Eventually, there will come a time when you’ll need to recruit managers. Whether it be due to organisational growth, and you no longer have the time to manage everyone yourself. Or because the company is in transition and you’ve set up new departments/teams. At the end of the day: you’ll need someone you can trust to competently take over the managerial tasks, giving you the freedom to focus on the bigger picture.
You have two options when appointing managers: external or internal recruitment. There are benefits to both but we always prefer to recruit from within. It’s better for business in the long term: candidates already understand the company dynamic and are committed. Plus, showing you invest in your people sets a tone with the rest of the workforce. In reality however, internal recruitment can have it’s pitfalls. How can you tell who is ready, willing and able to take on the challenging transition from specialist to manager?
We regularly encounter the following scenarios:
Ring any bells?
We hear a lot of discussion around the following steps to transitioning a specialist into a management role:
However, the first and most important step barely even gets a mention. We’re talking about talent spotting.
Talent spotting is an underrated yet essential skill. It is something that can easily go wrong, and we see it happen often. This oversight can result in huge consequences and setbacks for your business. Just look at the situations described above: what do you think happens when you make these mistakes a few times? Do you think the morale amongst your workers will stay high? Or that their great results will remain consistent? Nope…Exactly!
Talent spotting is a talent in itself, and tricky for three reasons:
Firstly bias, everyone is biased, it’s human nature: you promote the people that you like or the ones that shout the loudest. Leaving the more introverted amongst your people feeling invisible, without getting their chance to shine.
Secondly, you are making assumptions based on emotion rather than facts and hard data. The ability to spot the right talent is an instinct which you develop over time. When is it good enough and how can you tell if someone is taking advantage? These are the decisions that can make or break your business.
Bias and emotion are soft skills, they can be worked on and improved over time. They are definitely something that we can help you with (just not in this article).
The third reason is that talent spotting is based on psychology: there are barely any leaders that are also psychologists. Knowing what motivates a person in the long and short term and how this changes in the transition process is key. This psychological aspect is based on a relatively simple theory.
According to books Drive and Flow, the long and short term motivations and the corresponding changes associated with a transition can be split into four categories:
So, your task of spotting talent just got a whole lot more complicated. But trust us, when you take these things in to consideration, you’re increasing your chance of success. Give yourself the time to master this skill and reap the long term rewards.
We look for the following natural characteristics, when spotting talent:
These qualities may seem difficult to measure. But asking these questions should help separate the wheat from chaff:
Of course, there are also important hard skills to be considered (communication, prioritisation, the ability to multitask ect). However, in general, these are skills that can be learned and developed.
Change is never easy, the long road of transition will have highs and lows for you and your talent. Be patient, they will succeed and become fully fledged, self reliant and competent managers. And you’ll be free and able to fully focus on other challenges for your growing business.
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