We often think that the natural next step for a star employee is to become a supervisor or manager of their own team. It’s the ultimate acknowledgement for a job well done, right? Maybe. Maybe not.
Often the criteria for these management promotions are merely knowledge of the company, knowledge of the function, and/or seniority. Although these are good reasons to acknowledge an employee, they don’t necessarily make for good leadership qualities. And in the absence of other qualities necessary to succeed in a management role, often result in less than optimal outcomes for both the employee and the company.
If you are considering promoting someone to a leadership role, put on your “recruitment” hat and evaluate that employee just as you would someone from the outside. Yes, their company and functional knowledge give them an advantage, but as they move into leadership those qualities will be secondary to their ability to influence, to make decisions, to manage conflict and to do all the other activities required of a manager.
Before you make that promotion, do the following:
- Define the skills and responsibilities required for the role. What are the specific skills required for someone to succeed in the role? Think about the additional responsibilities of the team manager and then map those responsibilities to requisite skills. Be as detailed as possible, including budgetary responsibility, signing authority, key internal/external relationships for the role, etc.
- Define the leadership traits and competencies required for this specific role. Consider the function, the members of the team, how the team fits into the overall organization. What aspects of leadership (e.g., leading through people, setting a vision, coaching) does the manager of this team need to have?
- Now think about the person you are considering promoting relative to the skills, responsibilities and competencies you’ve outlined in steps 1 and 2. Where are the gaps? Are the gaps improvement areas that you are ready and willing to address? Is the individual teachable?
Once you’ve determined that the individual would be a good fit for the manager role, be sure you have a conversation to determine their interest. And be sure that once the promotion is made you put together a plan for leadership development and ongoing coaching and support for them.
Please contact me if you need help in putting together a leadership development plan or if you need assistance in assessing whether your employee is ready for the next level position.