Taking the Leap from Field to Management, by Linda Leigh Francis
All at once, all your clients are ready to go. Clearly, there is more work than youcan manage profitably, so you decide that the time is right to moveyour young, competent, aggressive technician into the position ofmanager. After all, he has done a great job doing the physical work, sohe should be able to jump right in and do a great job managing. Right?
Well,maybe, depending on how you go about it. How often have we seen someonegreat at one level fail miserably at the next step up? This failure isoften called the "Peter Principle" ¾ promoting someone to their level of incompetence.
However,there is a big difference between a lack of ability and a lack ofskills. If a lack of skills causes the failure, it is not the "PeterPrinciple" at work. It is management’s failure to train the employeefor the new job that is the problem.
Theleap from doing work to managing it is huge. While it is a leap thatmany make, to do it successfully requires training and support.
Letme give you some examples of what I mean. First, the leap requires adifferent perspective for dealing with personal relationships on thejob site. For example, as a carpenter it is advantageous to be one ofthe gang. However, a manager needs a more objective, bottom-lineapproach. To operate effectively the manager can’t be everyone’s pal.This is a tough leap to make.
Second,a new manager must his or her perspective about how to work. In thefield, attention to every detail is a strength. A short-term,get-this-job-done focus is needed. To have this perspective as amanager is deadly. A manager needs to see the big picture from multipleperspectives and delegate details.
Finally,there is the shift in work skills. The employee must trade in thetechnical expertise that was of such great value in the field. In itsplace is working through and with employees, training them to be the experts and the producers. It includes planning, paperwork, coordination of details, understanding costs, etc.
Ifyou want to ensure that your young, competent, aggressive techniciancontinues to be successful in your company in his or her new role, hereare some things you need to do.
First,be sure that you have a clearly written job description for the newposition. Review the job description with the employee making sure heor she understands what you expect. Also at this time, identify anytraining needs.
Second,introduce the new position and responsibilities to others in thecompany. Make sure everyone understands the new chain of command andthat you expect everyone to follow it. Do not let people bypass yournew manager. Doing so will undermine your manager’s ability toestablish their new role and subsequently their success.
Third, set up a training schedule for the new skills required for success in this management role. Skills like:
- Understandinghow your business operates and exactly how your business makes money.This must include not only how individual jobs make money, but what thecompany as a whole needs to do to be successful.
- Understanding the company’s annual plan and how to participate in the company’s annual planning process.
- Howto effectively manage employees, trade contractors, and the clientsthey serve. This could include training on effective communication, howto hire, supervise, motivate, evaluate and discipline employees,customer service skills, and partnering with trade contractors.
- Howto effectively manage time. This skill includes how to organize andprioritize, how to delegate, how to use a daily planner, how to managepaperwork, and how to plan ahead ¾ by the day, week, and month.
- Howto use office technology and an introduction to office systems. Do notassume that the employee knows how to use a computer and your softwareor knows how your internal systems work. They have only been therecipients of the results of these systems, not the users.
Rememberthat you moved this person into the new position to enhance yourbusiness’ success and bottom line. Be sure to take the actionsnecessary to ensure that this is the result you get. Take the time todo it right, and you and your new manager will be happy and sane.
Like to learn more? Get Linda Leigh Francis' book, Run Your Business So It Doesn't Run You.