So you have decided to invest in management capacity – a wise choice, may I say – and you are doing it by promoting a rising star in your business, giving them some degree of management responsibility.
That’s great, but beware – you and that star probably view the promotion entirely differently, and that could cause problems later, so make sure you get off on the right foot.
The rising star thinks “Great, at last – the promotion I deserve! Although I don’t understand why they didn’t give me more money. They really don’t understand just how hard I have been working. Still, I’m really pleased and now I have this promotion, I’ll see what I can do to help my team mates, who also deserve more money.”
The warning words here here are: “deserve”, “they”, “mates” and “more money”. The truth is that in even the very best run organisations, something of a “them” and “us” culture exists, and it’s not uncommon to encounter managers who don’t realise that, post promotion, are now playing for the “them” team.
Here’s how to get it right.
Promotions that bring management responsibilities are not rewards for past success. The fact is that by taking a good “operator” and giving them managerial tasks – something by definition they are new to – the business is taking something of a punt that it’s going to work out.
So I would explain to the individual, at the time the promotion is being discussed, that they have already been rewarded for their past good work (which you expect to continue) in previous pay and bonuses and they are now being given an entirely new opportunity, in which they have yet to prove themselves. And if they think being an “operator” is hard work, management is harder still. So they need to prepare themselves for a level of effort they have not hitherto had to put in.
The second part of the homily is to explain that their loyalty now is to the business overall. Not their old team (which they might still be running), their mates or anyone else. They have been elevated to a position on a bigger stage, with wider responsibilities and tougher decisions.
Part three is about explaining the business objectives of the firm, the KPI’s the business has achieved to date and the gap between where the firm is and where it should be. In my experience, rising stars usually have no idea about the actual financial state of the business, nor the size of the hill to be climbed to reach the firm’s stretching goals. You have to keep pulling them back to business fundamentals until they get used to the idea that superficial, hyperbolic opinions are not the same thing as hard numbers and cool business judgement.
You then have to explain how the business is managed, with meetings, agendas, data and the rest, so they have a framework they can understand and fit into.
Finally, I would resist the temptation to smooth the transition by giving away too many goodies – options, bonuses, etc – up front. I believe that these should be earned by proven success, not handed out before the managing has even begun.
And of course, they will need your help and support in getting to grips with their new role and there will be mistakes along the way. It’s all a part of growing up.
As always, there’s much to be done and time is slipping away, so good luck and get cracking.