The solitary reaper and the road not taken

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By: Aarthi Sivaramakrishnan --

28 June, 2015

The solitary reaper and the road not taken
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The solitary reaper and the road not taken

Visualize the word "leader". What do you see? Images of a person leading large teams, among other things?

It is interesting how one associates the term "growth" with moving into People Manager (PM) roles in an organizational context. For that matter, even the term "manager" is used in the context of people managers. Often, it is perceived that the size of the team one manages is directly proportional to his / her degree of influence in the organization.

At Beroe, we run Career Conversations, where a HR representative speaks to every employee in the organization to understand career aspirations, advice on available career paths and learning opportunities. In the last six months, 64% of our employees have expressed interest in pursuing an Individual Contributor (IC) path -- be it a research specialist role or client facing / engagement management role in an individual capacity. This stands testimony to the findings in my previous blog on why people work, which revealed that professional mastery and intellectual freedom are the most valued career anchors.

It is also a common misconception that ICs do not "manage". While an IC may not directly manage a team of people, they are often required to influence different stakeholders to complete projects.

Corporate history is replete with examples of people who make pivotal contributions to organizations, but do not have direct reports or hold managerial titles. These professionals grow to be specialists in their own right and wield influence as experts.

Being a knowledge centric organization, influence at Beroe is measured by impact. The wonderful aspect about this methodology is that even an entry level analyst can bring about a profound business impact. It is our endeavor to foster a culture of meritocracy and create career paths for employees to move up the organization irrespective of whether they choose to be an individual contributor or a people manager.

We have all heard of employees moving from an IC role to a PM role, but the reverse is seldom seen in organizations. At Beroe, we cheer a person moving from a PM role to an IC role as much as we do the other way round. Beroe University, run by our Learning & Development (L&D) team, enables every employee to make these shifts, while ensuring that there are opportunities to switch from one track to another.

Do you know of anyone who has taken the less travelled path of moving to a role with more depth (read the IC), while foregoing the more glamourous span of control? Leave a comment, I'd like to know what career anchors drive these decisions.




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