Promoting a worker to boss? Traits to look for

It’s a pretty easy call. You’re looking for a department supervisor and Dave’s got what it takes. He does his job well, he knows the people he’ll boss around and he’s got that certain way with words. And he’s pretty loud, too.

So you promote him.

Slow down a bit. Before you call Dave into your office to give him the good news, consider this: Not all employees who do their jobs well can successfully transition into a manager. As a boss, Dave may be a disaster. Then what do you do with him?

Here are traits to look for when assessing whether a worker could step into a leadership role:

  1. People skills. Does the employee easily collaborate on projects and respectfully consider others’ ideas? Has he or she ever voluntarily helped a co-worker? If yes, this is a good start. If an employee prefers working alone, and performs well, let it go at that.
  2. Leadership abilities. You know the type. These are the workers who step up and take charge in a positive way and their peers gravitate toward that charisma. They are self-starters and show confidence in what they do. Workers who come to you often for direction and guidance won’t cut it as a manager. These would be high-maintenance supervisors. You would be micromanaging a manager who can’t manage. Sound fun?
  3. Risk-takers. We’re not talking about recklessness here. You’re looking for employees who aren’t afraid to take good-faith calculated risks when they see an opening for progress. Rethink promoting anyone who doesn’t display a little entrepreneurial flair.
  4. No fear of conflict. Your supervisors will confront conflict. There’s no getting around it. They will deal with complainers, whiners and slackers. They will need to mete out discipline and dish out criticism to people they once hobnobbed with. Any employee who avoids conflict at all costs will either hate being a boss or won’t be very good at it.
  5. Company integrity. Anyone who has been bad-mouthing the organization’s leaders, processes or goals will not likely stop when he becomes a boss.

After considering all that, look around the room. The pickin’s are mighty slim. On the other hand, you can always craft a want ad and look outside the organization for your new boss. Then you’ll get lots of candidates who say they possess all those traits.

Who said being a manager was easy?