Ask the Coach Question Seven – How do You Handle Employees Who Aren’t Ready for a Promotion?

Do you REALLY Want to be a Manager? Every manager has been approached by someone looking, but isn’t ready for a promotion into management, or there’s no current opportunity available. Here’s how to avoid these redundant conversation and instead, share your positive intent (enrollment) so you can coach them to ensure people distinguish fact from fiction and know exactly what they’re signing up for.

I’m sure this situation isn’t a stranger to you. “Hey boss, I’ve been in sales for about a year or so and would like to discuss moving into management.”

What’s your typical reaction. Call me clairvoyant – I’m going to suggest that when you hear this, you take on more of a defensive posture. You climb onto your soapbox and explain to your rep why that is not an option right now. And after the conversation, if it goes at all well, you may appease that person – but for how long?

It’s only a matter of time until they’re calling you or walking into your office wanting to revisit the same conversation again.

Did you seek deeper to understand their point of view, and the whyin order to get to a root cause? Did you take the time to uncover why this person wants to be a manager in the first place? And if there was a fit, did you take the time to map out in some written format, a career path, and trajectory co-created by the both of you so that the direct can clearly see the path, skills, knowledge, responsibilities, change in workflow, work hours and disposition that need to be embraced in order to be an effective manager? Not to mention ensuring that you came up with a realistic timeline when it would be feasible for this person to move into a management position, as well as the steps and milestones that need to be achieved and by when in order to do so.

If you’re finding yourself having repetitive conversations, chances are you missed many of the items I mentioned about, the gap or root cause and instead, wound up treating symptoms. The root of this evil? Assumptions made by both the manager and direct. And if you’re making assumptions, you’re not being curious enough to ask the right questions.

The dangerous and most costly of all assumptions?  The manager and direct both assumed that each of their definitions and perceptions of “management” and the role of a manager are, in fact, the same.

ving an in-depth authentic conversation so that you can set and re-set clear expectations, your intentions and the alignment and understanding around the expected results required prior to a promotion, as well as the professional development, and internal organizational changes that need to happen in order to get promoted into a management position or any senior position they’re striving for. Positioning this conversation and setting expectations would include: what a promotion would entail, what results would need to be achieved prior to a promotion, the skills that would need to be developed as a manager, what the expectations would be as a manager, as well as a realistic timeline for a promotion. Here’s what that could sound like.

“John, I appreciate your drive to advance in your career and share your career goals. I want to support you the best way I can. That includes ensuring I’m doing everything possible to help you progress in your career, manage your expectations around your career path and timeline, and ensure you’re clear around the role and responsibilities of a great manager. This way, you can assess if management is truly the next step you want to take. Are you open to discussing this?”

1. Why do you want to be a manager?

2. Can you please share your view around the role and responsibilities of a manager?

3. What are the benefits (time, responsibilities, compensation, etc.) of becoming a manager, as opposed to staying in the role of an independent contributor?

4. What would you envision doing less of as a manager? Why?

5. What would you envision doing more of as a manager? Why?

6. As a manager, what are the priorities that you would focus on most? Why?

7. Describe your perception of what a typical day would look like as a manager?

8. What challenges do you believe you may be faced with in a management position?

9. What do you feel your primary objective and responsibility is as a manager?

10. How would you go about building a future bench of great managers?

11. What assumptions might you be making about a management role?

12. How does becoming a manager align with and impact your personal and professional goals, values, and priorities?

13. What is your timeline and expectation around being promoted into a management role?

14. What would you need to accomplish to ensure you’re ready to be a manager?