I had a conversation recently with someone frustrated with the performance of a newly promoted manager.
He was struggling to understand why, having been successful in a sales role, this person was now falling short of the demands of their promotion to sales team manager.
In my view, it’s unrealistic to expect people to hit the ground running in a new role, particularly if they’ve moved from being hands-on to overseeing other people doing that role – a different set of skills are needed.
But by leaving people to just get on with it, you risk a significant delay in their being able to do the job effectively – with all the negative impact that can have on team performance and morale.
Instead, by providing support and a proactive, structured development plan right from the start, you can reduce the time it takes a new manager to get up to speed.
It’s always better to anticipate a problem than deal with its consequences. So start planning for development needs before they impact on performance.
Here are five steps that should be carried out in preparation for the promoted employee taking on their new role:
- Have a discussion about what’s expected of them in the role
It’s an opportunity to clarify what’s expected of the employee in their new role – not just in terms of the task itself but also the behaviours you expect to see. Even if the person has been in the business a long time, it’s worth going back to basics a little – in the same way you might with a brand new employee – to establish the ground rules, if you like, for their new role. Don’t leave them to assume they know what a good manager looks like in your business.
- Share with them why you promoted them in the first place
It’s easy to feel out of your depth in a new role and it can be hugely demotivating when you’re not performing as well as you’re used to because you’re in unfamiliar territory. Help build their confidence by sharing the reasons why you selected them for promotion.
What was your decision-making process – how did they perform in the assessment, what skills and behaviours do they bring from their previous role that made them suitable for promotion etc?
- Start to identify their development needs
What areas will they need to develop as a manager? Do they need to learn people management skills or how to delegate properly?
- Focus on strengths as well as weaknesses
When talking about their development needs, don’t just focus on areas of weakness. Often in development conversations we hone in on the things we don’t do well but it’s just as important, if not more so, to recognise and plan the development of, one’s strengths too. In fact try and spend at least half your time and effort on making the most of what they’re good at and enjoy e.g. they might enjoy being more strategic about the team.
- Look at their development needs in a structured way
Often this sort of activity is done in a rather ad hoc, when you get the chance, sort of way. But this tends to mean nothing actually gets done. By bringing structure to development it means that:
- there’s clarity about what’s expected and what has to happen to achieve those expectations
- both manager and individual know the plan
- you’ve identified what support and resources are needed
- the individual owns their own development and is proactive
Use a personal development plan (PDP) to structure your conversation and development activity. Here’s a PDP template I have found to be really useful. Simply writing the plan down in this format can really make a difference to whether it actually happens. Use the PDP to help you to:
- Identify their development objectives – prioritise no more than three – those objectives that will really help to accelerate their performance, address the key development areas and stretch their strengths.
- Identify what activities need to happen to achieve those objectives – perhaps job shadowing or e-learning or a mentor or a coach.
- Identify what resources are needed – it might be funding for training or a coach, or someone already in the business who can help.
- Identify what measures you’ll use to evaluate their performance – what key performance indicators will effectively measure how well they’re doing? E.g. reduction in customer complaints, increased sales achieved by the team.
- Agree milestones and target dates – set deadlines to keep both of you focused on what needs to happen by when.
- Schedule in your review – plan to get together regularly to discuss progress, typically every 3 months. This should be in addition to your monthly catch-ups.
So, a PDP for a newly promoted sales manager might look a bit like this:
People don’t become successful managers overnight. By recognising in advance that there are likely to be areas of development and by putting in place a structured plan you will enable your newly promoted managers to develop the skills, behaviours and confidence they need to deliver what you expect of them.
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