Software Executive Magazine

OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

Software Executive magazine helps software executives grow their businesses by showcasing the business best practices of our readers, executives from established and innovative software companies.

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Why Great Employees checklist of tasks they should be doing each day or week. For example, ask new managers to spot check an em- ployee's work from the day prior. Or ask new managers to learn something new about an employee. Sit with the new manager once a week initially, and get feedback on what did and did not work. This also sets the example for how new managers can help those they are supervising. GREAT EMPLOYEES OFTEN LEARN THROUGH INSTINCT When people are managing employees, there is often an element of teaching, particularly in the world of soft- ware, where skillsets continually need to shift. Often, great employees are great at what they do because they learn through instinct. They pick up on skills quickly and can work rapidly with few mistakes. Now add the chal- lenge of trying to teach something that you have never been trained on because it comes easily to you. Teaching is not easy to begin with. New managers will need teaching guidelines. Start with any single piece of work documentation that doesn't exist or needs to be updated. Have the manager create or update it. Writing it down will force them to think through every step and how best to communicate the process to someone else. From there, have the man- ager train the employee, and make sure the manager and employee reconvene to talk through any mistakes, issues, or sticking points. Giving new managers a train- ing process provides step-by-step context for some- thing they likely have not been through before. GREAT EMPLOYEES WON'T ALWAYS HAVE THE SAME PERSONALITY AS PREVIOUS MANAGERS Not everyone is created equal. This can be a tough lesson for those who fall into the top 10 percent group. Under- standing that not everyone thinks the same way as you do is often not intuitive. Great, self-starter employees may prefer little supervision and to just be kept updated on what pertains to them. They are then promoted and become responsible for 15 technicians, who each think differently and value different types of communication. This is one of the top reasons why it is so difficult to replace a manager who hired most of their employees. We gravitate strongly toward individuals who value the same things we do or interact in a similar way to our- selves. New managers have a steep learning curve as they get to know each employee's personality. To help address this, start with having the new manager ask each em- ployee what three things they value most at work. It can be anything from personal space, to being kept informed, to learning. Encourage new managers to keep it simple. The reasons we think employees should be promoted to management are the same reasons they may struggle in management. All is not lost, though. Awareness of the challenges that come with promotion is a start. S have always excelled at everything I do. My re- port cards were full of A's and every boss has loved me. I was a stellar employee. So why did I struggle as a first-time manager?" This scenario repeats itself in technology companies around the world. People are hired, they turn out to be great employees, the company grows, and they are pro- moted to managerial positions. Unfortunately, hopes for those individuals as managers fade as performance falls far below expectations, particularly when compared to their performance in their prior roles. Why is this? GREAT EMPLOYEES OFTEN DON'T NEED SUPPORT When employees are great at their job, they need very little support. They fall into the top 10 percent of the 10/70/20 rule. Ten percent of employees need very lit- tle supervision and will excel with very little guidance. Seventy percent of employees need some support and supervision to improve and grow. Twenty percent of employees are not suited for their positions for one reason or another and, regardless of how much sup- port they are provided, likely will not move up to the 70 percent group. When an employee has been in the top 10 percent group, it is not instinctual to support or supervise oth- ers. Managers, however, spend at least half of their time performing these functions. Following up, verifying, holding people accountable, and having difficult con- versations are all skills new managers have never had to do before. It's likely they have never experienced them personally because there was never a need for it. Provide new managers with guidelines, such as a daily I K R I S T E N M c A L I S T E R K R I S T E N M c A L I S T E R has spent the last 10 years teaching companies how to leverage executives for transitional situations such as high growth and turnarounds. She is a national speaker and is published on topics ranging from operations and productivity to talent management and the contingent workforce. She is the co-author of the book How I Fired My Boss and Made More Money. Rarely Make Great Managers LEADERSHIP LESSONS Insights By K. McAlister WHY GREAT EMPLOYEES RARELY MAKE GREAT MANAGERS SOFTWAREEXECUTIVEMAG.COM OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017 42

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