Creating Excellence Through People

Beyond the Promotion: Identifying and Developing New Managers

When we are developing new managers, we want them to aspire to be leaders, but it is premature to think they will adopt this vision right off the bat.

We all know the scenario and have likely seen it play out with various outcomes. Heck, we may have even been in this situation ourselves. Great employee gets promoted to manager. This is quite an accomplishment and certainly, something to be proud of, but then what? How do we identify and develop new managers?

Management skills will help to define a successful leader. Yep, that’s right. Leaders must have managerial skills. We often hear the terms management and leadership posed in an oppositional context, but the skills it takes to succeed at both are interconnected. We want new managers to aspire to be leaders, but it is premature to think they will adopt this vision right off the bat. There are a handful of people with inherent leadership qualities, about 10%, according to a Gallup study, and around 20% more who display managerial skills that can be cultivated into quality leadership. At the end of the day, these folks must be able to provide the technical knowledge, detail, and direction of a manager to lead holistically.

Here are a few practical considerations to think over when deciding to promote a new manager.

Does the employee want to become a manager? There are many thriving individual contributors who do not have any desire to supervise others. Taking on a team requires a great deal of intention and willingness to develop. Plus, let’s not forget that a promotion can be hard to turn down. Ensuring the employee does not agree to this new work dynamic based on pressure or the praise and perks that may come with a promotion that involves direct reports will save all involved a lot of headaches and liabilities down the line.  

Tenure does not predict management ability. What makes a great employee is only a portion of what makes a great manager. The skills and strengths that make an individual contributor excel will not hold the same value as the skills required to grow a new manager into a great leader. The same rule of thumb goes for how long an employee has been with a company. There are numerous dynamics that include advantages and disadvantages which will influence why an employee may work for a company for a prolonged period. 

Be proactive to provide development opportunities. We can’t assume the new manager will get the hang of their new role even if they are ready and willing. Setting up a new manager for success also means setting up their team for success. Providing training opportunities to the new manager that go beyond checking a box and are focused on transfer of learning is key. And, as always, practice makes progress!

What’s the new manager walking into? Was the predecessor a beloved leader who will be dearly missed, and now there are big shoes to fill? Or is the team relieved the predecessor is out, but the damage has been done, and now there is an abundance of skepticism about anyone who takes over the role? It is the employer’s responsibility to gauge the team’s morale, outstanding issues or concerns, and the overall department landscape. This will not only help determine what support and development opportunities are a priority for the new manager’s success but what needs repairing for the satisfaction and success of the collective.

Try not to second guess promoting an awesome employee with no managerial experience. Everyone must start somewhere, but identifying the most capable and willing individuals is critical. This starts with taking a step back to reflect and review hiring and promotion policies. It’s been said time and time again, and backed by research, that employees don’t leave companies but leave their managers. Morale, performance, and the cost of replacing an employee are just a few reasons employers must be deliberate with development and succession planning.


Indeed Editorial Team. (2023, March 10). Tenure in a Job: Definition, Advantages and Disadvantages


Pilgrim, J. (2019, December 8). Employees Don’t Leave Companies, They Leave Managers. LinkedIn.

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Terri Cummings

As Owner & Senior Consultant at Level Up Solutions HRD LLC, Terri Cummings is an advocate of lifelong learning who fosters bridging the connection between personal and professional development. Through strategy and proactive development, her aim is to align students, members of the workforce, and employers with continuous growth and opportunity that achieves sustainable success.

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