The Shift From an Individual Contributor to Manager – Some Thoughts

I have been in my current role managing the Campus Recruitment Team and function here at Oracle for the past 3.5 years or so. I was previously an Individual Contributor for 5 years here before I made the shift into a management role. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to take on this current role as I have learnt so much both personally and professionally.

I am constantly challenged (in a good way) to push myself out of my comfort zone and on reflection the last 3-4 years has led to real growth for me. During this time I have made plenty of mistakes and had many growing pains but I think that I have learned from them and I think I am now starting to find my own management style. As an Individual Contributor all the projects I worked on together with my colleagues was done collaboratively and I find that I have taken that approach to my current role as well.

A few things I have observed/learned as a relatively new manager over the past 3-4 years has been that:

1)      Be transparent with your customers and with your team – The best approach is to make sure that people know what is happening and why something is happening. Some people may not like or agree with something but it is better to get this out in the open so at least everyone understands why a certain action is being taken.

2)      Work with People That Share Your Passion/Belief – I love our Campus Team, each Recruiter in the team continues to surprise me with new ideas and approaches they are using to source the best candidates. We have challenges that we need to overcome but we all share the same belief in doing a great job and a team that is committed to each other and believes in their work is so much more successful than those that are just going through the motions.

3)      Trust Your Team – My boss gives me the flexibility to manage my work and I have taken a page from his book and try to share the same principal with the people I work with. There are great people in our team who know what to do – I try to guide people and keep them focused on our larger goals but also I have learned to step out of the way to let them do what it is they are good at.

4)      Walk the Walk – Do the work with the team – The old approach of top down management does not work. I enjoy working side by side with our team not on top of them. We have a team of great individuals who know what needs to be done, I try to be there to support them achieve their goals them not tell them what to do.

5)      Be Clear and Concise – I like big ideas but I also know sometimes I talk in big picture terms and the message of what needs to be done individually can do gets lost in my enthusiasm or not properly communicated. This is something I have learnt about myself and continue to work on.

theoryxyThere are a number of other observations that I can write down but I have just written 5 that came to my mind as I started writing this. I think management is changing for the better – as we continue to shift to an information/services based economy the way we work with people is changing, people that can adapt to change and be open minded will be successful. I have interviewed a number of Recruiters over the years for our team and many people that interview with me are surprised or not able to get their head wrapped around a different style of management outside of the old fashioned manage down and micromanagement style that still exists in many organisations. I think to be successful I need to make sure I surround myself with people who love customer service as much as I do and people who will challenge the status quo with me and be open to new ideas which we do really well.


I am sure I will make more mistakes, but mistakes can be good – it means you are trying something new and you can only keep developing yourself if you keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and not become complacent.

One thought on “The Shift From an Individual Contributor to Manager – Some Thoughts

  1. Good to see this from you David. I think you should write more often – writing down your thought or what you believe in does help in staying focused – A practice that I have started recently.

    I heard many times at many occasions people saying “Do what you love”!! But I rather believe in “Love What You DO”. A Little Practical approach sounds more reasonable to me over Philosophical. When you really start loving what you do, you will be ready to take up any challenge at any situation – and it will only testify whether you are loving what you do or not when you make “mistakes”. Mistakes are actually good! It’s a proof that you are passionate about your job and committed to make a difference.


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