Do you place internal job advertisements for managerial roles within your business, hoping that many of your high-potential workers will apply? Do you find that many of them look blankly at the ad, move on, and fail to apply? Worse still, do these same workers grumble about lack of career development or even leave to take up managerial roles at other companies?
If you recognize this situation, there may be an image problem — or an actual problem –with the middle management experience in your firm that is negatively impacting your ability to attract internal talent. A lack of of internal talent will dent your competitive edge, as studies show that internal hires perform better, cost less, and are more profitable than external hires.
If you find that staff have a genuine fear of management in your business, you cannot afford to ignore the problem. You may be consoled by the knowledge that you are not alone in this predicament: according to a CareerBuilder Survey, 52 percent of workers don’t want to move into management and are doing just fine in their current role. This means that, at least in part, you may be caught up in a wider anti-management trend, one that potentially stems from the high-profile failures in management seen during the recent economic crisis.
Nevertheless, you do need to take action to defeat this antipathy toward management – if it exists in your business – if you are to realize the full potential of your workforce. I have identified several strategies that can help you galvanize your workforce and re-engage top performers with the career ladder in your business.
1. Remove the Fear of Failure
Don’t play “Chutes and Ladders.” The risk of failure is a major deterrent that prevents many employees from aiming for managerial roles. High-performing employees can move into management positions, crash and burn quickly, and find themselves tossed out without a parachute.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Show workers that failed managers are not ejected from the organization unceremoniously, but are treated with respect and given the option and support to move sideways or downwards to a role in which they can be a star again. Let staff members know there’s a parachute and a soft landing if the management career isn’t right for them.
2. Hire More Dissatisfied People
The CareerBuilder survey mentioned above shows that workers who are satisfied with what they have tend not to shoot for the stars. There’s nothing wrong with that: it’s a healthy mindset and a valid pathway to inner peace, even if it isn’t staunchly capitalist. However, having too many satisfied types will harm your talent pipeline. Take a good look at the hiring process and start to swing the balance a little in favor of hiring more ambitious and dissatisfied candidates.
3. Job Sharing and Four-Day Management Roles
Another big reason why people don’t want to manage is the perception that they’ll need to sacrifice their work-life balance and start putting in 50-hour workweeks. Can you try a management job-sharing program, or build three-four day part-time management options that make it unnecessary for employees to sacrifice work-life balance when they become managers?
4. Prepare Employees for the Transition
Many workers lack the confidence or feel they lack the competence to move into managerial roles. So, you should provide managerial training and support from the outset to encourage more candidates to apply for these positions.
If you adopt these strategies in whole or in part, you should be able to increase the flow and range of internal applicants for your managerial roles.
I’d love to hear from people who are reluctant to move into management and why that is. I’d also like to hear from managers who have been able to encourage reluctant managers to move into management roles and how they achieved that!