July 25, 2017

Ask These Questions to Gauge an Employee’s Management Potential


Ask These Questions When Assessing Management Potential

Promoting from within is a smart strategy for a small business owner. It rewards loyalty and motivates new employees by showing them a path to growth exists within your business. But how do you know when employees are ready for supervisory or managerial roles? We’ve all heard stories (or seen them ourselves) of employees who excel at their jobs—until they’re promoted to management, where they flounder and fail. Here are 11 things to ask yourself about any employee you’re considering promoting into a supervisory or management position.

Questions to Ask When Assessing Management Potential

Does the Person Want a Management Role?

This sounds obvious, but sometimes small business owners promote employees who really don’t want to be managers. Maybe the person doesn’t want to boss their former co-workers around, or enjoys the duties of their current job and doesn’t want to give it up. Be sure to ask if the employee is interested in management. (Give them time to think it over—some people take a while to warm up to the idea.)

Is the Person a Good Learner?

Your employee will have to learn new skills to become a successful supervisor or manager. They will also have to keep up with changes in the industry and changes in the jobs of the people they manage. Willingness to learn, intelligence and the ability to learn quickly are key.



Can the Person Teach Others?

It’s easy to set up opportunities for an employee you’re considering for a promotion to train others and see how they do. Perhaps there’s an employee on staff that others naturally ask for help when they can’t figure out how to do something. Natural teachers like this often make good managers.

Is the Person Emotionally Intelligent?

You have an employee who’s amazing at his job—but when promoted to manager, he totally tanks. Often this type of person has stellar job skills but lacks people skills. Managers need to care about what makes others tick so they can bond with them, lead them and motivate them. Look for employees who are sensitive to others’ feelings and curious about what they think.

Is the Person Good at Prioritizing and Managing Time?

Successful managers not only manage their own time well, but also help others set priorities. Look for someone who’s able to keep a clear head while sorting out competing tasks and putting out fires.

Can the Person See the Big Picture?

Good managers don’t focus too much on the small stuff. A manager needs to understand the separate strengths and weaknesses of their team and how the team works together, but must always keep in mind the bigger picture: where the business is going and how you plan to get there.

Is the Person Good at Communicating?

Clear communications are essential to successful management. Good managers are assertive (not aggressive) and straightforward so employees know what’s expected of them. However, they’re also respectful of others and tactful as needed.

Does the Person Welcome Feedback?

A manager’s role is often thankless, so managers must be thick-skinned and able to take criticism. Because the new role will have a learning curve, you need an employee who’s willing to listen to your feedback and ready to learn from it.

How Does the Person Deal with Frustration or Setbacks?

During difficult times, managers must not only handle their own emotions but also stay positive to encourage and motivate their teams. Look for employees who are resilient and upbeat in the face of challenges, and who find practical ways to get over hurdles.

What Other Leadership Roles has the Person Taken?

Look for situations where the person led a group, took ownership of a project or taught someone how to do something. Ask others on staff to share examples.

Does the Person Have Integrity?

A good manager must have good moral character and set an example for employees. This means not taking credit for others’ work or ideas, not cutting corners to get ahead, and not getting involved in gossip or backbiting. Managers must treat others with respect to earn their subordinates’ trust.

Job Interview Photo via Shutterstock

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Rieva Lesonsky


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow her on Google+ and visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

One Reaction

  1. Aira Bongco

    For me, it starts with giving the person minor management jobs like looking over the team when you are not around. From there, you can gauge if the person is good for management or not.

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