Most companies embrace the strategy of promoting from within when looking for new managers. The benefits are obvious – lower hiring costs, higher morale, reduced training demand, and the list goes on and on. But if this is such a great approach, then why do about half of all first-time managers fail in their first year? Usually, it’s one or more of the following reasons.
A person may truly excel at their current position, but then fall short when it’s time to manage others. Leadership skills can be taught, but not in a sink-or-swim way. If you think you have an employee with management potential, but their leadership instincts don’t particularly shine, move them into the position gradually. Delegate tasks that require collaboration, communication, and teamwork and see how they do before you offer them a promotion. Customize their e-learning paths with leadership topics, and follow up with one-on-one training.
Setup to Fail
You should already know that over-promising and under-delivering to your customers will get you in trouble. The same is true with your new managers. When talking to an employee about moving up, be honest about what the job requires. Go beyond the job description. Explain not just what they’ll need to do, but how they’ll need to do it, and with whom. For new managers to succeed, they need to understand how their role in the team will change.
Expectations are a two-way street. You need to be clear with new managers about what how they’re expected to perform. Potential managers need to be clear with you about how they think they’ll be expected to perform. If there’s a gap between those two perceptions, it’s best to deal with it before offering a promotion.
Lack of Training
While some new managers fail because they just aren’t cut out for the job, the majority who fail do so because they were not given the proper training before or after their promotions. Set managers up for success by tailoring their training to specific needs of their new jobs. Then, give them a mentor who they can go to as they face challenges. It’s likely you picked them for a promotion because they proved themselves to you throughout their development with the company. Give them that same opportunity in their roles as new managers.