“We’re promoting you to become a manager” – Don’t fall into the trap

How many times have you seen an employee promoted into a management position based on good performance?

For some reason, we all seem to think that if you’re performing well, then you need to be promoted. However, businesses across the UK and Europe are now suffering with retention, performance and ER related issues, due to poor management. The purpose of this blog is to look at some of the considerations and challenges that new managers face, what happens to bad managers and what businesses can do to avoid this trap!

The way in which employees are managed internally comes right from the top. If you have a senior leadership team who communicate effectively, acts as a leader and gives clear direction, then you’re much more likely to perform better. The hierarchy that exists within many businesses makes this difficult and is the reason why organisations are moving to flatter structures.


Considerations for new managers:

Your first day as a manager should be one of the best days of your life, as it is a huge milestone and a reward for your excellent work. The reality is, you turn up on Monday morning and you’re now not only responsible for your own work but you’re also leading a team. Sounds easy right? Everyone comes to work, goes home and runs off into the sunset together… not quite!

Challenge 1 : People…

So, your first day as a manager. John has handed his notice in, Ellie has rang in sick and Sarah’s performance has significantly dropped. Your first consideration is where on earth do you find the time to do “management stuff”.  Your second consideration is how do you approach the potentially difficult conversation that you’ve never had with Sarah. What about resourcing the team now that John has left? Here’s just a couple of examples that as a manager you’re going to have to think about.

Challenge 2: Performance…

Thanks to organisations implementing an extra tier within their structure, we now have people who are responsible to simply report up and downwards. Therefore, as a manager you’ll constantly have someone on your back chasing you down on how you and the team are performing. Although Martin is performing well, Sarah isn’t. How are you going to get consistent performance within the team? What happens if you reward and recognise Martin, do you think this is going to motivate Sarah? What if Sarah is facing wellbeing challenges, how are you going to speak about that? That is your next consideration.

Challenge 3: Your style…

Historically many managers practised what could be described as a “management style”. However, due to the needs and wants of the modern workforce, what could be described as a “leadership style” is much more suitable in most businesses. Are you going to be a manager that focuses on short term results so that you can keep your boss happy? Or are you going to become a leader, where your team voluntarily follow you, as you have influenced them? That is your next consideration.


What can happen if you’re a bad manager?

Well first things first, you’ve gone from a highly regarded employee within the business, to someone who is a retention risk. Your personal wellbeing  may be an issue and you no longer love the job that you once did.

Alongside this, your teams performance has dropped. People are leaving because they don’t feel safe, they are not motivated and you’ve lost their respect. Absence may increase and it can take ages for you to hire new members of the team.

Above are just some of the personal and business related challenges that can come off the back of poor management. Can you think of anymore?


The purpose of this blog is by no means looking to deter people from becoming managers. It is aiming to highlight that for some people and/or businesses, promoting employees into management positions is not always the best option.


So, what can you do as a business?

Look, in business we are always going to need managers in order to drive performance, provide structure and manage people effectively. Something that Rencai have been pushing with its clients is to have quarterly management “get togethers” or management onboarding programmes that run for a period of twelve months initially. These can be run weekly, monthly or quarterly and first of all provide a framework and skills development opportunity for managers. However, it is also a good opportunity to share experiences, discuss ongoing challenges and can act as an effective wellbeing tool for those in management positions on the front line.

Something else that we have been pushing with clients is to look at alternative career progression. This really comes down to understanding the motivations of your staff (tools such as motivational maps are useful for this). For instance, if you have an employee who is money motivated, then why not look at a performance plan focused on reward incentives. Although this has an associated cost, what would be the cost if you were to lose this person? Alternatively, if you had someone who was focused on developing new skills, why not let them go to another part of the business for the day? Finally, we are encouraging clients to look at mentoring programmes or becoming internal “champions”, which are much lighter touch than becoming a manager.



In summary, we are always going to need managers in order to run businesses effectively. However, I ask that you do not fall into the trap of promoting someone due to the time that they have spent in your business or when they are performing well. Please take the time to understand the motivation of your employee and if they decide that they do want to become a manager, then provide them with a framework and tools, in order for them to do their jobs effectively, with their added deliverables.


As always keen to hear people’s thoughts and feedback on their own experiences. So please do like/comment/share.

Harry Wright

Employee Engagement and Client Delivery Consultant