Is Management What Your High Potential Employees Really Want?

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Fast Company posted a thought provoking article about the Five Questions You Should Ask Before Accepting a Management Position.  If you are a senior leader responsible for developing emerging leaders, these are actually questions you should be using to talk with future managers about the move from an independent contributor role to a Manager.Part of a senior leader’s role is to help employees with their career direction.  One of the topics you don’t want to leave off the table or treat too superficially is about their future aspirations for moving into management.

Management may be the natural progression for some people based on their desire to want to expand their influence and be responsible for more business results.  But management is not for everyone, and there are some big shifts in competencies, beliefs and activities that accompany the move into management that still too few first time managers are supported to learn, let alone be aware of before they take the leap.  This may seem like common sense, but unfortunately, I have worked with a large number of clients over the years who have inherited direct reports who are reluctant Managers who end up underperforming and are miserable.


With more companies finding the strength of their senior leadership bench thinning out and more millennials in the workplace, companies are looking to their next generation, high potential talent to lead them, often with less experience than their predecessors had.  This is why being a development-oriented boss is even more critical than ever as you build your succession plans and mentoring your future leaders can make a huge difference.


Remember your first leadership role and the reasons you decided to make the move into management?  It’s likely you experienced some highs and lows and lessons learned the hard way about what you imagined it would be and what it really was.  This is great material to share with future managers in a mentoring conversation and help them think realistically what they may encounter.


Before you promote a future leader, be sure you have had thorough discussions with them about what to expect a management role will require of them differently from supervision, project management, or independent contributing.  It’s hard to know what something entails until you have actually done it.  Paint as vivid a picture of the typical day, common challenges and character qualities that you believe it will take for them to be effective managers.


It is likely your emerging leader/high potential employee has yet to learn some leadership and management skills they will need when they become a Manager.  For example, moving from more day to day and tactical focus to strategic, and long term focuses.  It can make a big difference to their future success by helping them understand where their competency and challenge and support them to begin to develop those areas now.

You can find a wide range of resources to help mentor your emerging leaders identify and tackle the big shifts facing them as they become a leader on my blog and our ebooks:

 Have you had success with high potential employees and mentorship? Tell us about it below!

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