Becoming a boss isn’t easy.
You go from being evaluated on your technical skills to being judged on your people-management skills, and possibly from working all day at your desk to spending hours on hours in meetings.
It’s a jarring transition for many new managers, said Bharath Jayaraman — but it shouldn’t be.
Jayaraman is the vice president of people at financial technology company Paxos; he’s previously worked in human resources at companies including Facebook and Amazon. Jayaraman shared with me several ideas for better preparing employees to be managers.
One option is to give that person some informal management experience.
“Never make anyone a people manager without making them a mentor for a new hire on your team first,” Jayaraman said. “Set very clear expectations that, as a mentor, [their] role is to help them navigate the company effectively and help them understand where they’re blocked.”
Another option Jayaraman proposed is to organize groups of people who have expressed some desire to be managers and have them go through more formal training. Every few months, a new cohort of would-be managers might review and discuss case studies, or work with coaches and mentors.
“When people go through that and then say, ‘Hey, this is not what I thought I would do as a manager; I’m not sure that’s for me,’ that is a great outcome.”
Research suggests that most American workers don’t, in fact, aspire to be managers. A survey by professional staffing firm Addison Group, cited on Bloomberg, found that just one-third of American workers believe that becoming a manager can advance their careers.
Instead, one expert told Bloomberg, many young workers today want to be “knowledge experts,” as opposed to people managers.
The problem is that, at some companies, people-management seems like a natural next step in their careers, even if they’re not particularly inspired by the idea.
“You hire adults, you treat them like adults,” Jayaraman said. “You tell them what it means to be a manager and let them make a decision about whether they want to do it or not, which is probably the most effective way to sort of minimize some of the early mistakes that a lot of people make.”