Situation: A company has been seeking additional engineers. Unexpectedly, three excellent candidates independently approached the company seeking employment. This opens the door to expand the department and also to create an additional layer of management consistent with the company’s growth objectives. Currently, in this small company all engineers report directly to the CEO. What are best practices adding a layer of management to the company?
Advice from the CEOs:
- Remember that aspiration does not equal talent. There is a big difference between good individual contributors and good managers. The best predictor of managerial success is past successful experience.
- You have a number of senior engineers who have been with you for a long time. Have any expressed an interest in management responsibility? Do any of them have a track record successfully managing teams? Similarly, evaluate your new candidates both in terms of both their ability to contribute as engineers and their prior management experience.
- If you hire one or more of the candidates, start them at the senior engineer level. Let the company and the rest of your engineering team get used to them and observe the quality of their contribution.
- Once you are ready to create a new level of management, make this an open process. Announce your plans to the engineering team, and ask them to approach you individually if they are interested. See who steps up.
- When the time comes to make the promotion, how do you communicate this to the group?
- If you’ve used an open process to evaluate one or more candidates for management, the group will already be prepared when you announce the new structure and promotion.
- An important part of the message is that the company is growing and that there will be ongoing opportunities for talented engineers to earn promotions to management.
- For those interested, start with small steps as leads in team projects. Who if effective at guiding their team? Who is a positive source of energy for the team? Who is helpful and goes above and beyond for other team members and for customers? How do they respond to team obstacles? Observe and coach them along the way.
Key Words: Engineer, HR, Management, Candidate, Aspiration, Talent, Individual Contributor, Manager, Experience, Success, Involve, Time, Announce, Process, Communication, Coach