Should Your Promote Your Star Employee to Management?

Hollywood-walk-of-fameHave you noticed how few Hall of Fame baseball players end up as managers after their careers end?

In the same way, if you look at the managers who have made it to the Hall of Fame, you aren’t going to find any of the game’s biggest names. A recent managerial inductee is Tony La Russa, who I enjoyed following for years as he guided the St. Louis Cardinals through many championship seasons.

However, as an infielder in the major leagues, La Russa’s lifetime .199 batting average doesn’t even put him over the Mendoza Line.

The problem with great players is that they can’t relate to the average players. They expect everyone to live up to their standards. The same problem can pop up when you’re selecting managers for your small business. Also, different business situations require different managerial strengths. Let’s look at some attributes that will help you determine who on your staff should do well when promoted to manager.


All managers should have some leadership skills, however, there are some environment swhen it needs to be one of the manager’s strongest skills. If you’re in a turn-around situation, opening a new area of business or are experiencing difficulties in one department, strong leadership is required.

Organizational skills

Good organizational skills will be needed at times in any managerial position, however sometimes they are critical. If  you sense that efficiency is suffering, you need to bring in a manager who can see past the clutter and get the machine running smoothly.

Ability to control

Are personnel issues holding back your company? Leadership and organization are required, but the ability to maintain control is highlighted. To keep control, you need someone who can have frank conversations with employees without losing his or her cool, which brings us to the next quality.

Proper temperament

Anger has no place in management, although almost everyone suffers the occasional bout of anger. Sometimes “star” employees are also the most passionate employees. They can have a difficult time controlling their emotions. If you’re planning to promote such an individual, before you make the move, have a long talk about temperament and make sure the person knows your expectations.

Communication skills

Excellent communication skills are a hallmark of most great managers. If you’re in a technical industry, your most skilled techie might be your best employee. However, this person may have very poor communication skills – and no desire to develop them. Don’t promote your tech wizard just because he or she has been so valuable as an employee.

Teaching nature

Along the small business growth curve, there are times when you want to replicate certain people. If you have a star employee who has a natural ability to teach others, this person could make a good manager. On the flip side, there are people who like to keep their special knowledge to themselves to maintain their superiority. Watch out for them, even if they excel at their jobs.

Choosing the right individuals for promotion is as much an art as a science. Keep these qualities in mind and try to avoid a real-life demonstration of the Peter Principle: Promoting people to the level of their incompetence.

One final word of advice. When you have “Hall of Fame” employees, you can find other ways to advance their careers rather than pulling them into management. You can give them special projects and additional responsibilities that expand your business and take advantage of their special talents and energy.

Sponsored by AT&T

Image: By Rob Hooft at nl.wikipedia [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-2.5], from Wikimedia Commons.