Undeveloped Managers

According to the Harvard Business Review, one of the most important positions in business is a mid-level manager, someone who interacts with employees on a daily basis. This position is imperative to the health and profitability of an organization. Therefore, it seems odd to me that owners and VPs of different departments do not spend more time hiring, and then training this group of people.

Often times I see employees who are excelling at their current, non-managerial position get promoted to management level, when there are other employees who are great at what they do, but would be even better suited for leadership roles, and they are not the ones promoted. Promoting those who simply excel at their current role is not always a bad thing- with proper training and mentoring individuals can most certainly learn to be great managers. However, hectic schedules, daily demands, and people being asked to do more with less often keep the new manager from being trained properly, and he or she is expected to hit the ground running. All of which can be a recipe for disaster.

The above scenario plays out most often in the sales arena, but can certainly happen in other areas of business as well. It typically goes something like this: John is doing a great job hitting his sales goals and exceeds his quota each month, quarter, and year. As a result John gets promoted to sales manager, a position he has no experience in and no real desire to do, but the pay is better, so he figures “why not.” Months into his new position, John’s team is not on pace to hit their goals, and he feels unsatisfied and frustrated in his new role. As a result, he tries different tactics to get his team back on track. First, he goes out on sales calls to try and help, but he continuously finds the need to jump in and “save the sale.” He quickly becomes exhausted with this course of action because nothing is translating to the team and they are still missing the goal; sales are slowed even further and this strategy is taking all of his time. So he moves to plan B: pulling reps into his office to “give them a pep talk,” which amounts to nothing more than threats: “if you don’t hit your goal then ____.” The team finds this de-motivational and the results speak for themselves.

You see, John was a great salesperson, but he doesn’t have the knowledge or desire to be an equally good manager.

My recommendation is that when looking to promote or fill a managerial role, look for the employee who works hard and does a great job, but also has influence and potential to handle the “headaches” in your business. Managers and leaders should be great teachers, delegators and have the ability to handle stressful situations. The problem John had in the above example is that instead of teaching his salespeople how to close a deal, he simply jumped in and “saved the day” for them. In reality, all he did was close that one sale, and his salesperson didn’t learn anything, producing the same old results. Mid-level managers are some of the most important people on any team, and it is to the company’s benefit to choose those best suited to fill these roles and then to invest in them accordingly.

– Written by Aaron Getty