Employees typically get promoted because they are your top performers and management sees potential in their future with the organization. They are promoted because they complete their assignments with speed, accuracy and quality and, with little direction. These high performing individual contributors are self-motivated, hard working and experts in their field. But because they succeeded as an individual contributor, does it mean they will automatically succeed as a manager?
While there are some employees who will make a smooth transition from individual contributor to manager with little coaching, most employees need guidance and manager training to understand their new role. The role of a manager can be very different from the role of an individual contributor and educating a new manager about the difference will better ensure their success. While there are many topics you’ll want to educate your new managers on, you’ll want to be sure to address the following:
Change in focus – Where an individual contributor is primarily focused on their own work and getting work done in a timely fashion, as a new manager, they now need to focus on the team of people that report to them. A main responsibility of a manager is to develop and guide their direct reports. The delegation necessary to achieve this may not be first nature to a new manager. Training should address this new focus and teach a new manager the new skills necessary for them to develop their employees and delegate responsibilities.
Get to know people – As an individual contributor relationships were likely more socially based. On the flip side, a manager should know their employees on a much different level. What motivates their employees? What are their professional goals? What are their challenges and strengths? Teaching new managers the boundaries of their new relationships and the skills to get to know their employees on a different level will be important as they work to gain the trust of their employees.
Don’t avoid problems – Giving on-going constructive feedback will enable employees to grow and learn. While giving feedback is never a manager’s favorite part of the job, feedback is paramount for a good operating team. The cost of not giving feedback includes ill-will, de-motivating hard working employees, loss in employee productivity, and loss of employee morale. Teaching new managers how to have difficult conversations and giving good constructive feedback will arm them with necessary skills.
Share information – The old adage, “Information is power”, does not apply. Hogging the knowledge will only undermine the team. It used to be that a manager showed his/her authoritarian power to employees and didn’t involve employees in the decision making processes. In today’s world, a manager should work to empower their team to action and engage them in the discussion. One of the best ways to do this is to share information about the goals and objectives. Managers should be taught that while they should involve and engage their employees, the ultimate decision rests with them.
We do a disservice to employees by promoting them without properly preparing them and educating them about their new role as a manager. Educating new managers about their new role will set them up for success.