Why You Need to Stop Hiring High-Performers for Management Roles

Why You Need To Stop Hiring High Performers For Management Roles pushing manager up

It’s the circle of life: you start at the bottom, work hard, and make your way up the ranks, eventually snagging a management role. This may seem like the natural order of career progression, but is management always the right next step for star employees?

High-performing employees aren’t always management material, because being good (or even outstanding) at your role doesn’t automatically make you an effective people-manager. Here’s why you need to stop handing top-performers management roles, and leave them for managers with the skills required to build teams and manage people.

Technical Skills and Management Skills are Unrelated

High-performers have the technical skills and experience needed to excel in their current role, and that’s what makes them so good at what they do. But technical skills and a strong understanding of the ins and outs of a business aren’t enough to successfully lead a team. Potential managers should be hired based on their management and people skills, not their technical abilities.

Even star employees who innately possess some characteristics of a leader will have gaps in their management abilities, because being a natural-born leader isn’t enough to effectively manage a team in the workplace. Many of the most crucial qualities of a good manager must be learned through training and development. Some of these qualities might include:

  • Empathy and understanding

  • Self-awareness

  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills

  • Innovation

  • Strategic thinking

  • Decisiveness

  • Honesty and transparency

  • Authenticity and trustworthiness

So when Bill in data analytics impresses you with his software skills and outstanding performance, don’t just assume he’s capable of leading a team to deliver the same quality of work.

Promoting your Best Employee has Disadvantages

Your company is benefiting by having people that are good at the role, actually working in the role, right? Why not keep them in their area of expertise so they can continue to excel, and hire or promote people who have the required people-management skills into management positions?

Broadspring Consulting explores the disadvantages of promoting your best employee, discussing how an automatic promotion can negatively impact both the employee and your business. They argue that by being moved up from a role where they achieve well into a position they don’t have the required attributes to perform well in, the employee’s performance drops and the company suffers. They may be able to keep things afloat temporarily, but without the right skills for the job, their team may grow frustrated and consider looking elsewhere.

If Not Up, Where?

When an employee is performing well and delivering great results in their role, it’s pretty natural for an employer to want to reward them. Promoting a high-performer to a management position can cause more harm than good, but you want to give your top-performers incentive to stay, right? Well, there are other ways to acknowledge your best staff and keep them on board.

Aside from granting pay rises and additional responsibilities, you might like to consider altering the structure of your organisation to be more horizontal than vertical.

Horizontal or flat business organisations reject the vertical chain of command or hierarchy in order to increase communication and share some of the power. By implementing a horizontal team structure, your top employees are more involved in the problem-solving and decision-making processes, and feel more valued, increasing their productivity and boosting their morale.

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it; let technical experts do their thing, and leave the management roles for trained leaders.

Learn more about what makes an effective leader.

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