HR Tip of the Week

Posted on  |  Performance management

6 Keys to Turning an Employee into a Manager

6 Keys to Turning an Employee into a Manager

When you need a manager, filling the opening with an internal candidate can save valuable time, energy, and money. But, you shouldn't just stick an employee, even a high performing one, in a manager's role and expect them to succeed. Employees need to be groomed and trained to be successful managers. Here are some tips for preparing an employee to become a manager.

#1: Define Skills

Start by defining the skills needed to be a successful manager at your company. Keep in mind that managers must make important decisions related to hiring, promotion, discipline, termination, goal-setting, budgets, and employee engagement. In addition to necessary leadership and interpersonal skills, think about the short-term and long-term goals of your company and the type of managers needed to meet those goals.

#2: Identify Candidates

Identify high potential employees who have leadership capabilities. Avoid acting on explicit and implicit biases when evaluating potential candidates. For example, don't assume employees wouldn't be interested in additional responsibilities or time commitments because of family obligations. Use performance evaluations, self-assessments, and feedback from peers and supervisors to help assess candidates. Then gauge their strengths, weaknesses, and readiness for added responsibilities. If an employee expresses interest in becoming a manager and you determine they aren't quite ready, let them know why and help them further develop their skills.

#3: Use Mentoring

Establish a mentoring program that pairs an experienced employee with a less experienced employee. Typically, a mentor is someone other than the employee's direct supervisor. Ongoing mentoring can help transfer knowledge and skills and prepare employees for leadership roles. Also consider pairing new managers with more experienced managers, someone to whom they can go for guidance. Be clear with mentors about your expectations and check in regularly with both parties.

#4: Give Stretch Assignments

Employees learn many of their skills through job assignments. Assigning new responsibilities to help stretch an employee's skills or capabilities (also known as "stretch assignments") can help develop an employee's talents and hone managerial skills. Give high potential employees additional responsibilities beyond their workgroup so they gain exposure to other teams across the organization.

#5: Provide Feedback

Give all employees regular feedback so that they gain insight into how their professional development is progressing. Consistent feedback can help motivate employees who want to learn and grow with the company. Monitoring performance can also help to identify training needs as well as employees who are ready to be groomed for management positions.

#6: Train and Develop

Provide training and development opportunities to employees preparing for management positions as well as those already in supervisory roles. Seminars and workshops on topics such as employee relations, IT, and operations can help refine managerial skills. Industry-specific licenses or certifications may also be necessary.

Managers should also receive initial and ongoing training on:

  • Communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Holding effective meetings
  • Time management
  • Interviewing and hiring
  • Promoting a fair and inclusive work environment
  • Enforcing company policies consistently
  • Motivating and recognizing employees, goal setting, providing constructive feedback, and conducting performance reviews
  • Recognizing and responding to sexual harassment* and other misconduct
  • Understanding and avoiding retaliation
  • Managing leave and other employee requests
  • Soliciting feedback from employees
  • Discipline and termination

* Note: California, Connecticut, and Maine expressly require employers to provide supervisors with sexual harassment training. Additionally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has published updated guidelines for preventing sexual harassment in the workplace, including effective training practices.


Develop and train qualified employees at your company so that they are prepared to step into a managerial role. Additionally, provide ongoing training to employees currently in management positions to foster growth and development and effectively enforce company policies and procedures.

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