Promoting the expert to manager: why this is not the best idea

Promoting the expert to manager: why this is not the best idea

23 February 2023
Gerrit Sarens
Gerrit Sarens
  • People are frequently promoted into people leadership roles based on their strong individual performance. Still, they often lack interpersonal skills and efficient management techniques to encourage and drive a team.

  • Have you ever experienced someone getting promoted to management only to struggle to lead their team effectively? It's a common pitfall that many organizations face. In fact, we've seen it happen firsthand many times.

  • Why it happens:

    1. Different skill sets: being an expert in a particular field doesn't automatically translate into being a great leader. The skills required to be an expert in a field are often very different from the skills needed to lead and manage a team effectively.
    2. The lure of the expertise: the expert is naturally drawn to the comfort zone of his/her subject
    3. Anxiety around the unfamiliar management space: our deep fear of the unknown halts personal growth
    4. Lack of training: many organizations make the mistake of assuming that because someone is an expert, they'll automatically know how to lead. But leadership is a skill that needs to be developed, just like any other skill.
    5. Lack of support: often, new managers are left to fend for themselves. They're given a title and some responsibilities, but they don't receive the support and guidance they need to succeed.
  • What should the expert who becomes a first-time leader expect from this new challenge? Let's break it down.

    • The role shifts from doing to leading. As an expert, the focus was on the own work and achieving individual goals. As a leader, the focus shifts to supporting and guiding the team to achieve collective goals
    • Leadership requires different skills: learn how to delegate tasks, provide feedback, and motivate and inspire the team
    • Communication with the team, other leaders, and stakeholders are essential: learn to listen actively, give and receive feedback, and adapt your communication style to different audiences.
    • Balance competing demands. A leader is pulled in different directions by competing priorities. Learn to prioritize effectively, make difficult decisions, and manage time and resources wisely.
    • Success depends on your team's success. A leader's job is to help the team succeed. Learn to give them the resources, support, and guidance they need to do their best work.
  • HR: how to avoid burning out the expert who became a manager

    1. First and foremost, thoroughly assess the leadership potential by using scientifically validated assessment tools
    2. Make a personal development plan that is precise and specific and includes clear accountability
    3. Offer training and development options to develop effective leadership skills.
    4. New managers need support and guidance to succeed. Pair them with a mentor or coach to help them navigate their new role
    5. Be clear about the expectations and responsibilities that come with a management position. Make sure new managers understand what's expected of them
    6. Regular communication is essential to keeping new managers on track. Schedule regular check-ins for feedback and support.
  • How a business mentor can help

    • Providing guidance: a business mentor works with both the new manager and the team they are leading to ensure a smooth transition. They can offer guidance on how to manage different personalities, navigate conflicts, and communicate effectively
    • Building leadership skills such as delegation, decision-making, and strategic thinking
    • Offering support: a business mentor provides emotional support, helps the new manager set realistic goals, and provides feedback and encouragement along the way to make the new management position less overwhelming and isolating.
  • In short, appointing an expert for management is tricky business. To avoid a negative impact on individual, team, and organizational performance, new managers should be helped concretely and structurally by providing training, guidance, support, and clear communication.

      • Manager types

      • Who are you?

    • Ambits offers business mentoring to different audiences. Our mentor community is equipped to help them with their specific leadership challenges. Discover below what Ambits can do for you.

    • Young professional

        • Young professional

          • Kicking-off your career
          • Eager to discover your strengths
          • Find your position in the organization to perform at your best
    • First time manager

        • First time manager

          • Taking up your first leadership role
          • Moving from an operational to a management position
          • Discovering the challenges of people management
    • Middle Manager

        • Middle Manager

          • Positioned between first-line and top management
          • Balancing between managing up and managing down
          • Leveraging the potential of people & teams
    • Top manager

    • Entrepreneur or founder

        • Entrepreneur or founder

          • Starting or scaling up your own company
          • Experiencing growing pains
          • Eager to develop solid leadership to move to the next level
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