Employees get promoted because of their skills in being able to get the job done. So now they go from being a doer to being a manager, where their success lies not on their ability to get the job done, but on their ability to develop, motivate, inspire and hold accountable others who get the job done.
At best, the employee gets formal training and coaching to help him think and act like a manager instead of an individual contributor. When effective, the productivity of the team far outweighs the productivity of the new manager. At worst, the team complains of micro-managing and that their new boss gets too much in the weeds. This negatively impacts the team’s competence, confidence and job satisfaction.
The new manager is in a conundrum, however. If we assume he was the most effective employee on his team (hence why he was selected for the promotion over his peers), then everyone else on the team is less skilled at doing the job. The mistake that leaders often make is expecting and pressuring their new manager to maintain the same level of productivity. In reality, there is more likely to be a performance dip as the new manager hands off his responsibilities to people who are currently less skilled. When done effectively, however, the new manager is able to coach his team into developing new skills and improving their performance. The coaching will change over time as the team members’ competence and confidence increases – going from mostly directive (showing and telling) to more supportive (acknowledging and challenging).
Below are 5 ways to ensure a smooth transition for employees being promoted from individual contributor to manager:
Manage expectations: ensure that the manager’s boss and his direct reports (formerly his peers) understand the development curve and plan for a natural dip in output.
Communicate clearly and often: provide the boss and other relevant stakeholders regular communications about the team’s progress against a timeline and success metrics (updated as needed).
Assess level of risk: initially choose low-risk responsibilities to handoff, leading to moderate risk and eventually hire risk activities as the team develops competence and confidence. Low risk responsibilities are one’s that can fail without significant negative impact to the business.
Do a competency analysis: early in the role as manager, identify the competencies, skills and knowledge necessary for all projects, initiatives and other responsibilities of the department against the competencies, skills and knowledge of each team member. Conduct a gap analysis and create a plan to close the gap, including training, coaching, mentoring, redistribution of responsivities (to people’s natural strengths), process improvements, and gathering support
from other teams as appropriate.
Be planful in when and what responsibilities are transferred to team members: assign responsibilities based on risk level,
Dr. Jeff Kaplan is a business psychologist and executive coach who coaches executives and high potentials to lead with heart. Jeff helps leaders to work more collaboratively with others, recognizing that people are an organization’s greatest asset.