When identifying a management candidate, do you use tenure, skill, character, relationship to the owner (so…she’s your brother’s daughter?), or all of the above? Where should you begin?First, identify team members who truly want the job, not, “I’ll try to do it” or, “if you want me to,” candidates, but someone who has expressed interest before a position was available. I always keep my eyes peeled for employees who take on responsibilities before they have a management title. So, how do you choose the best management candidate? 

Look for someone who is already doing the work without the title

I worked with a company who set up a booth at a couple trade shows per year. An entry-level employee saw potential and offered help. He set the display, worked the show, and followed up with leads. He began finding more shows, and had the installation department help him build better displays. Eventually, the company gave him one of the installation trucks to use (he’d been setting them up out of his car). Next, the company gave him a salary and he hired an assistant. Five years later, the company was in 200 shows per year. It became their second largest source of leads. What became of the employee? He became the Vice President of the division. Find someone who wants the job.

Someone who always helps others

I believe the best management candidate is a person who truly enjoys helping others. If someone doesn’t get a kick out of watching others grow and improve — they may not be the best candidate. A manager’s responsibility is to hire, train, and retain a team, which meets and exceeds the organization’s objectives. This is accomplished by helping others get what they need and want. A top candidate is someone who serves others.

  • A management candidate should be passionate about the organization, products or services, mission, vision and personnel.
  • Skills such as organization, delegation, follow-through, and problem solving are important, but can be trained.
  • Character traits such as patience, diligence, decisiveness, initiative, responsibility, resourcefulness, dependability and thoroughness should be considered. In the long run, isn’t it more important WHO someone is — not what he or she knows?

How do you choose the best Management Candidate?

That’s an excellent question. How do you choose the best management candidate? Ask, observe, and interview. Look for someone who has taken on responsibility outside of their job description. Keep a close eye on teammates who are always willing to help others on the team.

  • Don’t rely on job skills alone. Job skills are not an indication of people skills.
  • Don’t base promotion on tenure. How long someone has been employed isn’t a compass for management potential.
  • Never cajole someone into taking a leadership position; they have to want it.

Easy Methods for Identifying Potential Leaders

If your organization is growing, where and how will you find your next leaders? Whether you have a company pool to choose from, or you recruit from the outside, identifying leadership candidates may be easier than you think.

Before I share the key to identifying leaders, let’s review some basics.

Candidates should show the following traits:

  • Dependability – Can they be counted on to get the job done?
  • Diligence – Do they put out the effort and energy to complete tasks on time?
  • Enthusiasm – Do they enjoy what they’re doing, the company, and product?
  • Initiative – Do they recognize what needs done and do it?

And one more thing…

Are they positive about the job and organization? Employees are often considered for a promotion based on their ability to perform tasks. They may know the job, but that’s not enough. If they aren’t happy with the job, company, and procedures, they will poison the operation – they already have.

And FINALLY, it’s About People

Leadership is about people. It’s about helping others be the best they can be. If you want to identify future managers, look for those who already help others.

  • Do they help others when their own tasks are complete or do they kill time?
  • How do they handle training and sharing with others, do they enjoy it or is it a nuisance to them?
  • Do they like working as a team and promoting teamwork, or do they prefer to work alone?
  • Do they go out of their way to make new employees feel comfortable, or do they ignore them?
  • Are they happy or are they jealous when others do well?
  • Do they share recognition or do they point fingers?

If you’re interviewing from outside your organization, ask open-ended questions like:

  • When you’d completed assigned tasks in the past, what’s the first thing you did?
  • Tell me about someone you’ve trained and how you went about it
  • Do you prefer to work on a team or alone, and why?
  • In your previous position, what was your role in welcoming new hires?
  • Tell me about an accomplishment of a co-worker that you are proud of

Follow up by asking references and previous employers similar questions, like, “How well did their former employee work with others?”

If you look closely, your next leader may already be in your organization – leading. Are you a leader in your organization? How and when were you given the opportunity to lead?

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a  management training plan? Many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.

Photo by Jase Bloor on Unsplash