Did I Promote The Wrong Person To Manager?

We often look at the ‘proven track record of success’ in past performance as being a great way to predict future success. I am a huge advocate of past behavior forecasting future behavior, and the process works great when we are hiring someone from another company to do very similar work in our company. However, if we are promoting someone into an elevated role, or from an individual contributor role to a people leader role, their past success is not the whole story. The components of hard-work, results orientation, and ethics in a past role certainly do apply going forward. Nonetheless, just because an individual contributor is great with clients, knowledgeable regarding both products and competition, and creates great results in that role, does not translate to their competencies to be great in a very different role. The biggest difference is that their past results were of self, and in a leader role their results are of others. This truly requires different skills to be successful, and it is not a simple assessment of past performance.

In recent research by Brandon Rigoni and Nelson Bailey at Gallup, they have concluded that 82% of the time we have hired the wrong person to be manager. They further discovered that there are five attributes that predict managerial success. Highly talented managers excel at:

  • motivating every employee to take action and engaging employees with a compelling mission and vision
  • exhibiting assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance
  • creating a culture of clear accountability
  • building relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and demand full transparency
  • making decisions based on productivity, not politics

In their article Leadership Mistake: Promoting on Tenure, Brandon and Bailey stated that organizations selecting these highly talented managers frequently realize:

·       48% greater profitability
·       22% greater productivity
·       17% greater employee engagement
·       5% greater customer engagement and
·       19% less turnover

So what should organizations do with their existing managers — many of whom may not possess naturally high managerial talent? Gallup has discovered some management practices that can help all managers increase engagement among their teams, regardless of their natural level of talent. These include:

Helping employees set work priorities and goals. By prioritizing with individuals specific goals, managers promote a culture of engagement and encourage employee performance. At least two-thirds of employees who strongly agree that their manager helps them set work priorities (66%) and performance goals (69%) are engaged in their work. By contrast, fewer than 1 in 10 employees who strongly disagree with these statements are engaged in their work.
Being open and approachable. More than half of employees who strongly agree that they feel they can talk with their manager about non-work-related issues (55%) and can approach their manager with any type of question (54%) are engaged at work, compared with fewer than 1 in 10 who strongly disagree with these statements are engaged in their work.
Focusing on employees’ strengths rather than on their weaknesses. Strengths-based development is a powerful engagement tool that any manager can incorporate into his or her leadership style. 67% of workers who strongly agree that their manager focuses on their strengths or positive characteristics are engaged at work, compared with 31% of workers who strongly agree that their manager focuses on their weaknesses or negative characteristics. Also, if you would like to drive only 2% engagement, simply ignore them. That will drive the lowest engagement of employees.

The opposite of Love is not Hate – it’s Indifference.” ~ Elie Wetzel


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