Whether or not to promote employees to their first management position is a tough call and somewhat of a gamble. The smartest, most productive employees may still bomb as managers.
This is because managing people calls for leadership ability – a very different skill from production.
Leaders must be able to inspire others so that they want to follow. That requires fairness and respect for diversity, setting a good example and the abilities to communicate clearly, manage conflicts and sometimes give tough feedback.
It also requires a certain amount of attention to details and a willingness to do whatever needs to be done – even if it’s unpleasant.
Following are six guidelines that may help you decide whether employees would make good managers:
1. Assess employees’ 360-degree relationships. That is, what are their relationships with managers, peers and people in lesser positions? Ask people whose opinions you trust what they think of the candidates.
2. Observe employees in meetings and other interpersonal situations. When a decision needs to be made, do they ask others for their opinions, and if so, how intently do they listen to the answers?
3. Take note of how employees handle disagreements with co-workers. Do they try to understand the other person’s position and find a mutually acceptable solution, or do they seek to push through their own agenda?
4. Notice how employees perform in a crisis or stressful situation. Do they remain relatively calm and personable? Do they keep their sense of humor? Or do they become anxious, paralyzed or rude?
5. Be aware of how employees respond to challenges. Do they welcome them? Do they volunteer for new projects? Or do they seem to stick with the familiar and resist change?
6. Observe how much attention employees give to the details of their jobs. A manager’s job can succeed or fail depending on attention to detail. Do employees do whatever it takes to get a job done right? Or do they seem to spend most of their time on the tasks they enjoy at the expense of the less pleasant ones?
The following are the top ten skills that employers seek in managers, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers:
1. Communication skills
4. Leadership ability
5. Academic achievement
6. Interpersonal skills
8. Technical skills
10. Work ethic and problem-solving skills
Having a good employee become a poor manager, unfortunately, is not uncommon. When it happens, the human and financial costs are high. It’s worth your while to go slowly, assess all candidates carefully, and make a decision only when you have enough information – and the right information.