Excelling at your job does not mean you will excel in leading people. Yet high performers are consistently promoted into management positions without the skills needed for connecting with employees and guiding them toward optimum performance. What must you be mindful of when ensuring the right people are promoted into management? 5 minute read. 

Promoting the right people into leadership

We have all heard the mantra, employees don’t leave organizations, they leave bad bosses.  I’ve seen much of this in my career both as a manager and in building high performance teams and work groups. Ensuring the right people are promoted into management is key to an organization’s bottom line.

Take Ed, for example.  He excelled at sales.  He was self-motivated and worked well independently while driving a remarkable percentage of closings. As a result, Ed was made a manager with the same level of earnings as his sales when you accounted for the override he received for the sales his team closed. However, the income brought in through his sales was never replicated through his salary and commission overrides before he headed for the door.

Working collaboratively with others wasn’t Ed’s strong suit. He excelled at individualistic activities.  He expected everyone to be independent achievers. He would go out with new sales people a couple of times and then they were on their own.  He also created unhealthy competition on his team and multiple trust issues.  For example, his employees guarded their leads and locked them in their desks. They were reluctant to share ideas and helping one another was out of the question.  Mentoring by more senior sales associates dropped off. Ed ended up bullying under performers. His communications were aggressive and often demeaning because he was pressed to re earn company revenue lost when he became manager. Shaming his team into working harder didn’t work.  He finally quit when he learned he was to be fired.

Ed’s experience isn’t new. It isn’t rare.  According to Gallup’s data, half of American workers have left jobs to escape a bad boss. Business culture that equates a senior title to good management skills is a poor assumption and is not backed by reputable data.

What skills to look for to ensure the right people are promoted into management

Individualistic people like Ed who are stellar achievers often lack team leadership and coaching skills without considerable training, self-development and reflection. This is if they are free of narcissistic personality disorder.

Narcissists tend to be high achievers and very driven, because they believe that they need to be special and superior. Psychologists estimate that up to 5% of people have narcissistic personality disorder, which is one of 10 personality disorders. These disorders cause people to think, feel and behave in ways that hurt themselves or others.

In a case study presented in the book, TIGERS Among Us – Winning Business Team Cultures and Why They Thrive, a Franchisor had a psychological test developed by a licensed psychiatrist to determine if franchisee or employee candidates fall on the narcissistic personality disorder scale. In his view, narcissists are dangerous in leadership positions. If you want to keep a loyal team together and desire managers who are committed to the success of their team members, which means someone other than themselves, then considering who you elevate into management positions is a wise thing to do.

Ultimately work culture and management behavior are intertwined. If your managers are invested in coaching employees and guiding them to succeed in their roles, here are some outcomes you can experience:

  • Employees understand how what they accomplish is valuable to the organization and where they fit into organizational success. Pride and enhanced belonging is the ultimate outcome. With this comes greater loyalty.
  • Workers have a clear understanding of what the goal is and how to accomplish it. They also understand what performance expectations they are accountable for. Employee personal satisfaction and success is the ultimate outcome.
  • When an employee is stuck, their manager helps them get unstuck through excellent coaching and inquiry skills so the employee is capable of taking actions that move themselves forward. Self-esteem and excellence are ultimate outcomes.
  • Training and development are offered followed by employee learning circles that focus on transferring skills from training into solving organizational problems or advancing strategic goals. The return on training investment is measurable in the organizational bottom line as one outcome. Employees also build relationships with people in other departments.
  • Leaders of learning circles are self-selected and are reviewed based on key leadership criteria to be considered for team leadership positions. A succession leadership pipeline is created to elevate the right people into management positions.
  • Employees who participate in learning circles experience opportunities to serve on cross-functional teams, excel where they are or prepare for career enrichment through lateral moves.

What do recruiters say about job seekers they work with?

From a work culture perspective, many employees looking for work give the reason for being available to leaving bad bosses and a poor work culture. They were treated as cogs in a machine and not as people who needed to be developed.  They felt tolerated and not appreciated. Their manager was not engaged. They were not supported at work.

Job candidates with management experience say they left the job because they suffered through their own learning curve with a sink or swim approach that left them stressed and nearly burnt out. This meant they had to rely on self-defense behaviors such as micromanagement and no felt sense of personal satisfaction that they were doing a good job.

Ultimately this means that one solution to correct the revolving door is to coach and train people on what good management looks like. This is one reason we created a buddy training program called TIGERS Leadership Fundamentals. This instructor led course teaches you and a work colleague how to build trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk resolution and success behaviors on teams and in leadership performance.  It releases tools for developing learning circles. It also provides a learning community for continued skill development through message boards and access to the training materials for an extended period of time for review. And this training is delivered through a series of micro-training segments. It is a program built for leadership development with coaching while improving your team within the context of the learning design.

Another reason for developing the course is because, as reported by Gallup, one in 10 people have the natural talent to effectively manage others.  Another two in ten have functional managerial talent. This means training managers before assuming leadership positions is the most cost effective way to build any organization. Without this, high turnover of disgruntled employees and managers and talented people who simply do not enjoy the turnover drama leave. This is an expensive proposition that drains the bottom line.  Therefore, coaching and training people on what good management looks like is a responsible solution.

Performance based questions to answer before promoting an employee to management

Employees what to feel seen, heard and appreciated for the work they do. They also desire training and development to stick with an organization for more than three years. Here is some criteria to consider when answering the question, is this person ready for management?

  • Does this person demonstrate self-awareness, self-efficacy, genuineness, empathy and encouragement skills?
  • Is this person trustworthy and do they demonstrate trustworthy behavior in co-worker interactions?
  • Is this person helpful to colleagues who are stuck by sharing knowledge and work strengths?
  • Has this person headed up successful project teams?
  • Does this person provide stabilizing influence during periods of organizational change?
  • Is this person a continual learner who shows eagerness and capacity to learn?
  • Does this person readily share information?
  • Has this person earned the respect and loyalty of co-workers?
  • Does this person show appreciation for co-worker achievements and team contributions?
  • Is this person resilient and eager to learn new methods, techniques and approaches?
  • Has this person demonstrated they learn from mistakes and past actions?
  • Is learning and teaching co-workers a trait this person exhibits?
  • Does this person encourage efforts toward common goals?
  • Is the display of sound ethics part of this person’s performance along with maintaining high ethical standards?
  • Is the empowerment of others part of this person’s skill set and do they excel in developing synergistic strategies?
  • Is this person an assertive communicator with a good grasp of emotional intelligence?
  • Is this person invested in excellence, accountability and personal growth?

Ultimately, poor people managers are a cultural and operational liability that cost organizations both revenue and the ability to move forward. Good people managers have a nurturing and stabilizing influence on their teams and their organizations. The sink or swim approach to manager advancement can easily strip people in management from having any positive influence on employee happiness and development with consequences that extend beyond the workplace. As such elevating people into management positions requires that they be equipped with the tools and training to succeed.

Care to dig deeper into this conversation?

Copyright TIGERS Success Series, Inc. by Dianne Crampton

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