Something that is often overlooked when we promote our employees into supervisory or management roles, is to provide them with adequate training to do the job; an orientation and onboarding process.
Because these employees have been with the company for a while (typically) we don’t think about the orientation and on-boarding they will need. Even though they may be familiar with the culture of the organization and understand the way things work for the most part, they may not understand the different expectations we will now have of them. Up to this point in time, the employee will have demonstrated technical strengths; however, they may not have the people management skills needed.
Leading people is one of the most difficult jobs there is – it is our people that will make or break our business – so let’s equip our new leaders with tools for success.
One of the most challenging part for new leaders promoted from within, is to break away from the group in terms of being their ‘buddy’. Once you cross that imaginary line, you are not a buddy anymore. It reminds me of an old “Friends” episode I watched in which one of the characters, Chandler Bing, moved into the boss’s role.
He noticed that he was no longer invited to certain functions by the gang – they were starting to do little imitations of him behind his back – they didn’t take any of his requests seriously. He hired his friend Phoebe to come and work for him and she told him he was ‘too nice’ and he had to stop trying to be their friend. I guess that’s where the expression – “It’s lonely at the top” – comes from. Remember, you can be friendly but you can’t be their friend anymore.
This is one of the reasons an orientation should be done for our internal personnel. In all likelihood, the technical aspects of the job will probably be different now as well. A leadership role has different responsibilities along with performance management, he or she may have to manage a budget now, determine training requirements, making production reports, etc.
The people management skills are essential – but we also need to help the new leader understand his or her duties in the new role – we need to him or her understand that micro-managing (due to familiarity with the technical aspects of the previous job) will not be accepted well amongst his or her team members.
Another thing to consider if an organization is promoting from within (which is certainly beneficial for employee retention) is to transfer them to another group of employees to supervise, if possible. It will help him or her make that break more easily. It will assist in establishing his or her position and allow him or her to grow the team together.
Orientations and on-boarding are often thought to be just for new employees but the purpose of them is to communicate expectations and provide opportunities to grow in the position.
The middle management leadership roles have the most impact on a day to day basis and require as much support as the company can give them. It further illustrates that your company is serious about putting their employees first – a statement many make but do not always live up to.
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