Smart Staffing: Replacing a Key Manager

Marcia Zidle

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Have you been in this situation? One of your top managers left suddenly and you’re under the gun to replace her quickly. So you promoted her assistant. That was a disaster. You now need to replace him but want to do it right this time and avoid another costly mistake.

This is an example of the hundreds of ‘management staffing gone wrong’ disasters that I’ve witnessed in working with many companies. In today’s hurry-up and get-it-done work world, many people are unwisely promoted to management positions. Basically, their abilities do not match or are insufficient for the new job role. Before you place someone in a management or supervisory position, take heed of these three key staffing principles:

  1. Not all competent employees make good supervisors or managers.
  2. Some might be more valuable by continuing in their role as the top salesperson, or the great programmer or the most sensitive counselor.

  3. Interviews must be focused with targeted questions. For a management position, develop specific behavioral based questions to decide if the person has good people skills? (Managing is working with people to get results. ); Communicates well? (Managing is dealing with people up, down and sideways in an organization. ); Knows how to handle conflict? (Managing is confronting and solving people problems. )
  4. Finally, in selecting the best candidate, determine the best fit. Can this person do the job? That’s the technical fit – the basic skills to do the job. Does the person have the desire to do the job? That’s the motivation fit – the commitment to perform well. Does the person fit into the team? That’s the culture fit – an important barometer for success.

Marcia Zidle, the ‘people smarts’ coach, works with business leaders to quickly solve their people management headaches so they can concentrate on their #1 job ­ to grow and increase profits. She offers free help through Leadership Briefing, a weekly e-newsletter with practical tips on leadership style, employee motivation, recruitment and retention and relationship management. Subscribe by going to and get the bonus report “61 Leadership Time Savers and Life Savers”. Marcia is the author of the What Really Works Handbooks ­ resources for managers on the front line and the Power-by-the-Hour programs ­ fast, convenient, real life, affordable courses for leadership and staff development. She is available for media interviews, conference presentations and panel discussions on the hottest issues affecting the workplace today. Contact Marcia at 800-971-7619.


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