Some employees are incredibly talented, work exceedingly hard and show outstanding loyalty to the company, but when they are placed in positions of authority, they flounder. Meanwhile, some workers put in minimal effort and seem disinterested in helping your company succeed, but when given a chance at management, they shine. What gives?
Unfortunately, what makes an excellent worker is much different from what makes an excellent manager. Thus, businesses that want strong management - which should include your business - should pay close attention to employees that exhibit the following behaviors. These attitudes and actions reveal true management material.
1. Having Impeccable People Skills
Management is more about people than it is about projects, so employees who demonstrate comfort working with and around people are more likely to excel as managers.
Strong communication skills are perhaps the most valuable in would-be managers, and because they are nearly impossible to teach, you should be on the lookout for any newcomers who display keen speaking and writing abilities.
Perhaps as important, you should watch for any employees who encourage and motivate their peers as these leadership skills are equally difficult to learn in formal settings. As much as possible, you should try to cultivate people skills in lower-level employees, but it is far more practical to pay attention to those employees who are inherently confident and capable of interfacing with others.
2. Looking for New Challenges
Many low-level employees are comfortable in their current positions, and they will remain comfortable for years to come. These types of employees complain about difficult work, try to pass new projects onto their peers and avoid any additional responsibilities, especially if those tasks will stretch different muscles than they are accustomed to using. These employees are not management material.
Excellent managers are always looking for new ways to challenge themselves. They come in early, stay late and constantly ask for more responsibility in their day-to-day work. You should encourage this behavior with training programs or educational benefits, or you can offer GMAT waivers for their MBA applications. The employees who take the bait - who gladly participate in professional development - are likely to be your future managers.
3. Handling Failures Appropriately
No one experiences infinite success; failure comes to everyone eventually. You shouldn’t want your lower-level employees to make mistakes, but when the inevitably do, you should pay attention to how they react. Employees who take responsibility for their failure, make effort to right their wrongs, learn from their errors and avoid similar slip-ups in the future are destined for promotion.
Because the stakes are higher in management, it is vital that you acquire managers who are less likely to make mistakes and more likely to act maturely when they do. A manager who refuses to take blame, who hides failures or isn’t willing to learn and change their behavior is a serious threat to your business. Thus, the way a person handles failure is one of the most telling indications of their performance in management.
4. Focusing on Whys and Whos
Most employees focus on the “whats” and “hows” of their job: what they need to accomplish today, how they are going to accomplish it, what the end product looks like, how they contribute to that product, etc. Unfortunately, this mindset is only beneficial to individuals.
Managers, who are responsible for entire teams of employees, must instead focus on the “whys” and “whos:” why do we need to accomplish these goals, who is best suited for these tasks, why does the business function this way, who is or isn’t engaged fully in the work, etc. Some lower-level employees already have a why/who emphasis, and these employees should be rewarded with management positions.
5. Solving Next-Tier Problems
A low-level employee solving any problem is noteworthy enough, but an employee who identifies and answers problems affecting more than themselves is worthy of promotion. You should admit that your business is far from perfect, but you might not have the time or experience to recognize what, exactly, is less than efficient within your organization.
Meanwhile, employees are more than capable of recognizing ongoing issues. Unfortunately, most employees are more than happy to merely complain about inefficiencies and problems. It is the few workers who jump at the opportunity to develop and implement solutions that need to be put in management ASAP.