How To Move Into Management

by Kevin M Burns
Just because people have a great skill set on the job doesn't mean they're capable of leading others. And that's what managers do: they don't do the job they want done anymore, they coach and lead others to do it. 
Years ago, I sold copiers and faxes for a living. The company I worked for was a Canadian division of a worldwide copier company. Our sales training took place about every eighteen months and was facilitated by our US trainer. One two-day training session every eighteen months was far below the needs of the organization. The turnover rate of salespeople in this industry was high so training every year and a half was hugely inadequate. The Canadian brass recognized this and, over lunch one day, they (President and VP Sales) articulated that they would like to consider developing a trainer specifically for Canada.

I wanted a shot at that job and I said so.

"You have to sell more," was the response from the VP Sales. The President nodded in agreement.

"Let me ask you this," I chimed in. "Were you (meaning both the President and VP) the best salespeople this company has ever had?"

"Of course not," The President responded.

"But you both got to be President and VP," I remarked. "You're doing a good job without being the best in sales."

Just because people have a great skill set on the job doesn't mean they're capable of leading others. And that's what managers do: they don't do the job they want done anymore, they coach and lead others to do it. Trainers train and salespeople sell. Your best salesperson is not necessarily your best trainer.

Wayne Gretzky could be considered the greatest hockey player that ever lived but as a coach, he is perhaps average - his record would indicate that.

How can you train people to be better managers?

People are bad at managing others when they are bad at managing themselves. They may be great at the job but lousy people - perhaps even a jerk to some. The best they will do is to impart their way of getting business done - and their own personalities are going to run through their training programs. Teaching people to be jerks is not necessarily good for business overall.

Your best salesman is not always your best sales manager. Your best accountant is not always your best VP Finance. Your best customer service rep may not be your best customer service manager. It's a completely different skill set to manage/train. The most important skill being - to be able to inspire others to be their very best. The person who fills a management or training position within an organization had better have "people" skills. You can't possess people skills if you yourself are not good "people."

If there's a staffer who is a high-performer but not a great human being that is being considered for management, you will need that manager to inspire and coach your team. Don't send him or her to a management course and expect that they can grasp basic "people" skills - that's just building skills on a lousy foundation. Fix the person. Make them a better person. Improve their willingness to accept that they themselves have things they need to work on. Make them want to be better people then give them the skills to be a manager. Invest first in a "personal" development course for them and then based on the outcome of that course, consider them for a promotion where handling your people is Job #1.

If they're not good at developing themselves, they'll never be any good at developing your people or inspiring your people to improve themselves. Remember, people don't quit their jobs - they quit their managers.

The self-improvement attitude is crucial for anyone who has aspirations of moving into management one day. People follow people who treat them with respect. Staff loathe jerks for managers. If the organization is ever going to improve, the people at the top (and those on their way there) need to lead by example.

We, the general public, want to do good business with good people.

Kevin Burns, Author & Attitude Adjuster, is an attitude expert in Employee Engagement, Service Leadership and Corporate Safety. Kevin believes better people offer better service, make better sales, get along better, communicate better, engage themselves better, manage better and overall, make your organization better and safer as a whole. He delivers high-energy and hilarious keynote presentations to corporate and association audiences throughout North America. To inquire about Kevin's availability, call toll-free 1-877-BURNS-11.

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