Are your people ready for their next step up?
Promoting from within can be an excellent method of filling the ranks within a growing organization, but there are several pitfalls for senior leaders to consider when organizing their promotion plans and elevating people into new or elevated managerial positions.
These considerations fall into the broad categories of technical skills, peer relationships, and leadership attitude.
Promoting from within is never easy for organizations, but there are concrete steps to ensure that new managers are set up to succeed in their new roles and that their teams are not left leaderless and directionless.
Managers, especially new supervisors, are often promoted on technical merit. After all, if someone is good at a particular job, it can be easy to assume that they are ready for a direct supervisory role over others in the same or similar functions. Job functionality is only part of leadership competence. New managers often find themselves lacking or having little organizational, strategic, and interpersonal skills for their new roles.
For these managers it can be stressful adapting from actively being engaged in one project at a time to managing multiple projects over time, keeping track of each and ensuring accurate and positive outcomes for each. Just the same, they often cannot see how their job affects others inside and outside the organization on a more strategic basis and can have difficulty in finding the appropriate solutions to their teams’ larger-scale problems. As these problems intensify, new leaders can feel additional stress and become further removed from building the crucial relationships with their teams in establishing themselves as a growing leader and functional manager.
Compounding these interpersonal worries — and having the appropriate interpersonal skills to manage, direct, inspire, and review their personnel — is the aspect of their past peer relationships. No one should ever be denied a promotion because they have close friendships in an organization, but these friendships enter a new dynamic when one is promoted over the other, especially if the newly promoted manager finds themselves in a direct supervisory position over their former peers. These new leaders will need additional coaching and support in this environment, as it will be comfortable to either fall back on old relationships creating a possible fraternization atmosphere or become stressed because of the new dynamic and begin to withdraw and craft avoidance behaviors around their former peers.
Attitude is everything in an organization, and it can be an unpredictable aspect to a newly promoted manager. New positions and responsibilities can mean new stressors, and it can often be difficult to ascertain beforehand how someone will react when placed in a higher-responsibility situation. Leaders should be grown into a new position, not thrown in. Proactive mentorship can provide growing leaders an opportunity to hone their skills, develop the mindsets off of a positive role model, and seek resolutions towards smaller problems and apply these outcomes towards larger ones.
New and growing leaders require support in all aspects of their development. It is no simple event to promote someone and then expect them to have the success in their new position as their last. Senior leaders must cultivate a strong strategy in their organizations for how their personnel will grow and develop over time, provide concrete goals, and paths for how careers can, and will, progress.
These pathways should include adequate support at all levels, in both formal training and education, and informal mentorship. Also, there should be planned job enrichment and expansion for growing leaders to give them time to cultivate and hone these skill-sets which can vary widely from their traditional roles.