they are just bad at utilizing the best resource they have. Both manager and technical roles are important, but a good company knows to keep its talent and keep it producing.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by Cyclesafe »

Reality bites. Job security hinges around being either a young high flier or being essential. If your company reorganizes though, only being essential will guarantee continuing employment. To be able to work as long as you want, the better bet is to become even more an element of the company's so-called intangible worth. Managers are fungible and expendable. "They" wouldn't hesitate to replace a technically competent but not technically essential manager with someone clueless if it were politically expedient. If this were a dramatic promotion AND a huge bump in compensation, then the risk/return could be worth it. Otherwise, it seems that you are taking on serious risk without sufficient upside.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by whodidntante »

I don't think a $ in Chicago goes as far as a $ in the Pitts. However, both cities have frustrating sports teams. :happy

I do have direct experience doing both technical and management roles, so I'm not an outsider looking in.

Being a manager is significantly different than a technical role regardless of what they tell you. I do recommend it but make certain that you want it. It's much more about people, relationships, team performance, strategy, and occasionally tough decisions that impact people than what you currently do. Management is a good career but it can be a lonely job sometimes. There is also much more "political risk" as a manager. You need to be reasonably skilled at navigating minefields.

If you're anti-social, struggle to navigate team dynamics, or don't care to build up other people then I think you will find management frustrating. It could also be your "last promotion" if you aren't suited for it.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by carolinaman »

Whether or not to take this job depends on your your long term goals and how this new position might fit with it.

FWIW, I twice took higher pay cuts than what you are looking at because the new positions provided greater experience and upward mobility. In both instances, it paid off and my long term pay was much better after taking the initial pay cut.

Apparently you are plateaued in your current technical role. Will the management position offer a better career path? I am guessing it will but this is a conversation you need to have with your prospective new management. Also, if you do pursue the management job, is there an opportunity similar at your current location? Once your local management knows you are seeking a management role, they may offer something similar.

In many companies, technology specialists can become endangered species once they reach age 50 with a high salary. That may not be true in your company, but general speaking, it is true.

I spent 44 years in IT. I was very technical for 12 years and then transitioned into management. It was the right move for me. I found management to be much more challenging and satisfying. It is different and requires some adjustments, but I think you may find it a better long term option. Best wishes.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by ARoseByAnyOtherName »

whodidntante wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:06 am I don't think a $ in Chicago goes as far as a $ in the Pitts. However, both cities have frustrating sports teams. :happy

I do have direct experience doing both technical and management roles, so I'm not an outsider looking in.

Being a manager is significantly different than a technical role regardless of what they tell you. I do recommend it but make certain that you want it. It's much more about people, relationships, team performance, strategy, and occasionally tough decisions that impact people than what you currently do. Management is a good career but it can be a lonely job sometimes. There is also much more "political risk" as a manager. You need to be reasonably skilled at navigating minefields.

If you're anti-social, struggle to navigate team dynamics, or don't care to build up other people then I think you will find management frustrating. It could also be your "last promotion" if you aren't suited for it.
This is sage advice - OP take note.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by nick evets »

whodidntante wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:06 am Being a manager is significantly different than a technical role regardless of what they tell you. I do recommend it but make certain that you want it. It's much more about people, relationships, team performance, strategy, and occasionally tough decisions that impact people than what you currently do. Management is a good career but it can be a lonely job sometimes. There is also much more "political risk" as a manager. You need to be reasonably skilled at navigating minefields.

If you're anti-social, struggle to navigate team dynamics, or don't care to build up other people then I think you will find management frustrating. It could also be your "last promotion" if you aren't suited for it.
This is a terrific post. I moved into management from a technical role at an IT megacorp a few years ago. Management is very different, and may seem a lot easier than it is, from outside.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by FIREchief »

redheadinvestor wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 6:40 pm Thanks for all responses so far.

I don't mind moving away completely from technical to management track.

I feel like I have around 15 years of career left out, All that I am trying to do is to make good use of remaining time and ensure it is secure and comfortable. I am worried that technical track/individual contributors are always challenged. It is less of an issue for management track.
At my Megacorp, the bolded is absolutely not true. I moved out of a STEM position into technical management with about the same amount of career remaining. The extra $$$ enabled FIRE, but I would have much more enjoyed my time had I remained in a technical position. It takes nothing more than a top leadership change for yesterday's valued managers to become tomorrow's target for "going away." We see a lot of posts by folks who found themselves North of fifty and suddenly on thin ice.
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Kenkat
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by Kenkat »

The answer to this question will depend on your career goals and what motivates you in a job.

For me, the answer would be an emphatic hell no. Nope, nada, nah baby nah. Tried it before and it’s not for me.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by rich126 »

As others mention, it helps a lot to have a job you enjoy. I've done my best to avoid management roles for a few reasons:
1. I enjoy puzzles, thinking, technical tasks. While I've done a lot of programming or other work, I've never viewed myself as a programmer and don't want to program full time, instead I like solving technical problems, and if need be, will resort to programming or scripting to help solve it.

