As employees progress in their career, they’ll want to move up the company ladder. However, moving up the company ladder usually means moving into a management position. But what do you do with employees that deserve to move up the ladder but don’t want to manage people? Not all good employees want to manage people and not all employees are good at managing people. Employee engagement and promotion can be a significant challenge facing many managers and executives.
I used to work with a gentleman in a small recruiting company who was a fantastic automotive engineering recruiter. No matter the position he was working on, he could find a great candidate to fill any position. As a result, he quickly climbed the corporate ladder and became a recruiting manager. Along with the new title came new responsibilities, including managing three other automotive engineering recruiters. He quickly grew frustrated in his new position because he was bringing in new business but couldn’t get his staff to fill the positions quickly. He started firing people and within a year and a half, he had completely recycled his staff 3 times. When other managers tried to find out what was going on, he was quick to shift the blame to his team. Things started to change for the better once the other managers asked his employees for their thoughts. It quickly became apparent that he didn’t know how to manage people, nor did he want to manage people. Instead of working with his team and making them bet
ter, he was quick to single people out and make fun of them for various things. He would also get frustrated and verbally abuse his staff, resulting in them not caring about the company and their boss.
Most companies don’t provide growth unless you’re willing to manage others. If a company promotes someone into a position where they need to manage others, but the employee doesn’t want to manage people, not only does it leave that person frustrated and dissatisfied with their position, but it puts the other employees in a bad situation. So here’s the problem; if a company doesn’t show a development path, the company is probably going to lose those good employees that deserve to advance in their careers. It’s not fair to anybody to force them into a position where they need to manage others. If those good employees are kept in the same position, they’ll eventually seek new opportunities elsewhere. What is a company to do if a good employee deserves to be promoted but doesn’t want to manage people?
The answer is simple; make them a subject matter expert! By doing this, it’s a great way to promote an employee without making them manage others. They become the go-to expert in the office on a specific topic and can contribute their input and knowledge when needed. Circling back to the above example, once the other managers learned that the new manager wasn’t good at managing, they turned him into a recruiting account manager instead. He would handle staffing for specific accounts, give input and knowledge in the office when needed, but best of all, he didn’t have to manage others. Not only did his productivity increase, but the company’s business also grew because they were able to cut down on staff turnover. The company was able to retain and benefit from the knowledge and skills of their experienced employees.
So the next time you think about promoting an employee into a management position, sit down and talk with the employee. Find out if they are willing and able to manage others, but make it clear they don’t need to manage others in order to climb the corporate ladder. They’ll appreciate having the option and will be happier in the long run.