What Makes A Good Manager? 7 Things To Ask Before You Promote

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Jan 30, 2015
This article is part of a series called Classic TLNT.

Editor’s Note: Readers frequently ask about past TLNT articles, so every Friday we republish a Classic TLNT post.

It’s important to motivate and reward your best people, but is promotion really the right call?

In the medical sales field and across a number of industries, employees who perform well are often promoted to manager. The idea is to recognize your best people and foster internal talent.

This makes sense, since a recent Gallup poll discovered that 70 percent of employees aren’t actively engaged in their roles. Companies with employee engagement routinely enjoy at least 22 percent greater productivity and up to 65 percent lower turnover.

Not everyone is management material

Promoting your best people into management roles seems like a quick fix to show employees you recognize their hard work. Unfortunately, many companies find out the hard way that not every great employee is management material.

Managing people, keeping teams on target, and staying organized requires a specific skill set. Just because an employee has great technical talents or is a medical sales superstar doesn’t automatically translate into management ability. Some employees will be up to the challenge, while other workers will flounder on the job and tank productivity in the process.

Before promoting your best people, here are seven (7) questions you should ask yourself:

1. Is your employee aligned with company goals?

As a manager, your top talent will be representing your company in a more visible way. They’ll be interpreting company goals for a team and ensuring organizational objectives cascade properly.

This is why it’s important the employee in question is strategically aligned with company goals and culture. If your company culture says, “The customer is always right,” then managers should embody this mission statement.

2. Does your employee have good people skills?

An employee might impress you with their tech wizardry, marketing know-how, or medical sales abilities, but this doesn’t always translate into management potential.

Good managers need to guide workflow, train team members, clearly communicate goals, and keep everyone on track. They have to be organized and ready to negotiate problems.

Without top-notch people skills, the employees being managed are likely to feel rudderless and unrecognized, which is bad news for your company culture.

3. Can they see the big picture?

As a worker bee, you know this top employee can implement on strategic tasks. Just because an employee excels at the day-to-day work of an organization, however, doesn’t mean they’ll be great with big picture initiatives.

As a manager, the employee will need to rise to the occasion and help the whole team see how their work fits into company objectives. It’ll be their job to communicate big picture ideas and keep workers from missing the forest for the trees.

4. Can they listen?

Communication is important, but listening is essential.

Managers need to listen up and down the organizational chart so they can clearly communicate workflow to their team. They need to not only listen to what is being said, but understand what is unsaid among the employees they manage. They need to listen to problems, address concerns, and stop small issues from snowballing into huge challenges.

If a manager is more focused on their work than their workers, this could spell bad news in a management setting.

5. Can they help your company grow?

Your managers need to be creative thinkers and problem solvers, and not only when it comes to their direct workflow. Before you promote an employee, imagine what concrete value the employee can bring to your organization.

Have they thought up new ways to face old challenges? Have they brought new business or helped your company streamline processes? Creative thinkers are great at moving your company forward and can help you pivot a team of employees in a more productive direction.

6. Can they motivate a team?

“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose,” was the motivating phrase football Coach Eric Taylor used on the television show Friday Night Lights. Your manager might not have to psych up a team to win a big game, but they do need to know what employees need to stay motivated.

With engagement low across industries, managers need to understand what makes their employees tick and how to get them excited about projects. High engagement means high productivity, so only promote managers with the ability to lead and inspire.

7. Do they really want to manage?

This is the most important question, but it’s so obvious many companies can completely skip it. Not every superstar employee wants to become a manager.

Your top-notch sales rep might have become invaluable because they really love the work they’re doing. You want to reward them by giving them a manager position, but what you’re really doing is taking them away from the work at which they excel.

If the candidate doesn’t seem motivated to manage, find another way to recognize and reward their hard work and find someone more suited to the management lifestyle.

Bad management can truly hurt your company, kill employee morale, and bring down your bottom line. Before promoting someone to a management position, ask yourself these seven questions in order to ensure you’re making the right decision.

What do you think? What questions do you ask yourself before promoting?

This article is part of a series called Classic TLNT.
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