“He was great in the field but he’s a lousy manager” is a common complaint among owners of service companies. Most companies start small with the owner wearing many different hats and managing every aspect of the business. As the company grows, however, it reaches a point where the owner can no longer manage everything effectively. To grow past this point means an additional layer of management must be put in place. But where do owners find these managers? Where are the people they can trust to relieve them of some of their tasks so they can move the business forward?

When looking for a manager the natural tendency is to consider the existing employees. It’s common to promote the best producer to a management position as a reward. It makes sense. After all, if they were the best producer, they should be able to show the rest of the team how to produce more, right? Wrong! In most cases the characteristics that make them great producers make them poor managers. Additionally, taking your best producer out of the field will have a negative impact on your profits. Some owners try to get around this by having the new manager spend part of their time managing and the rest of their time in the field. Dividing their time like this rarely works with one function taking precedence over the other and neither being done as they should be.

So what’s an owner to do? Here are some guidelines that will help you pick the best manager from within:

1. Write a detailed job description. Simply saying “manage the department” will not cut it. You must be specific in what needs to be done and what they are responsible for. This will take some time and thought; do not rush through it.

2. Create a list of characteristics that the perfect manager would have. This is not a silly exercise. Consider this: one characteristic might be “well organized.” Picking an employee who can’t find anything on their truck will probably not end well.

3. Go through each of your employees and see how they stack up against the list of characteristics. Try to think of specific instances where the characteristic applies.

4. Interview the two employees who exhibit the most desirable characteristics. Pick the employee who has the best chance of success.