How to Spot Future Managers

By CareerFOXBusiness

On the face of it promoting your star performer seems to make sense. In the corporate world, you reward those who shine by giving them a leg-up on the corporate ladder. In the sports word this would be the equivalent of naming Tom Brady head coach of the New England Patriots based on his MVP performance in the Super Bowl.

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To most this would sound a bit silly, but it’s pretty much standard practice in the business world. If that analogy isn’t enough then consider that Gallup researchers have found only 18% of those with management responsibility actually possess a high level of talent for managing people. In other words we are failing to select and promote the right people into management 82% of the time.

What’s more, Gallup’s recently released State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders report found that only 35% of managers in the U.S. are actively engaged in their work and a startling 51% are disengaged. Spotting the right talent to promote into management and fostering their engagement are two critical elements of business success that far too many companies just can’t seem to get a handle on. To take advantage of these game changing opportunities consider the following:   

Pick the Right Players to Elevate 

As previously mentioned the vast majority of candidates selected for management roles don’t have the requisite blend of skills and abilities to perform at a high level. Time and again polls have shown that people rarely quit jobs, they quit bad bosses. According to Gallup bad managers can cost our economy anywhere from a $319 billion to $398 per year. There are a lot of behaviors that drive these numbers, which I wrote about in last week’s column.

There is no doubt that picking the right manager is critical. The challenge is to avoid the trap of elevating star players based on their performance as players. It’s tempting to want to reward talent, but you must consider the talent required for their future role not their current one. Gallup’s research has found there are five core competencies that managers must possess in order to be highly effective.

Top managers must be able to:

  • Motivate positive actions
  • Assert themselves in tough situations
  • Make objective business decisions
  • Demand accountability
  • Build relationships through open dialogue

When vetting potential managers be sure to use the above criteria as your guide and develop interviews and assessments that will allow you to objectively test these capabilities.

Get Behind those Players You Elevate 

After selection, the second greatest challenge with managers in this country is lack of training. Even for that top 18% managing isn’t all natural. There are a lot of behaviors that must be developed over time, which require care and nurturing.

Provide regular and ongoing training, mentoring, and evaluations that touch on:

  • Building trust
  • Strengthening communication
  • Creating and communicating vision  
  • Delegating and empowering
  • Decision making
  • Prioritizing 
  • Spotting and developing strengths
  • Having tough conversations 

Training programs such as my From Player to Coach program cover these areas in depth and can provide great ideas on where to start.

Foster Their Engagement

If your managers aren’t engaged your people will never be engaged. The role of a good manager is to work through their people to get business results. Thus, they must be people motivators with a drive for engaging others and motivating positive action. Give them the autonomy to actively manage their people and start with simple engagement techniques like:

  • Catching your people doing something right and rewarding them
  • Regularly sharing your metrics and letting people know their part in driving the business
  • Saying thank you everyday  

Good management is more than just putting points on the board. When it comes to making promotional decisions, managers and executives need to be thoughtful in their choices. Backtracking after you promoted them, in a ‘sink or swim’ fashion, doesn’t serve you or the employee.

Select and promote the right people for the right reasons and get behind them.

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