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Copyright © 2019 Rafael Magaña

How Do You Know Someone Has What It Takes to Be a Manager?

By Rafael Magaña

Finding the right person to hire as manager can be hard work. You need to find someone who is talented at leading people, making budgets work, and talking to upper management. Even harder, the person you identify needs to hit the ground running in all these areas. Often, you won’t even pick someone who has actual experience at the job. In my experience in nonprofits you need to find someone who is competent at what they do. The question is, how do you know that someone who has always been a great employee has what it takes to become a great manager?

1. Make sure that they understand what management is all about

Good managers are good at delegating; they realize that their job is to have others do what they need done. If a new manager doesn’t fully understand the nature of management, they may attempt to do everything on their own. When they delegate, they may attempt to micromanage their team. Before an employee is promoted to a management, it’s important to ask them what they understand about the responsibility of delegating work.

2. Make sure that they have some leadership experience

While a candidate for manager may not have ever been a manager before, they may have leadership experience in other areas of their lives. They may have led a sporting team in school, run a magazine in college, been in charge of a group of volunteers, and so on. These roles can adequately prepare a person for management responsibilities. It’s important to look for such experience.

3. Good managers understand their organization

It’s important for a manager to possess an intuitive idea of the strengths and limitations of their organization. They need a grasp of what the culture of the organization is about, and an idea of the kind of professionals who work there. While only internal management candidates are likely to have such in-depth information, external candidates are usually able to come in with some research.

4. Learning about a management candidate by asking the right questions

When you aim to promote an internal candidate to manager, it’s important to ask a few questions during the interview stage:

• What do you see as the most challenging part of managing a team?

• Do you have experience managing groups outside of work?

• Do your coworkers have a reasonable idea of your management potential?

• If you were promoted, how would you prepare to be a manager?

• How do you focus on the big picture when you need to also focus on everyday tasks?

When you have answers to questions such as these, it is usually possible to come to a reasonable conclusion about whether a candidate possesses the right skills.

Making someone a manager for the first time can be a challenging decision. The idea should be to use insights into their personal lives and their professional lives to judge whether they would be suitable for such a role.


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Copyright June 8, 2019 by Rafael Magaña. Contact for usage license.

Rafael Magaña helps organizations grow. Helps leaders accelerate strategy implementation in their organizations. He specializes in donor-centered Philanthropy. Major Gift Officer Certified-Veritus Scholar. Enjoys writing about leadership and management in nonprofit organizations. Resides in California.

Follow Raphael on LinkedIn and on Twitter: @RafaelMagana

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely my own.

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On a quest to inspire careers, leaders, and community. I write about management, leadership, and personal development. I tell my stories so you can find yours.

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