Poof! You’re a boss.

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Most people who get promoted to a boss’s role today get promoted because they were good individual contributors. Then we give them virtually no training and expect them to be productive in their new role within hours. We offer them only catch-as-catch-can support.

Is it any wonder we have so many bosses who don’t like their job and aren’t good at it? Bosses are the key to productivity and morale. So let’s do it right.

Pick people for the job who’ve at least shown some evidence of the ability to do it well. Look for men and women who like helping others succeed. Look for men and women who are willing to talk to others about performance or behavior. Look for men and women who are willing to make decisions and be accountable for results.

Give them some basic skills. I’m not talking about how to fill out all those forms or master the policy manual. Give them some basic skills for setting clear and reasonable expectations, then following up to assure performance. Help them understand their new role. Help them learn to direct their own development.

Help them make the transition. It won’t happen overnight. Figure a year to eighteen months. There should be ongoing training.

Consider something similar to the police field training model. There, experienced officers, who’ve learned to be training officers, are assigned to help new officers make the transition from academy to effective work on the street. Why not Transition Training Supervisors with a title and come extra bucks and recognition?

Structure peer support so every boss gets it. There are some things you can only discuss with peers.

Create options for promotion that don’t involve being a boss. Make it possible for people who assume supervisory roles to give them up if they find it’s simply awful. If you don’t, they’ll be simply awful bosses.

Boss’s Bottom Line

Many of the things above are also above your pay grade. But you can help men and women on your team make a good judgment about whether being a boss is for them. You can help them prepare themselves for the job. And you can be their mentor even when they’ve moved into their new job.

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