Should you promote your top IC to manager? (Scratchpad)
In a recent interview, I helped argue the case for (and against) the idea.
Companies often push their top salespeople into management positions with the hope of retaining them and training their team to perform at a high level. However, if the salesperson isn't a good fit for the role, the results can be disastrous, as 75% of sales managers fail to excel in their role. Rushing into title-chasing promotions without considering the overall revenue team can lead to chaotic failure, so it's important for companies to approach promotions thoughtfully and provide adequate training and development to their managers.
I had an opportunity to sit down with Scratchpad to talk more in-depth about this topic, Some key excerpts from the article:
“Some reps are pushed into management,” says Gary Kagan, Co-Founder at JoinLeap.io (and former Top IC). “This is an unfortunate problem that is very common. ‘You’re doing great, we want you to lead the team!’” But if the top performer doesn’t have the right expectations of the role, it can lead to disastrous results. Not only have you removed the most tangible revenue stream in the company, but if they’re not a good fit, then they won’t last as a manager either.
“If you have a top rep who’s truly interested in management, that’s gold because if their motivations align with the company, it’s the dream scenario,”
“You need to sit down with your top rep to make sure they want to be in management, know what’s expected of them in the role, and understand what the compensation is going to be,” says Kagan. “If you’re a top rep, you’re making more than your manager and that’s how it should be. So are you ready to take that pay cut? Are you ready for the boring stuff? Are you able to coach not just the B Players, but the C Players on your team who might not be as motivated as you are?”
“The lone wolf salesperson is a lone wolf for a reason. That’s not the person you want leading the team,” says Kagan. If your top performer wants to be a manager, “there are different types of top performers, and you need to determine what type of rep that person is.”
Say you have someone who has finished at the top of the leaderboard and thinks they’re in line for a promotion. Leadership is scared that the rep will leave if they’re not promoted, and the IC thinks that they deserve a promotion or they’re going to entertain outside opportunities. What do you do?
I suggest reading the complete article to understand my approach of offering a glimpse of management to top-performing individual contributors without requiring them to leave their current position, giving them an opportunity to gauge their suitability for management in a practical setting.