Selecting New Bosses: Three things you shouldn’t guess about

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One of the biggest crapshoots in many a company is selecting individual contributors for positions where they’re responsible for the performance of a group. There are lots of ways to get it wrong.

Some companies give people a boss’s job if they’re stellar performers in an individual contributor’s job. If you get it wrong this way, and you wind up with a lousy boss, you also lose productivity in the individual contributor role.

Other companies are more sophisticated. They use a variety of tests and assessments to determine if the person being considered will make a good boss. That improves the odds, but you can do even better.

Here are three things that everyone should demonstrate before you put them in a boss’s job. It’s easier to assess these things if you give people opportunities to try on the boss’s role in a temporary assignment like a project team or task force. Do that and they will either demonstrate these three things or not.

They should demonstrate the willingness to decide. We can teach someone how to make better decisions. What we can’t teach is the willingness to decide and therefore to become accountable.

They should demonstrate the willingness to have uncomfortable conversations. Some of those conversations will be with team members about performance or behavior. Others will be with their boss conveying something the boss needs to hear but may not want to hear. We can teach you how to make those conversations more effective, but we can’t teach you to be willing to have them.

They should demonstrate that they enjoy helping other people succeed. The best bosses help the team and the individual team members succeed. Again, we can teach you how to do it better, but we can’t teach you to want to help others.

Boss’s Bottom Line

Find an individual contributor who demonstrates those three things and who also wants to be responsible for the performance of a group, and the odds of a successful transition go way up.

Your Turn

Does this match your experience?

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