There are many incentives for filling a management spot from within the company, but this does not mean you can be lax with the selection process. On the contrary, as managers tend to be biased towards their employees’ strengths, it is even more important to have strictly defined guidelines and a rigorous evaluation.
Avoiding the Peter Principle
The most common mistake is assuming that a skilled employee would also make a great manager. While being able to do their job well is admirable, success in one area doesn’t always translate to success in another; a great engineer might suffer when promoted to a management position because of poor people skills. This is called the Peter Principle, and it is harmful to everyone involved.
When this happens, you waste a talented employee’s strengths, the new manager is miserable, and everyone working under him suffers from incompetent leadership. While management skills can be learned through providers like AITP, some qualities are simply non-negotiable.
Finding the right person
Other than technical skills, your employee needs to have the following characteristics to excel in a management role and deliver results.
- They are receptive to feedback. Instead of getting defensive, your employee must be willing or even eager to accept constructive criticism.
- They are solution focused – A good management candidate voices possible solutions rather than complaints when faced with a problem.
- They have initiative – You are looking for a leader, not someone that always has to ask you what to do.
- They know how to give credit – While your management candidate needs to have confidence in their skills, they are also expected to give credit where it is due.
- They further their knowledge – Your employee must be eager to address their weaknesses and refine their strengths through training.
- They genuinely want the company to succeed – There’s a big difference between an employee who religiously clocks out at 5, and one who is willing to go the extra mile to get the job done.
Rejecting an employee for promotion
You will inevitably have to reject some employees who ask for a promotion. They might feel that they deserve it due to their many years in the company, or they genuinely believe that their skills are well suited for a management role. Handling this situation tactfully is essential to preventing conflict and keeping them motivated.
Rather than a one or two sentence denial, let them know your reasons for rejecting their application in a constructive way. Introduce a plan for growth, and encourage them to continue aiming for a future promotion after working on their weaknesses.