Why Promotion Breeds Incompetence in Managers

Why Promotion Breeds Incompetence in Managers

Your best employees are not necessarily going to make the best managers, at least not without some form of training.

That’s something many business owners don’t necessarily realise.

A high flying salesperson, for example, might not be as good with organising staff as they are at selling your product.

Incompetence is often rife in businesses because they tend to favour promotion from within.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this (in fact, it can be a good thing) it can lead to problems when you end up with a manager who is not blessed with the tools, skills and knowledge to succeed.

Recent research by the CMI found that around 80% of new managers are recruited because they have performed well in a technical role.

In other words, they’re not experienced at being managers at all.

Managing People is a Skill, Not an Add-On

Part of the problem is that many businesses don’t look at people management as a set skill that you must learn and develop.

Just because you’re good at one thing, doesn’t mean you can provide the support and guidance that a team needs.

Yes, there are some who are natural leaders but even they need some form of development and training to get it spot on.

To be an effective manager, there are a wide range of different skills you need to develop:

  • You have to be able to delegate for a start. This is easy for some people but not so much for others. If you’ve been used to ‘getting the job done’ yourself in your previous role, it can be hard to hand over the reins to someone else.
  • You have to set goals and organise your team so that you get the most out of them.
  • You also need to motivate them through those difficult moments when things aren’t quite going right.
  • You have to be a good communicator, able to engage one individual to meet their needs as well as engage with the whole team.
  • You need to solve problems for other people on a daily basis and organise your own time to take in additional activities such as attending management meetings.

All this is by no means easy which makes it surprising why training for managers is often neglected by businesses.

If you want to avoid incompetence at management level these are all skills that should be learned, refined, nurtured once you’ve spotted and promoted the top talent.

The Training Your Managers Need

Large corporations will often have a whole list of different courses for managers and leaders as well as providing access to a personal mentor.

For smaller companies, this is not always 100% achievable but every effort should be made to create a formal skills building process that drives competence and better management at its heart.

The majority of employees look to their employer to deliver some form of training and starting management courses early on can ensure that, when top performing technical staff are promoted, they at least have some of the skills and knowledge they require.

Most people will applaud a business that looks to promote their staff from within.

Throwing these individuals into management and leadership roles without prior training and preparation, however, can be a dangerous move.

All too often you can end up incompetent managers who are ill-equipped to cope with the rigours and strains of running a successful team.


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