Navigating promotion and is someone ready to be a Manager

When you’re appointing a new Manager the stakes are high. Regardless of your organisation, you need someone who can effectively lead people, manage a budget, liaise with upper management – and, usually do it all from day one.

But what if a potential hire doesn’t yet have a track record in doing all of the above? Would you hire or promote a star player into a management role if they’ve never managed anyone? How do know if they’re ready? What skills and personality traits do you need to look for?

All in all, promoting someone to Manager can be a daunting task, especially if there a couple of individuals who could potentially step up. To help you navigate a managerial appointment and decide whether someone is ready to be promoted, we have broken down the process to give you a clear picture of what you should consider.

The Dangers

For someone to effectively move into a management position they first need to understand and be aware of the nature of management. Moving into a management role requires one to pass on certain contributor duties and take on new responsibilities as a team leader. If this is not understood there are many negative situations which can occur, including;

  • Doing tasks that should be delegated to team members
  • Taking back tasks that they have delegated because they believe they can do them better or faster
  • Under communicating with their direct team members, making them unsure of their duties and responsibilities
  • Micromanaging in a way that doesn’t allow team members to expand their own capabilities or provide them with an opportunity to develop
  • Difficulties in managing previous colleagues and friends. A new Manager may struggle earning old colleagues respect or making hard decisions for the good of business which impact on previous colleagues or friends. Should formal action be required, Managers also need to be able to put emotions and relationships aside to make informed and impartial decisions.

A good way to gauge whether a candidate understands the role is to ask what they think management is about, and what specifically they would strive to do in managing a particular team.

It can also be helpful to ask what other management experience they have had outside of work: leading a sports or cultural team or a squad of volunteers, for instance. From these experiences they may have gained a very useful view of effective management techniques amongst other things.

What to look for Stafffinders - What to look for in a Manager

A lot of research has been put into what makes great Managers and the characteristics that all successful Managers share. Don’t be overwhelmed with what you should be looking for, instead keep it simple and focus on the following two characteristics:

     1.  People skills, including empathy and self-knowledge, are some of the most important characteristics that one needs in order to transition to management. Self-awareness, gained from life circumstances or professional experience are great traits to look for in a potential new Manager.

     2.  Emotional intelligence is another characteristic to look for in any potential management promotion. Emotional intelligence refers to the ‘candidate’s horizon’, their ability to look beyond the current task and the immediate situation to the additional considerations that a Manager should demonstrate: a vision for the future and the ramifications of that vision as well as an understanding of how to implement big picture thinking.

Internal Promotion

Internal promotion is a great way to reward an existing member of staff for their effort, loyalty and development. If you are considering promoting a member of your organisation here are some tips and tricks to help you judge their credibility and worthiness.

Asking co-workers for examples of an individual’s characteristics and skills is a great place to start as this gives you a well-rounded view of the candidate and how they are viewed by their future team. Questions you might like to ask include:

  • Who among your colleagues do you think displays management potential? 
  • How would you describe the candidate’s people skills? 
  • What are some of the candidate’s biggest strengths? 
  • When have you experienced the candidate(s) showing management potential?

Stafffinders - What makes a great manager?

One area where a number of organisations stumble when it comes to internal promotion is interviewing. Just because you may have chosen to fill a position internally, it doesn’t mean you should forget the standard recruitment process. Interview the candidate(s) and ask the questions you would ask if it was an outside appointment. After all, it isn’t a given that someone internal will get the job. Candidates need to know that promotion isn’t an entitlement, it still needs to be earnt.

Outside of the traditional interview questions, there are a number of personal development and leadership styled questions that can help you to assess a candidate’s readiness for promotion.

Some questions you might want to include are:

  • What do you view as the challenges of managing this team at this time?
  • Have you managed a group outside of work that helped you learn something about management?
  • Who among your co-workers has already seen your ability to manage a group and a project?
  • How would you prepare to move from your current role on the team into the role of team Manager?
  • How have you developed your people skills? 
  • How would you balance your attention to the big-picture goals and your team’s everyday implementation of them?
  • What would you do if one of your team repeatedly came into work late?

By considering these issues and by listening, observing, questioning, and discussing the potential of this candidate with others, you may conclude that they could be a talented and effective Manager. And if that’s the case, you want your decision to promote them to be a successful one.

Other things to consider during an interview include the prospective Manger’s ability to cope with being held accountable for their, and their teams, progress or actions. If a team or department is not delivering for example, a Manager needs to understand that they are held accountable.

Manager - Decision MakingAdditionally, Managers may need to make difficult decisions for the good of the organisation even if it upsets their colleagues or friends inside the business. Making these decisions require a certain level of seniority and maturity not only to make the decision, but to also effectively communicate with their team/department and stay emotionally neutral.

An interview is also a perfect opportunity to discuss the resources you can supply to assure that the new Manager will flourish. It’s also an opportunity to discuss with them that you or someone else will be available for mentoring, that there will be regular check-in meetings, that they should remember you want them to succeed, and that it’s quite all right to acknowledge the ups and downs of becoming a good Manager.

After all, every Manager had to take the first leap into managing people — and someone had to take a leap of faith with them.

Internal promotion can be tricky, and knowing whether someone is ready to become a Manager is even trickier! With over 45 years’ experience in placing top talent into Managerial roles, Stafffinders is able to assist in your internal recruitment need. From interviewing to skills and psychometric testing, Stafffinders has a range of services to suit your every requirement.


If you have any questions about this article or internal promotion, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the team who will be delighted to help.


Contact Us