You've promoted your "best" employee to Manager - What now?

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

Let’s be honest, it’s still the case that many people promoted into their first people manager role have no idea what they are doing i.e. how to manage, lead and get the best from people now in their charge.

I honestly don’t blame the new managers for this. Who can blame anyone for wanting to progress their career, to see an opportunity to move into a management role and to take it? Good for them I say!

Leaders and organisations are often guilty (some, not all of course) of taking their hardest workers, the dedicated people who come in early, leave late, take on new projects, volunteer for additional work or new opportunities or who stand out as the best technically qualified and competent people in a team and promote them in to a management role.

The harsh truth is that these newly promoted managers are often totally unprepared for what lies ahead.

What next?

Well, the people who have adorned the individual with the title of “Manager” seem to expect that they will, without proper preparation and support, effortlessly and effectively manage, lead, get the best from their team and deliver results.

That’s just crazy!

Talk about setting someone up for failure rather than setting them up for success.

Unfortunately, I speak from experience. I was that newly promoted manager once, many years ago now, and my goodness did I learn the hard way. I made so many unnecessary mistakes along the way.

That early experience taught me one very important lesson: I promised myself that when I progressed into a leadership role, I would not make the mistake of promoting someone into a people management role without making sure the right support was in place. I committed to myself that I would prepare them in advance of the promotion, support them in the early days of their move into management and continue to develop them to ensure I was giving them the best opportunity to succeed.

So, what can you do to make sure you support a new manager and set them up for success?

Explain the expectations: This is not limited to the expectations of the role, but more importantly, the leadership behaviours and values that they are expected to live and breathe as someone in a people leader role.

Establish clear goals: Agree goals for the coming 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months to ensure that the new manager has clarity in terms of what must be done and to provide an opportunity for some early wins in order to build confidence and credibility.

Prescribe a Mentor: Make sure the new manager has someone to tap into for advice and guidance.

Assign a Coach (Internal or External): This is essential as it empowers the new manager and allows them to learn from experiential learning in the role, reflecting on what they have done well, could have done better, and would do differently next time, all in a “safe space”

Invest in People Leader development: This should cover, as a minimum, How to recruit and select new hires; how to manage the performance of people in the team; how to develop people in the team; how to coach people in the team; how to understand the role of a manager versus leader; develop leadership skills and how to say goodbye to employees i.e. how to exit employees with empathy and respect.

Encourage: Offer help and encouragement and be accessible to the new manager. Make sure they are encouraged to:

  • Practice what they have learned

  • Experiment

  • Fail fast and often and learn quickly

  • Reflect

  • Improve – Aim to get better everyday

  • Repeat

Hold them accountable: Finally, ensure new managers understand their responsibilities and hold them accountable. Managers need to appreciate the responsibility they have to the people they lead and the organisations that have entrusted them with the responsibility to lead and manage. Ultimately, managers must deliver what is expected.

Rod Pearson

+44 7984672529.