In today’s workforce, moving up the corporate ladder is the marker of success. People move from company to company searching for the one that will provide them with the largest potential to advance and make more money. At most corporate offices today, a bigger salary is usually the result of a promotion into a management position.
The higher salary and prestigious job title of manager or director make management positions a popular career move for many high-performing employees. But a recent Forbes article reports that nearly half of all managers can’t manage. This does not mean that half of all employees are incompetent. It simply means that management is not for everyone. Being a manager requires a mix of specific skills, including developing strategy and communicating effectively with many people, that many employees cannot pull together into a cohesive and effective management style.
We have a tendency to associate skill or expertise at a particular task with general leadership skills. Popular thinking is that the people who excel at their jobs will one day move into management positions and excel at those as well. But this is not the case. Warren Buffet said that there are a certain percentage of people born with a desire to lead. Anyone can become an expert at his or her job or skill with practice and dedication. But not everyone can be a manager. Here are three ways to make sure you are promoting the right people into management positions:
1.Do a test run.
Are you considering someone for a management position because you have a feeling that they have the necessary skills? A test run can be exactly what you need to confirm or deny your gut feeling. Put the prospective manager in charge of your next project team. Note how well your candidate handles budget restraints and communicates with his or her team. Pay special attention to whether or not the candidate holds employees accountable for their work. A Harvard Business Review survey found that 46 percent of managers believe they fall short in holding people accountable. You can monitor your candidate by working with the team or asking that he or she CC you on all emails and invite you to all team meetings. Through emails and meetings, you can get a good idea of how effectively the candidate communicates, how well he or she delegates and how he or she motivates the team. These factors combined give you an excellent view of the managerial candidate’s leadership abilities.
2.Consider developing leaders internally.
A leadership development program for new hires, especially people right out of college, is a great way to identify who has the desire and competencies required to be your company’s next generation of leaders. A popular starting point with this program is searching for candidates who already have leadership experience in other organizations, whether that experience was in a campus organization or leading a team during an internship. Once the leadership candidates are in your organization, assign them projects or job rotations that will develop and test their leadership competencies. Make the program a fixed length. This gives you a period of time at the end to review the leadership candidate’s performance before deciding where to place him or her within the company permanently. If you found that the candidate has excellent leadership skills, put him or her on a management track. If not, find an appropriate job that utilizes the candidate’s unique skill set. Both GE and Johnson and Johnson have had success with their own internal leadership development programs.
3.Create routes other than management positions for talented employees to advance in the organization.
Like we emphasized earlier, not every great employee will make a great manager. Many employees know whether or not they are good leaders instinctively. They still pursue management positions because these might be the only way to move into a higher pay grade. Create a promotion system that rewards successful but non-management material employees with a new title and adequate pay raise. Consider creating job titles that indicate that someone works on a director level without putting them in charge of people. If organizations reward only managers with high salaries, everyone will try to be a manager. If there is an alternative for gaining a prestigious job title and higher salary, those who do not truly want to be managers will pursue the alternatives instead.
These are only a few ideas. You must decide which tactics work for your company and tailor them to fit your employees. The big idea to keep in mind is that the search for a manager is a search for excellent leadership skills, not a search for competencies at one job function.
How do you select which employees to promote to management positions?