From Managing Others to Managing Managers

Introduction to Passage Two – From Managing Others to Managing Managers

Passage Two is the transition from Managing Others to Managing Managers.

When I think back over my career milestones, getting promoted to District Manager ranks pretty high! I finally had my own group of stores and a large team that I could lead. I can still recall the energy, passion and enthusiasm for this role and my team. They were an amazing group of managers! But I had to “figure it out as I went”, there wasn’t school about “How to Be a Successful District Manager”.

In today’s post, I want to continue guiding us through The Leadership Pipeline book because they have done a great job laying out the pitfalls and what it takes to succeed from Passage One to Passage Two.

Passage One – A Refresher

In last week’s post, we talked about Passage One, where one moves from Managing Self (think Sales Associate) to Managing Others (Think Assistant or Store Manager). If you haven’t read this post, you can do so here. It will set context for this post.

When someone is promoted to a District Manager, or a manager overseeing other managers, there is an assumption that they have mastered Passage One; that they learned to value managerial work. This means they believe that making time for others, coaching, planning, measuring work, are all valuable and important to the success of themselves and the organization. They learned that while tasks well done give instant gratification, leadership work is far more meaningful and fulfilling.

What if there wasn’t mastery at Passage One and now the manager has moved into Passage Two?


Keys to Passage Two

I hate to even share this next fact, but truth is that Passage Two is often completely ignored from a training perspective. There is an assumption that the manager is ready to be a District Manager because they successfully operated a store. While they may be really good at managing a store and a team, at the store manager level, you are still, in many cases, a “doer”.

In Passage Two, you are a PURE manager. Divesting yourself of individual tasks is vital here and can be hard to let go of things that give a sense of accomplishment and success. The most important skills that have to be mastered are being able to select talent to enter Passage One, assign managerial tasks and leadership work, measure their progress and coach. This is also where strategic thinking skills become important. In Passage Two, you have a responsibility to think about the broader organization.

Where the Pipeline gets Clogged

If the Passage Two leader hasn’t mastered the skills required for success in Passage One and are already in Passage Two, There are multiple issues that rear their heads…

  • Are the Passage Two leaders hiring people with technical skills who can get stuff done but perhaps don’t have the leadership skills who get things effectively done through others?
  • Are they rewarding the wrong behaviors?

There are many more potential issues but these are two examples. If the answer is yes to either of these, this means they will be promoting people who may not be able to get past a certain leadership point in their career thus further clogging the pipeline of talent in the organization. But the good news is, this is fixable…

Time to Jump In!

Own the Success of YOUR Passage One Managers

Ask yourself: Are my Passage One managers effectively understanding and executing their role?

Review the following skills and work with your Passage One managers. This will help you build a pipeline of talent.

  1. Select and Train Store Managers (Don’t assume they know what to do to be effective in this Passage One role)
  2. Hold them accountable for managerial work
  3. Reward effective coaching and leadership
  4. Have the courage to remove leaders who cannot execute to the Passage One standard (partner with HR)

Own YOUR Success

As a Passage Two leader, ensure your own success by being aware of the differences between Passage One and Passage Two.

Talk to your boss. Have them clearly articulate how they view the skills, time requirements and work values of your Passage Two role. Just reading the job description won’t be enough for you to be successful.

Coaching is the biggest part of the Passage Two role. If you aren’t spending at least 50% of your time coaching and developing your managers, start now.

If you are working in an organization that is going through significant change and you find yourself resisting the change, ask for help. When you can fully understand the strategy and “why” behind the changes, it will help you lead through them instead of resist them.

I am rooting for you!

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