Aunty B: Should I make my star performer a manager?

Dear Aunty B,

Last year my business went through a growth spurt, which involved me hiring several new employees. Until now, all my employees have reported directly to me but as the business grows, I need some help managing the team so I can spend more time on other things, like expanding into new markets.

I want to hire a general manager to manage the team and they would report directly to me. The problem is I’m not sure whether to promote an existing team member into this new role, or to bring in someone completely new.

The employee I have in mind has been with me from the start and is one of the best performing members of the sales team. They have previously indicated that they would like to further their career. But how do I know if they are cut out for management? Should I be advertising for someone with general management experience instead?



Dear Sam,

I’m a big believer in promoting from within a company and it sounds like you’ve got an ideal situation to explore this before going through the potentially expensive process of recruiting for the role.

The team member you mentioned sounds like someone who believes in your company and is committed. They know your company’s culture and from what you’ve said, they have thrived in it. If I was looking for a manager, those are all qualities that would impress me.

What you now need to find out now is how they would approach being a manager and if this approach is in the best interests of the company.

As executive coach Anna Ranieri recently wrote for Harvard Business Review, what you’re looking for is how aware this person is about the nature of management.

For example, is this person able to delegate tasks to the people they are managing, instead of doing all the work themselves?

How well can they communicate with the team and not fall into the trap of micromanaging?

Try asking them about what think management is about and what they would do to lead a team like the one in your company.

You also want to find out if they can see the ‘big picture’. This means being able to look past the immediate job in front of them and think about the future of the company.

Ranieri suggests asking the worker these questions, as well as sounding out their co-workers too.

She suggests also thinking about what resources you can make available to this person if they do become your manager and I agree; if you can set this person up with the best possible chance of success, everyone wins.

Be Smart,

Aunty B


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Justin Tyme
Justin Tyme
5 years ago

Wow! That’s a complicated response to a simple question.
A simple rule for internal promotion. “Don’t promote to loose your star performer and gain a bad manager.”
Pay the star more, give the star authority to manage and perform in the same role. Allow the Star, to integrate into that role by slow expansion of the existing function and get the best of both worlds. To do so will be a real challenge to you as a manager or director.

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