Is Your Employee Really Ready to Be a Manager?


It's one of the hardest transitions you ever deal with in the workplace, and how well you handle it can make a huge difference on your employee base.

You probably know what it is: Helping an employee move into a new (and perhaps entirely different) role as a successful manager.

And, you also probably know this: Many employees who attempt the transition are unable to successfully navigate such a huge change, and in many cases, means they end up leaving the company.

What to consider when making a managerial promotion

Nobody wants that to happen, of course, but it's something that is always a possibility when making a change. Many employees who are great individual performers are simply unable to get out of that mindset and into one of a manager who is responsible for getting a group of people to pull together and perform as a successful team.

A great article in the Harvard Business Review, titled Is Your Employee Ready to Be a Manager?, dug into this issue and gave some smart advice to anyone contemplating such a dramatic change:

As a manager, you’re always on the lookout for the next generation of talent in your organization. But trying to figure out whether a particular direct report is management material is not always straightforward, says Anna Ranieri, executive coach and author of the forthcoming Connecting the Dots: Telling the Story to Advance Your Career.

“It requires different skills to manage than to be an individual contributor,” she says. “And since you want your decision to promote to be the right one, you wonder, ‘How do I make a sure enough bet?’”

The good news is that, “people can develop their capacity to lead,” says Linda Hill, professor at Harvard Business School and the coauthor of Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader. “What you’re looking for is behavioral evidence that this person has the potential and talents to manage.” If you’re successful in the evaluation stage, you’ll be in a better position to “anticipate the person’s weaknesses so you can help onboard him into a management role when the time comes.”

Successful leader

Some important things to remember

The best part of this article was the do's and don'ts that you should be thinking about when it comes to the basic principles for promoting an employee into a managerial role. These are short and sweet, but really good things to consider:


  • Ask the candidate what he or she thinks management entails, and, how they would manage a team.
  • Try to evaluate a candidate’s people skills, including empathy and self-knowledge.
  • Get a sense of the candidate’s grasp of the organization by asking her how they view its culture, needs, and direction.


  • Overlook a candidate’s management experiences outside of work -- things like leading an athletic team or a squad of volunteers provides solid leadership practice.
  • Ignore red flags. If a person isn’t curious or doesn’t work well with others, reconsider his or her candidacy.
  • Forget that someone earlier in your career showed faith in you. If you believe the candidate has the potential and talent to lead, help her develop.

This is all great advice, and the do's and don'ts are about as clear and straightforward as you can be. Remember, developing new managers is the job of every current manager.

Finding and developing new managers must be part of your ongoing agenda, because as a manager, you are best equipped to make it happen. Now, go out and there and take the time to get it done.