2. I'm not a people person. I don't intend to offend anyone and try to put myself in their shoes but I guess I'm pretty blunt at times and while that can be good at times, some people don't like it. I'm not particular fond of some of the weird problems that people have brought to me while I was acting as a manager for over a year. Some of the stuff was really stupid and it usually involves the same 1-2 people.

3. The first people to get fired/laid off, etc. when things are tight are the middle managers. The higher level ones often protect each other and the technical people are the ones bringing in the money so except for the low ranking ones, they are safe.

4. Longer hours. Not always true but when you are a manager, unless you are at the top, you have bosses that want stuff done at the last minute. As a technical person I've avoided that stuff. And if you are good, managers often will want to avoid annoying you since the market is strong for tech folks.

Having said all that, the world needs a lot of GOOD managers. Too many go into the role because they are power hungry, can't do technical work, etc. I've been fortunate to work for two great ones (and I'm harsh on people) and have seen too many abusers in management roles.

Do what you want. My only concern is why they want to pay you less. I've never heard of that in my years of working.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by FIREchief »

rich126 wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 8:17 pm My only concern is why they want to pay you less. I've never heard of that in my years of working.
My guess was because the new job is in a much lower COL area. Hopefully the OP will elaborate.
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8foot7
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by 8foot7 »

My rule of thumb is that in general it doesn’t make sense for your salary to go backward. In general new positions should involve raises, especially those which require uprooting your family. There may be exceptions, but I don’t think this is one of them.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by GuineaPig »

A lot of the talk here is about doing technical work vs management. I don't think that's the key question.

I think you should analyze the value of this change vs the disruption in your family life. In reading your post, it sounds like the offer is only marginally appealing (otherwise, you wouldn't be asking the opinions of strangers!), but has a significant cost in terms of your family.

I know that for me, it definitely would not be worth it. I'd stick with your original plan of looking for a new job when your kid is out of the house. Or, if you really are unhappy with the current job, you could look for something in Chicago that wouldn't involve the family disruption.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by onthecusp »

I've gone from technical to managerial roles and back again and generally gained on each transition, so it is not necessarily a one way street, although within a company it usually is. This might be an opportunity to explore other options as well such as consulting firms. That could also be an option after getting some experience on the management side. If you are going to management be sure you really want to learn, by experience, how to handle people both above and below your position. Most new managers are good at one or the other and burn out on frustrations with the other direction.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by bampf »

Honestly the delta in salary is concerning. Put another way, if you want to increase your earnings and make a shift, then you should do that, but, in a big city with lots of tech you shouldn't have to take a pay cut. More importantly, it takes a different set of skills to climb the management track. Your bs meter has to be high and your willingness to tolerate poor behavior is something you will have to come to terms with. A good leader makes a lot of difference. You have to embrace the transition and it is a constant challenge. People are multi variant equations and you have to manage up and down. Very complex, very challenging, very fun and quite lucrative if you are good at it. I wouldn't take a risk, a pay cut and a move all at the same time. My 2 cents.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by Tracker968 »

I went from technical to management and then back to technical. Being a technical manager was 10 times as tough mentally. You need to relay upper level decisions even if you don't agree with them (but you can't say that to your team). You have to jump when the director or VP says jump. The entire job is personality based, public speaking, and walking the fine line between being assertive enough that they don't see you as a push over, but not so assertive that you piss off the wrong person. If they paying you 20% more I wouldn't advise making the change.
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by averagedude »

I would not move into management for less pay unless you have a strong desire to be a leader of people. On the flip side of the coin, you shouldn't move into management for the sole reason of more money. If you do, you will earn every penny of it.
KyleAAA
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by KyleAAA »

If you are open to relocation anyway, why not move to the west coast? There are no such artificial limits to compensation for ICs out west and you could likely double your income with ease. I wouldn't take a pay cut for a much more difficult role.
rich126
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Re: switch to manager role with 10% less pay, good idea?

Post by rich126 »

bampf wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 10:12 pm Honestly the delta in salary is concerning. Put another way, if you want to increase your earnings and make a shift, then you should do that, but, in a big city with lots of tech you shouldn't have to take a pay cut. More importantly, it takes a different set of skills to climb the management track. Your bs meter has to be high and your willingness to tolerate poor behavior is something you will have to come to terms with. A good leader makes a lot of difference. You have to embrace the transition and it is a constant challenge. People are multi variant equations and you have to manage up and down. Very complex, very challenging, very fun and quite lucrative if you are good at it. I wouldn't take a risk, a pay cut and a move all at the same time. My 2 cents.
That still bothers me. If they view the person as a future leader or important cog of the company, I can't imagine offering them less money since most people when offered less money are offended and will leave (usually not right away but eventually) unless their skill set is undesirable.
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