You’ve just promoted the perfect employee into a management position. They’re punctual, productive and collaborative. They’re the best fit and they know the job responsibilities better than anyone else. That’s why you chose to promote from within. You want someone who’s experienced; someone who knows the culture and the long term goals for your company.
So why is your new manager failing to thrive in their new position? What happened to the excellent employee you promoted? Why has productivity in their department tanked?
There are several common issues that go unaddressed when employees are promoted to management roles. What can you do to ensure the person you promote will make an effective manager? How can you limit stress and encourage productivity? And most importantly, how can you create a culture that supports success on every rung of the ladder?
Limit Major Changes at First
Many new managers instinctively want to make big changes in the way things are done in their department. Whether they’ve worked in the department for years, or they’ve just been promoted and shifted to head up a new department, they’ll have big ideas. Without proper coaching, they might start firing off in any direction, disrupting established employees and potentially harming the customer experience.
Most employees want to make their mark and are often praised when they break the status quo by implementing new strategies and policies. This is especially true with newly promoted managers, who generally think their performance will be judged by how many new things they can do to help the company succeed.
However, make sure that newly promoted managers know their performance won’t be judged on implementing change. Instead, you can set performance goals based on departmental employee reviews and whether or not they can keep the department running at an established baseline.
Alternatively, you could instate a ‘no new policy’ rule for the first couple of months. This will give the newly promoted manager time to consider the consequences of major strategy shifts. At the same time, this type of rule allows newly promoted employees to forgo some of the burden of performance anxiety while they feel out the new position.
Getting Out In Front of Common Political Challenges
Another benefit to promoting from within is that you have a baseline of your new manager’s personality and character. Internal promotions can result in office politics which distract staff, reducing productivity and team morale. It is important to make sure the staff member you’ve promoted understands this and is prepared to handle all internal relationships positively. So make sure you address any character issues early, during their training period.
If your newly promoted manager is having trouble communicating with their team, remember to ask them to solicit feedback from their direct reports when directions are given, to always make sure their language is team and task focused, and to spread supervision evenly and fairly.
Delegation is Key
Your newly promoted manager may also have trouble handling their new workload, or may be leery of turning over their old duties to their new team. They could end up trapped by their position and their team could become underutilized. Productivity falls and your pool of potential internal promotions begins to shrink. Harvard Business Review gives us some simple pointers:
- Make sure your manager is requiring their direct reports to call them out if they feel they haven’t been delegated enough to.
- When your manager delegates, make sure they don’t micromanage that delegated task.
- Managers should record the results of the tasks they delegate, making sure the tasks are completed and the workload is even.
Prioritizing Makes Perfect
The ability to discern the importance of a given set of tasks is not always obvious. Help your new managers learn what is most important to their position, and don’t forget to explain why. This is key. A new manager, equipped with an entire list of tasks, should be able to assess urgency, value, and effort of a given set of responsibilities once you’re done with them.
Paint a Big Picture
Everyone’s first experience behind the curtain is exhilarating and jolting. If you are promoting a new manager, it is your pleasure and your duty to reveal this new, bigger world to your newly promoted leader, so make sure you give them the full tour.
Make sure they know what their assigned goals will achieve for the entire company. This gives them a place in the plan. Explain what success means for their team, whether it be a sales goal, a graduation rate, or a cost in goods produced reduction. Everyone benefits when the company wins.
No Development, No Management
The data for new management success is telling: 60% of new managers fail within 2 years while only 47% of new managers receive any training or leadership development. Even more surprising is that most new managers say they “guessed” their way into developing a management style.
While it seems that, across the board, companies are taking less responsibility for developing newly promoted managers, it’s not because in-house employees are already prepared to take on leadership positions. You may benefit by moving someone up who already knows the company’s culture and business model, but the unique set of challenges faced by newly promoted managers still deserves to be formally addressed.
If you’re in a unique position to help new managers succeed, try implementing a development strategy specifically for internal promotions, and always keep in mind that newly promoted managers need just as much help settling in as outside hires do.