It’s no secret that managers are key to a high performing organization. And yet the rate of failure is stunning. Research shows 75% of employees in the U.S. feel their direct manager is the worst part of their job. And 65% would rather have a new boss than a pay raise.


So how do you consistently select – and then develop – managers who build a healthy, vibrant culture?

1. Choose them wisely

A high performing individual contributor doesn’t necessarily make a good manager.  Resist the urge to promote someone as a reward for good performance.

Instead, look for evidence that he values teamwork, can lead people, and that he sees the job as serving others – not as an exalted pinnacle.

How can you determine this? Especially with an outside candidate?

Almost anyone can put his best face forward in the span of an interview.  To get a look “under the hood” you need to invest in an assessment that predicts performance. When it comes to developing excellent managers, you want to discover the candidate’s strengths, potential challenges, motives and values. Look for alignment with the values and culture of your organization. It’s worth the investment to remove a lot of the guesswork!

Developing excellent managers

2.  On-board them well

Be sure your new manager understands her success will come through others. Introduce her to every key stakeholder.

Your high performer wants to hit the ground running. Help her see that long-term success comes if she hits the ground listening.

She must take time to understand the organization, the team, and “how things are done here.”

New managers who come in wielding immediate solutions create resistance. Make it clear she needs to listen, and get to know the team, first.  Give her the space and time to do that.

3. Train them deeply

Developing excellent managers isn’t a “one and done” kind of thing. The most effective learning is provided in “chunks,” spaced out over time, and is personalized. It’s not a two or three day one-size-fits-all information dunk!

What does that look like?

In our manager development cohorts, peers come together for a half-day in-person session, every two weeks for three months. Arrange it in whatever way works best for your environment. Just don’t try to cram everything into an intensive download!

Include a personality assessment to build self-awareness.  Aim to help new leaders grow their emotional intelligence so they understand their strengths and weaknesses, and consider how they come across to others.

Provide for practice. It’s not enough to learn theories of management. Managers need to practice new skills, create neural pathways, be willing to stumble a bit, and then try again. Give assignments for practice in the workplace between training sessions. Have them report back to the peer group for accountability, correction, and encouragement.

Schedule private coaching. This is especially helpful for exploring skill gaps or relationships that are challenging. Customized, confidential support at the beginning of a manager’s career can be profoundly impactful.

Developing excellent managers

4. Coach them continuously

Provide on-going coaching that’s grounded in a valid assessment of their abilities.

What’s the best way to do this?

Combine an objective personality assessment with peer- and subordinate-level 360 reviews. Help them see themes across the assessment and reviews, identify more effective ways of working, and hold them accountable for practicing until the behavior sticks.

Cycling through this assessment and coaching process over time creates true change with a positive impact on the organization.

How are you doing?

  • Are you identifying the right people for leadership roles?
  • Providing consistent, quality learning opportunities?
  • Using assessments, 360 reviews and coaching?

If so, fantastic!

If not, rest assured you’re not alone. But don’t continue to rest! Take these 4 secrets and put them into practice sooner rather than later! We can help.

Developing excellent managers is imperative to your organization’s success. If you have high potential employees, consider our Launch! program. Registration is open for the fall. Just fill out the information below to learn more. 

We would also be happy to talk with you about private coaching – click here to set up a conversation.


Introducing Launch!

An innovative manager development cohort