Prior to the pandemic, leadership and organization development experts were warning about the ongoing challenge of promoting outstanding individual contributors into leadership roles without the proper training and support.
In the current labor market, faced with high turnover, lack of staff, and even less time to provide leadership training, many organizations are promoting employees into leadership roles more frequently than ever before.
The promotion of employees into new leadership roles is hastily done in response to the growing number of vacancies in leadership positions. While managers and leaders are needed to help teams and organizations succeed, this is the ultimate “catch 22.” It seems as if this is a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape. With such short staffing, it seems impossible to provide the necessary training to get leaders ready for these roles.
While individual contributors might do fantastic work supporting the business on the front line, the individual contributor skill set is not the same as leading people.
Making promotions when employees are not ready is unfair and risky. While it seems like a great opportunity for employees to fast-track to management and being in the right place at the right time seems opportune, it is unfair to the employees on the team and the employee being promoted and the organization runs a great risk.
Without the conditions for success in place, including coaching support and training, the newly promoted manager and employees alike will become disheartened, disenfranchised, and dissatisfied.
Often, without support, new managers will make mistakes, struggle with decision making, lean toward a command-and-control style, micromanage, and become overwhelmed, which could all lead to chaos, lost revenue, customer complaints, additional turnover, and even legal issues. So, what is an organization to do?
Waiting for the current labor market conditions to improve and providing a comprehensive leadership development program are not plausible options. Yet, building a leadership skill set and prioritizing support, through critical and just-in-time training, group or individual coaching, and mentoring are more reasonable answers.
This requires focused attention and can be accomplished internally or externally through skilled and experienced leadership development coaches and talent development professionals.
Organizational leaders should not underestimate the necessity for newly promoted managers to have the support required to be successful in their roles, while emphasizing positive workplaces and high-performing teams to drive business results. New manager support should be ranked as high or higher than the need to fill the role itself.