Editor’s note: This week, guest blogger Patrick DiDomenico gives some tips on preparing your best employees to be managers themselves one day.
As a manager, you’re focused on making sure your employees stay productive and on task. And that’s as it should be.
But production isn’t a manager’s only responsibility. For the benefit of the organization, and also of your subordinates, you should be helping them strengthen the skills they’ll need to become managers themselves in the future.
Here are five techniques that may help:
1. Get personal
These days fast, convenient methods of communication such as e-mail and even texting often take the place of quality face time. But if you really want to know how your employees feel about the organization and their future in it, you need to sit down with them and have actual conversations.
Things you can’t pick up via e-mail, like body language, facial expressions and tone of voice, will tell you as much — or more — about an employee’s state of mind as his or her words.
When you learn what employees want to get out of their jobs, it will help you determine who’s ready to become a manager in the near future, who still needs some guidance, and who lacks managerial potential.
2. Set an example
The best way to show your employees how to manage is not by sending them off to a conference — it’s by being a good manager yourself.
This begins with your attitude. Stay positive about your organization and your team’s role in its success. Encourage your employees to do their best work. When the members of your team want to be like you, not only will they produce better results, they’ll also emulate your techniques when they are put in a position of greater authority.
3. Plan their development
It’s essential to have an effective career development plan in place to help your staff members hone their skills and advance their careers.
This may involve a departmental training program approved by the higher-ups, which is fine. But keep in mind that one-on-one coaching may have even more impact — and you can do it all by yourself.
4. Let them shine
After you’ve provided your employees with the training, coaching and tools they need, step aside and let them go to work.
Good employees don’t need to be instructed in tedious detail. Just lay the groundwork, set the deadlines and express the desired results.
Above all, don’t be afraid to see your people succeed. Their success doesn’t overshadow you. Rather, it reflects positively on you. And when they experience success, this will validate what you’ve been showing and telling them, leading to further progress and greater self-confidence — a quality a good manager must have.
5. Promote them
If you’re certain that you’ve prepared your employees to take the next step, why wait for somebody above you in the organization to approve an official promotion?
Start by giving them additional responsibilities or asking for their input on important matters. Invite them to join planning sessions or special-project teams, or find opportunities for them to make presentations at higher-level staff meetings to senior executives.
But of course, when a formal promotion opportunity becomes available, by all means recommend a meritorious employee for the opening.
Once one or more of your employees has advanced to a managerial position, your work isn’t done: You now get a chance to coach the next cohort of future leaders.
And the nicest thing is, there’s something in this for you. When your organization’s top leaders notice how many capable managers are emerging from your “stable,” they very likely will want to advance you to a position where you can work your magic with even more people.
Patrick DiDomenico is the Editorial Director at Business Management Daily and the founding editor of The HR Specialist family of newsletters, special reports and online resources. In 15+ years as a business journalist and thought leader, he’s been a newspaper reporter, Washington speechwriter and White House press aide. You can follow Pat on Twitter @HREmploymentLaw.
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