One of my roles in human resources was for a company that fell under the retail sales sector. For those of you who have not worked in that category, it often comes with high turnover and the promotion of the top salespeople (often without regard to their interest in moving up the ladder or their skill set). A common challenge—at least in the organization I worked for—was a lack of qualified employees to fill those managerial roles and, historically, a failure to succeed for those managers we hired from outside the company. Unfortunately, this combination only served to create a vicious circle, with unqualified, in-over-their-heads managers serving to continue or increase the high turnover rate, causing multiple Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints, lawsuits, and other unpleasantries.
It has been reported (Tredway, 2017) that only 40 percent of new managers are successful. Regardless of education, selecting the person who can outsell, or another factor indicating success as an individual contributor, does not necessarily translate into the ability to manage. We do a disservice to those star performers if we move into a management role without the benefit of training.
In their book "The Leadership Pipeline," Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, and James Noel discuss the various competencies needed to move through the stages of becoming a leader at different levels of an organization. The first turn in the pipeline, so to speak, is when an employee moves from being an individual contributor responsible for managing only themselves to managing others. In their individual contributor role, the employee is primarily responsible for meeting predetermined deadlines, using professional and technical skills. They may be given “stretch” assignments that allow them to perhaps lead a project, but these do not necessarily allow them to develop the competencies needed to manage others.
Charan et al. describe several critical competencies associated with this crucial first passage. One is that the new manager must understand that their view of the organization must expand as they now represent the company. Another is developing the skills associated with delegation and motivation; in essence, getting things done through others. Add to that the complexity of dealing with differing personalities and drivers and setting priorities. It is easy to see why failing to prepare a new manager leads to their failure.
So, how can you set them up for success? Of course, training is vital—whether it be internal or external. Internal solutions include assigning a coach with strong management and people skills; another is ensuring their manager sets time aside weekly (or more often) for questions and clarification. External training often presents a space to learn from others, and courses that meet specific development needs can be provided. Of course, MRA has excellent leadership training. Our most robust is our Principles of Leadership Excellence Plus certification courses. For organizations who have identified their high potentials, our Frontline Leadership series is excellent for individuals who are being prepared for future leadership roles. You can find information on all our training topics on our catalog.