When we consider the importance of leadership, it is surprising that many organizations take a haphazard approach when selecting and developing new managers. In the last 30 years management development has changed very little. Unfortunately, the same model is often repeated when employees are promoted to supervisory and management positions for the first time: an organization finds a young person with some identifiable administrative ability, likely their “best employee”, and on a Friday afternoon a supervisor tells that person to dress up a bit on Monday because they have been promoted to a managerial position. From that point forward, the success of the new manager is more determined by luck and tenacity than by planned and deliberate development and action. In addition to promoting someone who may be ill-prepared to start leading people you have also lost your best employee. I always tell this story at the beginning of my presentations and development sessions to loosen people up. I started to realize early on that this story is all too common for many of the supervisors and managers I have taught over the years. Although some larger organizations have excellent management training programs, they remain the exception rather than the norm. Most organizations do not have the resources to chart a leader’s course when hiring or promoting people into their first managerial role. So, what does this mean to you the new manager, well in reality what it means is that you will have to start to take greater ownership in your own development and the shared development of your staff. It is too dangerous in today’s market to simply wait around to be tapped on the shoulder for your next promotion. As an old HR colleague told me one time “You are the CEO of your career and if you don’t take charge of it why would anyone else”.
This is an excerpt from Grant Armstrong’s new book due out in the winter of 2015. Leaving the Shoreline: A Handbook for New Managers.