It’ been nearly 10 years since I stopped writing code and started managing teams. It was a difficult transition for me and I consider myself a high functioning developer. I enjoy talking to less technical people and get satisfaction when I help them understand a complex technical problem. Put me in front of an 8 year old or an 88 year old and I will find a way to help them understand. Not all technology people can do that. It frustrates them when people don’t see the world their way.
This becomes a problem when technologists move into management roles. It works for some, but for the others, it’s just a bad fit. I suspect that most make the move for the same reasons I did — they want to have more influence over the work and they want to make more money.
Unfortunately, within most non-technology companies, the path to have more influence and make more money usually requires moving into management. Traditional corporations have left little room for technology experts to stay experts and contribute at a higher level. HR departments certainly don’t know how to handle it. Google, Facebook and Microsoft clearly understand the value of technical experts. It’s time for non-technology companies to recognize this as well or they will never be able to retain top staff.