Leadership Blog

Mate to Manager

Thursday, November 10, 2016 | Category :
    • Leadership
    • Avo Vision

Promoting from within. Nearly every organisation we work with has a strong policy regarding the advancement of internal staff. It really does make sense. You take people who already fit seamlessly into the organisational culture and move them up the ranks. They are aware of the informal communications systems, they know what the business does as well as what the organisational objectives are all about, and they’re probably already on the birthday cake roster, so really it makes it easier all round.

In addition, as an organisation it’s often easy to identify the performers. The ones you always trust to get the job done, whether it’s the sales guy who consistently exceeds target, or the service manager that doesn’t leave her desk until all her clients are in a state of terminal delight. They stand out, the achievers. So inevitably they get promoted into management positions, (whether this is the correct course of action to take is a topic for another discussion). But once an employee has worked among a team it’s an inevitable fact that there are challenges associated with then moving into a position of perceived power and having to actually manage those they used to work alongside.

As an organisational leader, it’s your responsibility to equip your team leaders and managers with every tool in the shed, to ensure that they are able to deal with the softer side of going from a mate to a manager.

Respectfully yours
The promotion of your key individual to a management position may come as a surprise to some in the organisation. They may have been other individuals who threw their hats in the ring, or others on the management level who had a stake in the role, and so as not to set your shiny new manager up for failure, it’s really important that you announce the promotion to all stakeholders, and then to the wider organisation. No-one likes to be blind-sided and it shows a level of respect to stakeholders as well as the new manager if the organisation handles the promotion with sensitivity. That’s not to say the organisation shouldn’t be clear in their reasons for choosing the individual, they need to show why they are so confident in this individuals business prowess.

Judging Jenny
Don’t expect the newly promoted individual to view all the employees in their team the way you and the rest of the management team do. You have had time to formulate your opinions of each team member based on their work and your interactions, but their view of the team is an inside one. Allow them time to reach their own conclusions. They may see a side to an employee that you have yet to explore, or they may bring out something different in the team members. Don’t let your own perceptions skew their opinions.

Major Mentor
We know that children learn through modelled behaviour, but there is substantial research to suggest that adults do as well. In addition, research has shown that the informal access to learning and higher levels of leadership in an organisation is often only achieved for those traditionally locked out of this level (women and previously disadvantaged individuals) through facilitation by a mentor. Allocating a mentor, preferably one who has made the leap out of the trenches and into the fancy captain’s tent herself, will allow the employee a resource who can empathise and offer possible solutions to obstacles that may arise. These will vary from issues with their previous colleagues to how to conduct themselves at the EXCO table and what learning paths to follow.

Good boundaries make great friends
One of the most confusing aspects of a new role can be finding one’s boundaries. This can lead to either over-stepping authority or not exerting enough. It is imperative that you clearly define where the boundaries lie for the newly promoted manager. This includes items like budgets for team buildings, disciplinary procedures and training for staff.

Great Expectations
As the employee has been promoted, your previous expectations of him/ her have also changed to reflect their new position. It’s helpful for a newly promoted employee to completely understand what is expected of them. This will, in turn, allow them to formulate their expectations of the team that now falls under them. Clear objectives remove confusion and allow the new manager to begin building their strategies for achieving goals.

Get them help!
If your HR team is equipped to offer them training on making this immense change then make sure that a training programme is in place from the day they start. If your HR team is not able to offer this training, then ensure that you engage the services of a reputable training company who specialises in EQ and can personalise the training to suit the individual as well as the organisational objectives. Also, look online for a myriad of resources that can at least give them some ABCs of moving from mate to manager – making that first official leadership ‘turn’ in their career.

Promotion of great employees should be a celebration but there is a careful road to walk for the organisation as well as the individual when they will be managing a team of previous colleagues. A mark of a great leader though is their ability to walk the tricky road and inspire their teams to walk with them instead of behind them.


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