Many individual contributors who have been successful at their jobs often get the opportunity to move up into a management position.  Because they have demonstrated an ability to handle additional responsibilities as a single contributor, the conclusion is that they can handle the additional responsibilities of leading people.

Before you step up, ask yourself these questions as a starting point. And if you are a manager about ready to promote, these are great questions to review with the potential promotion candidate.

1. What should I do during my first day as a manager? By the 30th and 90th days?

If you don’t know the answer to this question, then you need to sit down with your new boss BEFORE your first day and prioritize key success criteria for your new position.

Leadership Tip:  Managers who are promoting star performers should clearly define success and any areas of development and training the new manager should receive.  It is your job to make sure they have all the tools and resources to be successful.

2. How will I find out the strengths and challenges of each team member?

Ask to review your team member’s employee performance evaluations as a start but this should not be your only data point. Develop ways, projects or tasks, to determine if the performance evaluation, both strengths and challenges, are still valid. And if you have the resources, assessment tools will provide additional data points.  Some of the more common tools are DiSC, Myers Briggs and Strengths Finder.

Leadership Tip: Always try to focus on a person’s strengths and how they can use their strengths to overcome their limitations.

3. What should I do when someone misses a commitment?

First review your process for delegation.  When delegating, both you and the team member are accountable.  You are accountable for making sure the person is capable of making the promise i.e. they have the necessary skills and resources.  You are also accountable for getting a clear commitment from the person. A clear commitment requires an understanding of the task, the due date, and the impact the task has on you and/or the team.

Leadership Tip: When delegating, use the SMIT model: specific, measurable, impact, and time bound. And when the person is making her promise, listen for the use of the pronoun “I”.  The use of  “we” is unacceptable and does not create accountability!

4. How should I be managing their performance?

Performance management is an ongoing process and not an annual event.  It may be that this is the process your company uses and here is your chance to take leadership in performance management. Make it part of your monthly routine to meet individually with each of your direct reports. This is their time not yours.  It should be all about what they need, what they are concerned about, and what they feel good about.  This time will show them that you care and give you an opportunity to practice your coaching skills.

Leadership Tip:  When you learn and become skilled at coaching your team members, you will be developing them to perform at a higher level which will free you up for doing the important and not the urgent. The core of coaching is asking really great questions to get them to explore their options and self-limiting beliefs.

5. What should I be doing to be successful in my new job?

Remember that success comes from influencing and inspiring others which builds trust and respect. Your success is dependent on many people’s success across many departments. Now that you are responsible for being the leader, it is about creating larger successes.  It is no longer about you!

Leadership Tip:  Identify the key people outside of your team that you need to influence and then determine how you can help them be successful.

6. What happens if I am not sure exactly what to do?

Ask your team first if it isn’t personnel related.  You probably have an idea of what you need to do or you may have some options that you need flushed out. What a great opportunity to have a brainstorming session and let your team members’ voices be heard! Make sure to let them know what direction you plan on taking and thank everyone for their input.

Leadership tip:  When facilitating brainstorming sessions, remember to use the “Yes I like that because, and” technique. This eliminates “yes, but” which totally negates the previous statement and shuts down the flow of ideas.

Answering these questions should provide you or the person you are promoting with a head start to success!

Image provided by Stock Exchange (