The business is growing and the teams are expanding - great news! However, you realise that now is the time to appoint a new manager. The chosen candidate is obvious; it has to be the highest performing technical expert in the team. After all, if they are good at their day job, they will excel in the role. Right?
This is the first rule of recruitment. Your technical specialists are not necessarily your best people managers. The skill sets between people management, leadership and technical strength are fundamentally different, and quick-fix recruitment or promotion solutions without planning typically fail.
The result: your star technical performer is removed from delivery, often leaving a dip in service levels or burnout as they attempt to do both roles. In turn, the wider team grows frustrated by the lack of management direction and leadership capability, resulting in a lack of respect for the manager and an overall dip in team performance.
We are not suggesting that the team should remain static or development opportunities should be stifled. After all, you want to keep these high performing people.
The key here is to plan. As the saying goes “act in haste and repent at leisure”.
If you are looking to develop your technical specialist into a leader, a management development programme should be created to equip them with the necessary skills and tools to develop their supervisory and leadership capabilities.
We recommend placing people into a manager role on a trial basis. This way, if the individual performs and is happy, then it's great news. In addition to this, it gives the company and individual the chance to adjust expectations and future plans if needed.
Prior to undertaking this exercise, organisations should complete an ‘organisational capability review’. This means carefully identifying high performance individuals, their skills and their development needs.
Communication should be clear and open with these employees, as this is also a retention tool for star performers. In respect of succession planning, whilst creating development plans for these individuals, you also need to consider the ‘strength of the bench’.
Consider what you can be doing as a company to develop and enhance the skills of more junior team members. Develop them as successors, so when the time is right to promote people, you have a strong bench ready and excited to step up.
The future is in their hands
The above takes time and careful planning. Therefore, if succession and development planning is not carefully thought out, planned and in place, then hiring-in a proven capable person may be the best solution for the business. After all, new hires bring fresh ideas, new perspectives and the energy you might be looking for.
Experience across many sectors tells us that all too often, there is a rush to get someone into a managerial role. Staff are asked to do their best, with veiled promises made to train and develop them. However, operational priorities can take over, time passes by, and all too often the new manager - who was once very excited - is struggling to deliver. Does that sound familiar?
We've worked with a number of organisations on coaching and developing technical teams, and supporting with organisational capability reviews and succession planning. Get in touch if you would like to know more.