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A Great Worker Does Not Necessarily Make a Great Manager

It’s an age old issue – a company promotes it’s top performer to the role of manager – and then the problems begin….

Not every high performing employee is suited to a management role.  It is often thought that the technical expert is the most suited for promotion however managing people is a very different responsibility to being a technical expert. In fact – some of the best managers, have no technical expertise!

So what goes wrong?

An employee with no training or experience in managing staff may find themselves out of their depth.  Remember, the were only yesterday responsible for their own performance and outcomes and today, they are responsible for their own and that of other employees – who were yesterday, their colleagues.

It is also unfortunate that employees promoted in this way, do not have the support of colleagues, often due to jealousy or other concerns.  Add that to a newly appointed manager finding their way and you will face all types of problems, including, losing your top performer.

Other concerns may be due to the newly appointed manager having difficulty in delegating work to previous colleagues who may not have performed at their level and they believe that it would be ‘easier’ to do it themselves.

A new manager struggling may naturally revert to previous behaviours that were successful whilst they were an employee, and colleague and this will often mean that they will try to maintain the same levels of friendships as before. As a result they will be undermined and find it difficult to ‘act the manager’ when required.

In most situations, a management vacancy is filled internally for reasons that may include:-

  • Urgency to fill the vacancy
  • Pressure to reward top performers
  • Financial savings to promote internally

Whilst best practice in any business is to succession plan and have your internal fills determined and working towards their readiness well in advance of any vacancy becoming available, this is not always possible.

Instead it is important to assess the suitability of a top performer for a management role and provide any relevant training and ongoing support to assist with their success.

Some measures may include:-

  • Undertake psychometric assessments to determine suitability, and evaluate preferred work and communication styles
  • Provide mentoring and coaching ongoing to ensure the employee has support with their responsibilities in managing people and other tasks new to their management role
  • Assist the new manager to seek out understanding from their former co-workers on how they preferred to be managed setting the boundaries very early to ensure a smoother transition for all involved.

For further assistance with succession planning or supporting your new managers, please contact us at or 1300 720 004.

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