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Why the “Rock Star” should not necessarily be the next supervisor

, July 11, 2013, 0 Comments

We all know the employee who consistently performs at a high level in their job.  They out-produce their peers, come in early, stay late and pick up the slack when needed. I’ve heard these types of employees referred to as “rock stars”.  They are great at what they do, just about everyone knows who they are and they are usually well liked by many.

Unfortunately, “rock stars” often times get promoted on those reasons alone, even if they have not demonstrated the ability to lead others.  Becoming a supervisor or manager is about so much more than having the same work experience as those who will be reporting to you.  Just because someone does a job really well does not automatically mean that they can manage a department of people that do that same job.

Supervising is less about the tasks that team members perform and more about dealing with many different personalities, resolving conflict, making difficult decisions, holding employees accountable, giving recognition, setting expectations and inspiring high levels of performance.

  And trust me when I say that all of these things are easier said than done.  If the “rock star” has never had any hands on experience with any of these things, then promoting them can be a recipe for failure.

They may have gotten along well with their fellow employees, when they had the same job responsibilities.  But the employees’ have different expectations; as well they should, when a former peer becomes the supervisor.  The team members are now depending on this person for support & guidance, whereas it’s unlikely that was the case before the promotion.  In my opinion and experience, it is best to give your “rock star” the opportunity to lead the team well before there’s an opening for promotion.

First it should be when you’re available to coach them through different circumstances, then later, on your off days or during your vacation.  If you are reading this and you are the “rock star”, you should ask your supervisor for opportunities to lead the team.  As with anything, practice makes perfect, and when it comes to business, it’s best to practice when the stakes are low.

During that practice time, find out what leadership skills the “rock star” needs to improve upon or if they just are not cut out to be a supervisor.