How to prepare your employees to rise to the top of management roles

According to a CareerBuilder Survey Out of more than 3,600 employees, Most people don’t want to be managers. Of the subset who are interested in growing into management, they make up slightly more than a third of the organization (34%). This slim percentage doesn’t provide enough innate appetite to satisfy the company’s need for aspiring managers from individual contributors.

Why is it like this? Companies have created a job called “manager”, who has a very bad reputation. And it’s understandable. Here’s an everyday understanding of what a manager’s job is: You approve content, you remind people of stuff they need to do, you tell people you need to approve What to do, and then you tell them how they’re doing it wrong.

Despite the headlines of this article on how much feedback we all want, we really don’t want to give or receive it. Pile on the ever-moving nature of work today and you’ve got a huge disconnect between the job description and the real world.

We need to redefine and reorganize the role of the “manager” to reflect the dramatic, pandemic-accelerated changes that have taken place in the world of work. This rethinking is needed in three shifts.

  1. Fluctuating working model. Just a few months ago, hybrids were the new kid in town. And now it’s the norm. Our leaders need specific processes to be able to support their team members, no matter where they are sitting.
  2. pace of work. Work is no longer done in year-long increments. The word “annual” has disappeared from business conversations. People’s leaders need to keep up with the lightning fast pace at which work is underway.
  3. dynamic work. We are used to thinking that work happens in teams as they appear on the organization chart. While the organization chart represents the home base, employees today often go from team to team, contributing to multiple teams at the same time. People leaders need visibility to the enormity of their team members’ work, not just the organization-charts of what is happening in the team.

These changes, along with others, should be forcing organizations to redesign the roles and practices of people leaders. Organizations and especially HR need to simplify roles, change perceptions around workforce maturity and enhance performance.

simplify roles

During the pandemic, human resources departments have pushed many tasks onto managers. Some transfers may be appropriate, but mass leaders are not a substitute for human resource expertise. HR must analyze the work they have assigned to managers and ensure that it is where it belongs. If we expect people leaders to play the role of guiding our most important assets, we need to create the time and emotional space for them to do so, not overload them with administrative tasks. Fill your HR team with experts who can help your manager with tough things like negotiating, documenting poor performance, and supporting employees through tough times. Hopefully these difficult situations don’t happen too often (which most likely doesn’t stick with training managers being able to handle them). HR will become the trusted advisor they have always wanted to be.

treat your people like adults

Start with a complete trust bucket. You hired an association of adults; Treat them like this. Unless required by law, you may not be required to allow yourself to go to a doctor’s appointment or monitor an application that employees are using. Of course, there will be exceptions, but don’t design your workplace norms around exceptions. Create a separate exception process with triggers that bring a more robust approach when needed, but otherwise, assume maturity.

focus on great work

That may be the whole point of putting leaders in the first place. People’s leaders should be like that favorite teacher who looked your best (instead of the one you were afraid to drag yourself into the principal’s office). Leaders have a direct vision to help employees do more and better work. In this new hybrid, dynamic, fast-moving world of work, leaders need to be as agile as their environment. This translates into light-hearted, frequent contact with employees instead of an occasional cumbersome conversation. This means less documentation, a deliberate focus on an employee’s strengths, and a renewed respect for their role in the success of the organization.

The role of a mass leader is difficult, partly because human resources make it difficult, and partly because people are complex and finicky individuals. It is time we rethink and redesign the most important role in the company to be able to succeed and contribute to the new world of work.


Amy Leschke-Kahle is the Vice President of Performance Acceleration at ADP Company, Marcus Buckingham, where she collaborates with clients to drive engagement, performance and leadership development based on each organization’s unique culture.