How we set new managers up to fail

We’ve all been there. We get promoted to our first management role, not because we have shown proficiency in managing people, but because we are good at achieving targets, KPI’s, goals etc. We are technically proficient.

New managers are set up to fail because organisations are:

  1. not great at succession planning, and
  2. look for the wrong skills set when appointing new managers.

Let’s look at these areas.

Failures with succession planning

Organisations are generally too busy to take the time to look at succession planning.  They are reactive in this area. They wait until someone leaves, or shows any signs of disengagement, and then they spring into action!

People skills – being able to inspire, motivate, challenge, give and receive feedback, motivate, manage conflict situations, build relationships etc – are very different to managing processes. We all know this, so why do we keep getting it so very wrong? In my 20 years plus of working with teams and managers, I can say that the majority of organisations I have worked with fall into this trap. People who want to be seen as specialists in their field want to just concentrate on being a specialist. They don’t want to manage people, but feel obliged as it is an increase in salary and the next step up the ladder. But they don’t have the motivation to manage people. People get in the way of their true motivation. They feel they have to manage people, not want to manage them!

Looking for the wrong skill set

Why not recruit managers who have shown competence in people skills in the first instance? That should be the starting point. That should be the focus of the interview. Asking competency questions such as “Tell me about a time when you managed a team and blah blah blah…” Many managers I know are great at storytelling. This approach is looking to the past. Don’t we want to know what our people managers are going to do in the future? Use great coaching questions – “what risks are you willing to take to inspire your team?” or “On a scale of 1-10 how committed are you to being the best people manager you can be?” (If less than a 10, explore why it’s not a 10!)

Don’t settle for anything less than passionate people managers

Please don’t recruit people to manage teams unless they are passionate. They need to know it is a privilege to manage people. A huge amount of people leave their jobs because of poor line managers. But don’t blame the poor line managers if you have recruited a process manager to manage a team. The damage could already have been done…

written by: Cyrus Cooper, MD of Maximum Performance

Maximum Performance

Maximum Performance is a ‘boutique’ management training and development consultancy, and we regularly run Management Development Open Programmes in London and across the country with a unique bite-sized practical approach to managing yourself and those around you. Our popular one day workshop Management in a Day! Is running in London on 9 June 2016, we’re running a free information session on our programmes after the event.

Tel: +44 (0) 1582 714280

Email: [email protected]


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