One of the most difficult transitions in business is that step where we must hire and train managers. It is one thing to manage a line or staff employee. It is another thing to manage the managers. Often this step is also part of a transition where you, the owner, are needing to trust others with authority, not just tasks.
Many owners have difficulty delegating the responsibility of executing on a job. The common refrains, “I could do that better and faster myself,” or “I am so concerned that they won’t do it the way I want it done.”
With managers, however, you will be delegating not just responsibility for executing a task, you will often be giving them authority to: enter into and sign contracts, tell others what to do or not do, hire, fire, discipline, shut down production, change suppliers, authorize payments or even “sign checks.”
Moreover, training a manager includes training them to manage other people and delegate their task responsibilities. The nuances of this kind of training are way more numerous, complicated, and difficult than the training for how to invoice an order, fine-tune a machine, or sell a product line.
Hiring Managers Internally vs Externally
If this is your first time to hire, train, and manage managers, the job will be much easier if you are promoting an existing employee into the position, as opposed to hiring someone from the outside. ON THE OTHER HAND, just because someone is good at their job, you can’t assume they will be a good manager. There is a famous saying: “Don’t necessarily take your best salesman and make him/her the sales manager. You may end up gaining a horrible sales manager and losing your best salesperson.”
Generally, when hiring a manager, you are looking for individuals who are:
Self-starters and self-motivated – They need to set an example
Hard workers, including the jobs nobody wants to do – Leaders are at the front of the pack, not following behind, cheering from the stands, or watching from a cozy ivory tower.
Company people – There is nothing worse (literally nothing) than managers who are taking swipes at the company, the owners, or other leaders.
Servants – The best leaders care about their troops, desire the best for them, and are working to help them succeed.
Capable of setting goals, objectives, key performance indicators, and executing against a plan.
Open to ideas, instruction, and input from you, other managers, and their staff.
Honest and Trustworthy – Both you and their staff need to see integrity in this person.
While it is important that everyone in your organization understands the vision and mission of the company, their role in achieving that mission, and your expectations from them, it is significantly more crucial that your managers are in tune with you on these issues. They will be your voice and walk around carrying your authority. They will be transferring and communicating the vision, mission, individual purpose, and expectations to those for whom they are responsible. If they get it wrong, they will transfer the wrong information, and this is a key place where companies start to lose their ability to effectively execute the mission.
Another benefit of promoting from within is that the entire staff will feel more comfortable with such a transition. Yes, there is still a transition, since some will be disappointed, and some may feel a bit odd at first having to answer to someone who was once a peer. However, compared to bringing in a stranger who must now win over everyone at every level, the company produced manager has an advantage
This next bit is a Randy Kirk recommendation. Keep your door open and provide easy access to your managers. Let them know that they are in charge of their part of the business and that you’d prefer they solve their challenges on their own with the help of their staff and others. However, if they do want to bring an issue to you, they should also bring their suggested solution. Train your managers to be independent of you unless absolutely necessary.
Most managers, especially the best managers, will love independence. This in no way reduces top-down directives. However, when you want to make a directive, add new responsibility or authority, or make other changes, invite relevant managers to brainstorm about options. If they feel heard in the brainstorming environment, it will be much easier to get buy-in on the things you want to accomplish.
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