Do the best producers make the best managers? Almost unanimously, when leaders are asked this question, the answer is “no.” Yet too often leaders look for candidates among their best producers and select the best worker for the manager job. They assume that because an individual was successful in their contributor role, that individual will be successful in management, too.
Of course, many great producers can and do become great managers, but this is not always the case. Too often, when a superstar gets promoted to manager, one or more of the following happens:
- They can’t let go of their old role. They take charge of details, undermining direct reports’ motivation and confidence and weakening their respect.
- They manage by results only and expect everyone to produce the same results that they got, but are not good at coaching and giving people constructive feedback on how to get there.
- They avoid administrative responsibilities and become frustrated by the many routine but important tasks that management requires.
Eventually, the direct reports stop learning and growing. They become disenchanted, disengage from their work, and may even leave the company.
Before promoting the superstar, leaders should treat them like any external managerial candidate and put them through a rigorous selection process (make sure they are comfortable with the manager job accountabilities, assess their leadership skills, and seek references from others who have seen them lead). Superstar individual contributors are often happier and better serve the organization doing what they are doing.
Empowered leaders thoroughly vet a superstar before promoting them and are more successful.