Seems there is a general expectation (from HR departments, upper management, colleagues) that after many years as an engineer the next logical career progression is into management. The concept is that if one does not make it to a management position, there must be something deficient about that individual.
Some of these managers (a few of my former bosses) were promoted to management simply because they were lousy at engineering - were not capable of designing their way out of a wet paper bag. That said, I did have one engineer-turned-manager boss who was a brilliant designer and mentor. Unfortunately, he was the exception.
Some highly skilled engineers enjoy their technical activities so much that they have no desire to "progress" into management, other than directing their own projects while doing the technical work themselves. These are the ones with a passion for what they do.
@Max The Magnificent it seems like every engineer runs into at least one "bad manager" even if they're only been in the workforce for a short while.
But what bothers me most about modern management "opportunities" are stacked against the newly minted manager. With dozens of direct reports, it's next to impossible for managers to learn and succeed. It's no wonder that so many fail to make it through the management gauntlet.
Bad managers are legendary, but so then are great managers. I'm afraid that today's crop of engineering managers are being short-chyanged.
I've told this story before... I used to work for a company where there was one really bad manager. We'd be in the lab when he brought visitors round. We could hear him talking. He always explained how there had been a problem, and he had come up with a brilliant solution (when he hadn't), and how he had saved the day etc. etc. etc.
There was another manager called Pete Miles. Without a doubt one of the best managers I have ever known. When Pete brought visitors to the lab, you'd here him say things like "Then we ran into an issue with XYZ, we were stumped for a while, but then our intern John came up with a brillian solution. Look, there's John ... John, come over here and let me introduce you to..." And "John" would come over, blushing and embarrased, and Pete woudl sing his praises and make his day.
The way Pete made it sound, he didn't do anything, he was just lucky to have great peiole working for him ... but the thing was that he was a great engineer and a great manager who could get his team to give 100% all the time.