If you are promoting team members based on current experience and success you could be setting them up for failure. A first line supervisor who performs very well is not destined to be a great middle manager.
Unfortunately, many times we think that there is one set of skills that pertain to leadership. The most common mistake is taking an individual performer and promoting that person to supervisor without any training at all. The newly promoted supervisor still sees the jobs of the people he or she is supervising through his or her own individual performer lens. What is needed is an understanding of motivation, leadership and interpersonal skills in addition to knowledge of the job.
But it does not stop there. All leadership roles are not the same at all levels. Managing other managers is different from managing individual performers.
According to Lawrence Peter, author of the Peter Principle, companies make a flawed assumption that because a person is good at management role, the person will continue to be good in any management role. Inevitably, according to the Peter Principle, the person ends up being promoted to a job where they are no longer competent. This is referred to as their "level of incompetence". The employee has no chance of further promotion, thus reaching his or her career's ceiling in an organization.
We can see examples of The Peter Principle in many of our businesses. Let’s use an example. John is a very highly performing salesperson. He meets and exceeds sales quotas. He is always winning the top sales awards. Because of this he is promoted to sales manager. Here are two questions.
Nothing is wrong with promoting John. In fact, we would encourage it. However, if you do nothing more to assist John then you are setting him up for failure. The skills that John used to perform as a salesperson are different than those needed in his new role as manager.
This skill curve below illustrates this point.
As we can see here, in order to be effective as an individual performer you must utilize about 90% technical expertise with only 10% people skills.
However, at the next level in the organizational structure, the supervisory level, the curve makes its most dramatic shift, and the necessary knowledge and skills you now need to be effective on the job is about half and half. You still need a great deal of job knowledge—to train, to substitute, etc.; but, now your Number 1 responsibility is developing other people—to develop other high performing workers, to teach, to lead, and to manage.
Then, as you can see from the shift in the upper levels, the higher you go in the corporate ladder, the less you need technical skills, and the more you need good, effective management and human relations skills. At the management levels, more behavioral and management skills are required for your success.
Are you promoting and hoping for success? What do you need to do differently?
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