Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The problem with promoting your best people

I recently appeared on the Sales Roundup Podcast discussing the problems and challenges of promoting top sales people to the role of sales manager - a problem that is magnified with a failure rate as high as 50%. This problem is not restricted solely for promoting the best sales people but can be extended to a wide range of expert doers from I.T. to finance and just about any specialist or professional discipline.

The major challenge faced by expert doers being promoted to management or leadership roles is making the transition from doing the job themselves to getting it done through others - often, people who are not (yet) as good as doing the job as they were. This presents significant issues around delegating to others, training or coaching others, making performance interventions, helping others to solve their own problems, trusting and empowering the team, motivating others. In short, it is a steep learning curve and one that all first-time managers have to go through.

But, here's the kicker...

Many expert doers don't really want to be managers but rather, it is the only career path available to them if they want to be promoted.

On the one hand, companies need to consider creating expert career paths that do not include managing others, enabling expert doers to progress and add value in other ways. On the other hand, when promoting expert doers to management roles, companies need to invest time and resources in training and supporting them through the transition. The key learning areas are likely to be:

- How to manage and motivate others.
- How to move from self-centred behaviour to team-centred behaviour.
- How to create an environment where results are delivered by others.
- How to help others learn and solve their own problems.
- How to let go of the doing.

This training should be at the point they need it - either just before or at the time of making the transition to management. Ongoing support or coaching should be provided through the first year or two in a management role. And if it doesn't work out, a route back to being an expert doer should be made available.

Simon Cooper heads up ELC Training Solutions and is the author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader.

No comments:

Post a Comment