Extra Edition / Business Management

Invest in the Success of Newly Promoted Managers

July 23, 2007
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Many organizations promote non-management employees who perform well to management positions where other employees report to them. After their promotion, these new managers are responsible for performing some or all of the basic tasks of managers described in Table 1.

Experience shows, however, that these new managers quite often are not explicitly informed that they are now expected to perform these basic tasks. Nor is anything done to prepare these new managers to perform the basic tasks. Consequently, when faced with the necessity to perform any of the basic tasks of managers, newly promoted managers can draw upon only a few resources of their own:

• Do what they’ve observed of other managers (who may have been promoted under similar circumstances).

• Apply incomplete and inaccurate memory of what some author suggested in a book or article.

• Try something and see how well it works (trial and error).

Given their lack of preparation to perform the basic tasks of managers, newly promoted managers commonly perform some, but not all, of these tasks. And, those basic management tasks that are performed do not occur every time it is appropriate to use them and they are ineffectively executed.

The significant disadvantages of this situation include:

• The management practices used by a newly promoted manager will be the result of accidental circumstance, not the explicit choice of management practices that form an integrated system for sustaining high levels of job performance.

• Differences between managers in the management practices they use will result in some work units consistently performing below expectations and subordinates will criticize the differential treatment they receive.

Job performance that is managed in this way is unlikely to consistently meet senior management’s or customers’ expectations. When this happens, managers typically complain about their employees. Yet these managers have, inadvertently, created the very situation they complain about!

Worse, they'll blame their victims by saying the subordinates are "dumb," "lazy," "need remedial training," have a "bad attitude," or “should be fired.”

The sad truth, however, is that the real reasons for their subordinates’ unacceptable job performance are flaws in the manager’s performance of the basic tasks of managers listed in Table 1. The actions that managers take - or fail to take - are the primary reason that subordinates’ job performance is less than expected. Because of poor performance and non-performance of the basic tasks of managers, people are hired who should not have been hired and people who were hired because they could perform well (and who did so at first) do not perform as well as required.

Other consequences of poor performance and non-performance of the basic tasks of managers include frustrated subordinates, criticism of managers, and the resignation of valued employees.

Managers who consistently and effectively perform all the basic tasks of managers listed in Table 1 deal with far fewer cases of poor job performance than managers who inconsistently and ineffectively perform the basic management tasks. In effect, managers who consistently and effectively perform all the basic tasks of managers invest some of their time to achieve sustained high levels of job performance by their subordinates, whereas managers who inconsistently and ineffectively perform the basic management tasks spend their time reacting to performance problems.

To help your company, its customers, and your employees to benefit from sustained high levels of performance by all newly promoted managers, follow these steps:

1. Decide which of the basic tasks of managers listed in Table 1 are appropriate for your newly promoted managers.

2. Assess how well your recently promoted managers can perform the basic tasks of managers identified in Step 1.

3. Take appropriate action to improve how well your newly promoted managers perform the basic tasks of managers.

Publication date: 07/23/2007

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