Preparing a Great Employee to Become a First-Time Manager

Truly outstanding employees are the best asset a company can have. Every organization wants talented people who successfully accomplish their job responsibilities. But employees who support their colleagues, are a positive presence in the workplace, and go above and beyond are invaluable to a company’s success.

These are the employees you want to stay with your company for a long time. However, you shouldn’t be surprised to find out that these type of people are ambitious and eventually want to move onto bigger and better things. If your company doesn’t take care of them, there’s a good chance they’ll leave for another opportunity when they feel like they’ve paid their dues.

In fact, 63 percent of Millennials believe their leadership skills are not being fully developed and only 7 percent of employers report having leadership training programs, according to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report.

Promoting from within sounds good in theory but requires preparation from both the company and future manager. In this article, we’ll provide advice on how to prepare a great employee to become a great leader.

The advantages of hiring internally

While hiring an experienced external candidate for a management position might seem like a smart move, there are plenty of good reasons to promote a current employee instead:

  • They understand how the company and their team operates. They won’t require much, if any, onboarding.
  • They already have a rapport with the people they’ll manage. Their promotion might even motivate others to work harder.
  • The hiring process is long, complicated, and costly. Why drain company resources when you already have a suitable candidate on staff?
  • New hires don’t always work out. Someone who is the wrong fit can hurt productivity and morale.

The key is to always have an eye toward the future. Find successful employees who will make great managers and help them acquire the skills and knowledge needed to advance their career with your company.

Create a succession plan

The first step is to form a long-term succession plan. Go through the process of outlining the current employees who will take over leadership roles in the event the positions become available.

Creating a succession plan is a great way to take stock of the people on your staff. It gives your company the opportunity to not only spot the talented people who are doing outstanding work. It also gives you the opportunity to look at who has the additional skills required to be an effective leader and is already making the effort to expand their professional skills in their own time.

Once you identify potential future leaders, you can meet with them to discuss their long-term career goals. If they do aspire to one day become a manager or executive, you can let them know they’ll have that opportunity with your organization if they continue to excel.

Encourage job shadowing

After the succession plan is formed, it’s a good idea for the future manager to follow the current manager throughout the workday. It doesn’t need to occur all the time but setting aside a day every few months for job shadowing gives the junior employee the opportunity to walk in their boss’s shoes. Try to include a mix of regular days and days with important meetings or project milestones so the junior employee gets the full spectrum of what’s involved in their future position.

Shadowing allows the junior employee to learn all the nuances involved in the job. They’re likely already aware of the major responsibilities they’ll eventually have but discovering the small challenges they’ll face prepares them to hit the ground running when the time comes.

Develop a mentorship program

Since your company’s current managers have already climbed the professional ladder, they can impart valuable knowledge on the next generation of leaders. Mentors can not only teach junior employees what their job entails. They can also share the lessons they learned throughout their career and the challenges they had to overcome to get where they are.

The simplest way to create a mentorship program is to encourage managers to share advice with their direct reports. You can also go a step further and pair a junior employee with a senior leader. The two can get together on a regular basis so the mentee can share their career goals and the mentor can tell them what they’ll need to do to accomplish them.

Providing a training program or education benefits

Regardless of whether or not your company plans to promote a certain employee, you should want everyone on your staff to have the skills to deliver optimal work. Offering an internal training program or tuition reimbursement for continuing education prepares employees for job success and to do more if the opportunity presents itself.

You can also identify potential managers by seeing who takes advantage of the skill development programs. Employees who excel at their jobs and make the effort to set themselves up for career success should be rewarded for their performance and ambition.

Get the most out of your best people

You never want to see a valuable employee leave because another company was smart enough to give them the job they deserve. Help your great employees prepare for career advancement so they can one day become great leaders for your company.