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Nice to see a clear explanation of dual career ladders, Jacque.

The comments I started to post ended up growing into an article-sized expansion of your points. The topic deserves a bit more elaboration, displaying the pros and cons in more detail. I'll draft such a new one...

Thanks Jim. Some high tech companies reserve the non-management track just for their "techie" positions. No Accountants or HR people allowed! This gets into the issue of differentiating critical skillsets --- critical for the company's survival, etc.

To make it clear, I envision the highest level of "guru" non-management track the most skilled computer scientist at ___(wherever). This would be someone who is well known in Computer Science circles, creates things no one has ever thought possible, etc. A real guru.

From a compensation viewpoint, these jobs --- perhaps all jobs in the non-management track --- would be very difficult to match. Most surveys stop at the Consultant or Sr. Consultant level --- one level short of true management.

The more I think about -- for various reasons --- the more I think surveys are beginning to outlive their usefulness.

I agree with Jim--it's good to revisit some comp 101 topics. You realize with experience that nothing is quite as simple as it's portrayed in a textbook, so revisiting and focusing on the nuance is much appreciated. I look forward to Jim's follow up.

We created dual career paths at a prior company I was with. The program allowed one or two individual contributor levels at the manager level. Moving into these positions was a normal continuation of the process that governed movement up to that point - primarily performance and taking on additional or larger levels of responsibility. After that, further advancement up the individual contributor path was governed by a completely difference process. Things like thought leadership, publication in trade journals, conceptual design, and prominence in industry were the criteria. Additionally, appointment to these higher levels required approval by a mgt committee. These hurdles assured that the positions stayed true to the intent.

I would be curious as to what the community has seen in terms of "definitions", or "parameters" for what it takes to be slotted in "Manager" levels, versus "Professional IC" Levels. This is a slightly different topic than the one posted here (which is more about career development, and right people in the right place). Heck, maybe it's an idea for another post.... In a practical since, I am asking "when is a job 'management' v. when is it 'ic' ". 1 direct report ? Manage a budget? Manage a program ? 2 direct reports ? Manage outside vendors ? I have my opinions, and have dealt with this before.... I usually say something like "the intent of the structure is to capture true people management as the primary function of the role." But, this could be different in different places... thoughts ?

What Jeff describes is the essential distinction between supervisor and manager. In my lexicon, supervisor always means you have multiple direct reports and people-skills are the essential competency sets. Managers, OTOH, can be individual contributors directing functions with no subordinates and little need for human relations KSAs. It was covered in http://www.compensationcafe.com/2013/05/pay-f.html and http://www.compensationcafe.com/2012/02/is-it-the-person-or-the-position.html.

Ann Bares will publish my article expanding on the career latter topic soon, I'm sure.

Phil --- that's been my experience as well. Gaining additional skills and publishing in journals, representing a professional function at a conference, etc. Example: An engineer speaking regularly at the IEEE conference. Seen as an SME in his/her profession.

Also having a company committee review/approve promotions to the next level of IC track employees. Strict guidelines to keep the integrity of the program.

Jeff --- agree with you that it is not easy to separate Manager from IC. The distinction of what takes up the majority of time is what I have experienced. I've found it to be rare to have a first level Manager to spend 100% of the time "managing". There is usually some "doing" as well. Many companies don't have the luxury of having a strict 100% cutoff.

Jim --- I guess we just have different opinions on this.

I don't hear the Supervisor title used unless managing non-exempt employees. Example: Accounting clerks, production operators. Never heard it used for managing exempt level employees. Maybe in government or unionized companies the title supervisor is used. And I realize that you have had a lot of experience in both.

Manager is also used for people who "manage" a large company project or program. Example: managing Benefits with maybe one non-exempt clerk or one professional.

I think surveys make this clear. I know the Radford surveys have definitions for Manager and Sr. level IC.

Thank you for all the comments. Joe is right --- revisiting Comp 101 topics is good for all of us.

Joe -- Look for my follow-up piece, "Reward by Sharing Career Options" tomorrow, November 12, 2014.

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