Businesses up and down the country have a wealth of talent. Recognising that talent, developing them to be the best that they can be is major part of any growth strategy for that business. Businesses take the best talented people and promote them into more senior roles. This is great, when it works… Sadly, the development that comes with those roles is sometimes a little too late and managers up and down the country are beginning to realise that promotion is not all it’s cracked up to be!

This commonly known as the Peter Principle. It’s almost 40 years old, but the Peter Principle is as relevant now as ever. Invented by Dr Laurence Peter at the University of Southern California in the 1968 book of the same name, the Peter Principle explains that organisations promote people who excel – until they are put in a job they can’t do. In short, they have become accidental managers…

My dad has always explained this as being promoted above your own level of incompetency…

Are you an accidental manager?

Have you had a career that has been so well noticed that now you have been promoted in to managing a team? A team that expect you to support them, coach them and drive their performance to get the outstanding results that you once had. During this, what is happening to your performance?

Many accidental managers struggle through, never quite sure why they are unhappy about what’s happening, quite sure that their own work is suffering.

Becoming a manager is a completely different skills set to the skills set from before, such as dealing with conflicts and communicating more formally, coaching, understanding and driving performance.

A promotion to a new role with new levels of responsibility also means a change in mindset, habits and thinking. There’s a different set of questions to be asked. What are the implications of different performance levels on daily operations and standards? Who do you have to encourage, who do you have to chat to and who can you just tell it like it is?

The pressure to establish themselves with a new peer group and take on the role of managing people who are in the old peer group can be daunting. Accidental managers risk losing the relationships and networks they have worked hard on building previously.

Here are our top five tips for the accidental manager

  1. Acceptance – Accepting your accidental manager status is the first stage of moving towards being a brilliant manager. This is the main thing that will support your mindset change. For whatever reason the learning curve for an accidental manager is a steep one. But it can be climbed, and your mindset is key.
  2. Know the expectations – You’re a new manager, the new manager needs to explore expectations, understand what the important tasks are, know the demands of everyones role, identify what key relationships are in the business and look out for the hidden rules. What is the culture like now your a manager?
  3. Learn your skill gap: Find out what your current skills set is and look at what the skill set for the new manager role is. Now you know what the gap between where you are and where you want to be is. You can also get some feedback from the people around you, that peer group and your team, to get a fuller understanding of the gap.  Know your current skills set, know your goals, and possible blind spots.
  4. Develop your skills: Sign up for training and development programmes, get feedback from trusted colleagues, spend time observing how other people do the things a manager should do. This will offer you a wealth of opportunity to compare yourself with others and find your way of doing it.
  5. Ask for help: It is important to pay attention to the previous four options and also, find yourself a mentor. Mentors have been there and done it and made all the mistakes that you are going to make. They can be an open door when you need someone to talk to.

Above all, remember, being an accidental manager is just a step away from being a new manager with is just a step away from being the business leader you can, and will be.