By using mobility, companies can enhance their talent pool. In this article we will focus on managerial positions and see how to identify the right manager from an operational talent pool. It is obviously impossible to give an exact definition of what a good manager is. However, we can address what is common to any managerial mission, such as the management of a workforce and the management of operational staff.

What defines managerial potential?

When we think of a manager, we tend to immediately gravitate towards leadership and being able to direct teams. However, there are other important qualities that should not be overlooked when searching for a manager.

The qualities to identify in a manager

Managing well means, above all, knowing how to involve your teams and your talent pool. This will help motivate employees and promote effective group dynamics. Then, a good manager will be humble, honest and know how to communicate a vision or judgment effectively to each person. They must also give meaning to what they do so that they can transmit that energy to the other employees, to motivate them and ensure strong team cohesion.

Other managerial profiles

In general, there is the “official” manager and the other employees who effectively manage on a daily basis without having a manager’s title. There is even talk of unconscious management, between senior and more junior employees, and sometimes of mentoring that looks like management.

Identifying management within your talent pool

During an annual review or performance review, an employee should able to express their desire for mobility and professional development, in particular towards a managerial position. This is really the key moment between the employee and their direct manager to address this subject. Then, it is a question of being able to formalise this request so that it can be further examined and acted upon effectively.

Taking a Talent Management approach, we can also identify the candidate’s potentiel and quickly recognise someone in our talent pool who would perfectly fit in a managerial position, either immediately or in the medium-term.

What skills should you value in a manager?

As mentioned before, leadership, a cohesive force and humility are soft skills that should be sought in a manager. There is more and more discussion on interpersonal skills in the context of internal and external recruitment. However, another crucial issue for a potential manager is that of hard skills specific to their job. Should you focus on technical skills or soft skills?

The legitimacy of technical skills

We can’t ignore that there is a certain legitimacy in the technical competence of a manager. Of course we would expect a manager to be able to guide an employee in their job and answer their questions effectively. Hard skills are essential for good management, especially with regard to team performance. 

However, soft skills are also crucial to being a good manager. They may be present naturally, but they can also be developed with support and professional training.

How do you identify the best manager in your talent pool?

Results are often the first signal in identifying talent internally. Some employees who have performed well and achieved impressive results will stand out thanks to their hard skills. Often they are promoted because they have acquired a natural authority through their credibility in technical competence.

The trap with top performers

Today, top performers are defined as the most effective people. This also applies to operational profiles who excel in what they do. We tend to trust these high performers as ideal managers on the pretext that they achieve results. However, does a top performer really equate to the best manager from the talent pool?

In fact, this is a common misconception and pitfall. It is quite common to believe that there are only vertical evolutions in management,  while many possibilities for horizontal evolutions exist. Today, it is a handicap to assume that a high-performing employee will equate to a good manager.

Run your internal mobility like external recruitment

Internal mobility should be run very similarly to your external recruitment. It is up to the employees to position themselves when an opening for a managerial position arrives. As in a hiring interview, the individual will have to demonstrate and convince a group of people that they are the right person for the job. Motivation of course remains an important element to properly assess the individual. In other words, appointing someone deliberately as manager, without even consulting them, is not the best course of action.


The risks of resorting to horizontal evolution

If the development process is not voluntary, it is very possible to demotivate and disengage the employee. When you pass on a good performer for a managerial position, they may feel at a loss and as a result you could lose them. This leads to questioning and a feeling of failure, especially if their only options for evolution are into what they might consider lesser roles

These situations often arise due to poor management on the HR side, and this is why it is important to guide, listen to and advise each employee on their prospects for mobility and development
To ensure that you have identified the right person for a manager role, your company could also employ probationary periods. For a few months, the employee is placed on the job, understanding the terms of this trial period. If the person feels good in the position and fits the role well, you can confirm the evolution and offer a new contract. And if it doesn’t work out, the employee returns to their previous position. The return is then constructive and made with full understanding and deliberation, so there is less risk of losing the talent. The event becomes not a moment of failure, but a learning moment to grow from.