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How to help your senior-level employees transition into leadership roles

September 24, 2018
Borderless Leadership

No matter what your organization’s current structure looks like, it’s wise for top-level leaders to always be thinking about the next generation of managers. Whether you’re grooming someone to replace an executive after they retire or simply helping employees take their next career step, you need to have a plan in place for helping those individuals grow as leaders.

Leadership development can be especially critical when you have a senior employee stepping into their first management role. The skills and attributes that made them excellent individual contributors are not necessarily the same things that will help them as managers, and it’s up to you to help them make the appropriate shift in mindset and approach.

If you want to help your senior-level staff become incredible leaders, follow these 10 tips from Forbes Coaches Council members.

1. Determine Whether The Employee Is Management Material

Just because an employee is a great individual contributor doesn’t mean the next step in their career is to be a manager. I think that’s the first conversation to have: Is that the right next step in their career path? And if not, what is? If it is, then provide training and mentorship to ensure that the employee will become a manager who employees will want to work for and with. – Annette Franz, CX Journey Inc.

2. Create A Growth-Focused Environment

Organizations can best support senior-level leaders by creating opportunities for growth. Create an environment for self-reflection, learning and feedback loops, and integrate them into the annual performance plan. Assign a leadership coach to help develop and fine-tune existing leadership skill sets. Finally, provide global or cross-functional assignments to broaden horizons and perspectives. – Flo Falayi, Hybrid Leaders Inc.

3. Invest In Your Employees To Help Them Improve

Nurture their strengths and talents, and enhance areas for improvement. When an organization invests in their employees and provides opportunities for personal and professional growth, employees have an advantage. Focusing on skills, attitude and mindset and providing on-the-job coaching will help these employees become great managers and effective leaders. – Nadidah Coveney, CTM Consulting Group LLC

4. Help Them Learn How To Develop People

The transition from senior-level employee to great manager requires a mindset that is focused on developing those around you. Cultivating this type of mindset often happens within personalized coaching sessions that allow the employee to explore the assumptions, fears and beliefs about that type of transition while also creating actionable steps that support effectiveness. – Sheeba Varghese,

5. Start With Small, Low-Risk Leadership Opportunities

Companies can support development by relying on leadership of staff events, such as volunteer days or awards programs, as entry points into management. The event leaders are mentored, receive feedback regularly and can discern whether management is a personal calling. The opportunity to learn and try without the risk of damaging company performance is an engaging way to develop beyond courses. – Kelly Tyler Byrnes, Voyage Consulting Group

6. Focus On Creating A Leader, Not Just A Manager

Too often, corporations concentrate on making better managers instead of making more effective leaders. If you concentrate on making more effective leaders, you will start to focus on things such as self-awareness, showing empathy and general motivation of employees. Doing those things will help senior-level employees become better managers. – Donald Hatter, Donald Hatter Inc.

7. Teach Them To Occupy A Management Mindset

New managers often underperform because most employees think they can bring the same mindset to management that made them stellar individual contributors. The most important shift is to learn to measure, direct and motivate performance from where the individual sits, rather than compare their output and capabilities to your own. Get to know each person individually. – Loren Margolis, Training & Leadership Success LLC

8. Give Them Mentorship Roles That Tap Into Their Strengths

Provide senior employees with opportunities to use their knowledge to help benefit new hires. Identify their strengths, and match them with a person or a team that could use that guidance and advice to fill a gap. For instance, if a senior person builds teams that are creative and innovative, put them in charge of training new hires on how to build effective teams. – Beth Kuhel, Get Hired LLC

9. Help Employees Get Certifications

It’s one thing to invest in a course or hire a coach for a few hours (which is also a very good idea). It’s another thing to ensure your manager-to-be has a commitment to training and certification processes that last beyond a month or two. When your senior-level employee knows you’re helping them gain an industry credential, it means you’re bringing them value that they can keep and use. – John M. O’Connor, CareerPro Inc.

10. Develop Their Coaching Skills

Great managers assist people and teams with envisioning new possibilities, developing themselves and delivering extraordinary outcomes. They coach them to grow and elevate their contributions to customers and other stakeholders. Great managers are coachable and offer coaching to those around them. Great organizations develop their leaders’ coaching skills and integrate coaching into their cultures. – Tom Hardison, Generative Leadership Group LLC

Source: Forbes Coaches Council

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