The Journey to Managing Others


The journey to managing others can be a challenging one. The promotion to manager is a significant leap. We believe that we have mastered the work and are ready to lead others to even greater success. Yet the move from being an individual contributor to managing others is where many managers fail. Good news is, we don’t have to.

As we continue to unpack what it takes to have an endless supply of talent, I am digging into Passage One from the Leadership Pipeline. Mastering Passage One is vital for a store manager to build their pipeline. Managers promoted for the wrong reasons will not only ensure a lack of talent, but it will also give you a reputation for promoting people when they aren’t ready.

Has this happened to you?

See if this has ever happened to you. You have a motivated associate who wants to be a manager. They seem to have mastered all the work that is assigned to them and they complete the work within the timeframe given. The quality of the work is good and they consistently meet the objectives. Sound good so far?

You continue to give them more responsibility and they continue to execute to the expectation broadening their skills. In your eyes, they are “promotable”. The result of this is they get promoted to assistant manager. This is called Passage One. Most fail here. Why? Because the highest performing people don’t like to change, they want to keep doing things the way they have done them. Why? In their mind, it is what made them successful. It is what got them promoted in the first place. But the truth is they need to make a behavioral transition.

What skills are needed at Passage One?

The skills required to be successful at this passage are actually very different from what they were doing as an individual contributor. Managing others is different than managing yourself. You need to be able to Plan, Delegate, Follow-up, Coach, Motivate, and even Measure the work. This means you have to reallocate your time to be able to do all of these new components to your role. You cannot take on all the tasks yourself. It goes from doing work to getting work done through others.

But I like doing the work…

One of the largest issues is the newly promoted manager still likes to do the work while there is a batch of new work, which they feel less confident doing, that needs to be done. Managers must learn to allocate their time to the new components of their role while still doing some work that they are expected to complete. As a manager in a retail store, this is especially true. If there is only one or two people working and one of them is a manager, you may not have anyone to delegate work to. This means you must be able to flex between doing the work when you are the only one who can do it to delegating when there are other team members available.

Values are the hardest change to make

While skills and time are important to success, the hardest change involves values. That is, valuing the managerial work and not just tolerating it. You have to believe that the work is important…delegating, motivating, coaching, all very important values to the manager’s role and if they don’t value it and believe in its importance, failure is almost certain. This change in values…this is the hard one to measure.

What does all this mean to me and my pipeline of talent?

So what does all this mean to you? As the store manager, before promoting someone, you must look for more than successful completion of delegated tasks on time and on point. You actually need to give them the opportunity to delegate work, measure work even motivate people who don’t actually report to them. These are the necessary skills they will need as a manager.

If you have already promoted these team members and they are struggling in their new role, then you must reinforce the shift that is required in what your new manager believes to be true and important. Remember that what someone believes to be true drives how they behave and how they behave drives their results.

“what I believe drives how I behave and how I behave drives my results.”

Time to jump in

Time to look at your leadership team. Hopefully a few weeks back you plotted your team on the bell curve so looking at the talent on your team through this lens should be easy.

Evaluate your managers, maybe even yourself. Have they made the transition to Passage One – from leading themselves to leading others successfully?

Are they demonstrating the skills, time requirements and values required in this new role of managing others? Do they view the new role as vital to their success or are they clinging to the “doing” that got them here? If not, what do you need to do to help them succeed in their role of leading others? If you need help, I am here. Email me at

Rooting for you,

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