from R&D Innovator Volume 3, Number 11
to Manager Requires Changing Gears
Adams is senior consultant and Dr. Shields is president and
general manager of Hay Management Consultants in Arlington,
Virginia, specializing in aligning human resources with the
technology and design of organizations.
was the best research scientist in the group at company X.
His ideas had an ideal combination of creativity and
practicality, he kept abreast of current research, and his own
work was regularly published.
He worked well with other researchers, often sharing ideas
and helping them when necessary.
his record of performance led to a promotion as R&D manager.
However, within six months, his department was in chaos.
Although Tom was regularly working 60- to 70-hour weeks,
his staff was at cross purposes, deadlines were missed, and morale
burned out, and embarrassed by the prospect of a demotion, Tom
resigned. Although he
soon found a position as team leader in another organization, the
setback was painful for him--and expensive to company X, which
lost a great contributor.
think it’s a major reason the failure rate among senior managers
over the past 10 years. This
rate has, by some estimates, exceeded 50 percent.
someone is moving from a research position into management, a
dramatic change in attitude and behavior is required.
The roles and accountabilities of the individual
contributor and manager-leader are quite different.
Yet curiously, most people are promoted into managerial
positions based solely on
their superior performance as an individual contributor.
Individual Contributor to Manager-Leader
are the responsibilities of an individual contributor, say a lab
scientist or an engineer? Although
the specific job determines whether timeliness, quality,
creativity, or efficiency is cardinal, the individual is
invariably responsible for the performance of his or her own
tasks. Most jobs
carry varying degrees of interpersonal requirements--perhaps
collaborating in idea generation or task completion. Nevertheless, the emphasis is on individual input.
responsibilities of the manager have traditionally focused on
bottom-line results: revenue
or profit, product development, and delivery of products or
services. That is to
say, performance in the past was based solely on the outcomes over
a relatively short term. Standard
management tasks included planning, organizing, directing, and
we tell you that the manager's job has changed?
Today's manager must provide leadership to the organization
by living its values and
energizing its members. Managers
must create an environment where change is successful, where
people are innovative, and where customers feel satisfied. In other words, what’s needed today is a
manager-leader--someone who displays quite different behaviors and
skills than the individual contributor.
manager-leader must understand the new definition of leadership,
which was recently expressed by Robert Hogan, from the University
of Tulsa, as “...persuasion,
not domination; persons who can require others to do their bidding
because of their power are not leaders.
Leadership only occurs when others willingly adopt, for a
period of time, the goals of a group as their own.
Thus, leadership concerns building cohesive and
goal-oriented teams; there is a causal and definitional link
between leadership and team performance.”
must recognize how job requirements change as people move from
individual contributor to manager-leader, and must then develop
and promote people who can willingly accommodate these changes.
Individuals, by this paradigm, must understand
themselves—their motives, traits, skills, and values—and then
determine a career path that will provide the greatest opportunity
for personal success and satisfaction.
following table contrasts the competencies associated with
superior performance among individual contributors in scientific
or engineering organizations—versus those of manager-leaders.
Skills and Attitudes of Individual Contributors and
Initiative: does more than a job requires and acts in anticipation
(before a request or the pressure of events compels the action).
Concern for Quality
and Order: combines
a high standard of excellence with fear of failure; monitors tasks
and outcomes to be sure they meet standards; checks up in the
manner of a good auditor or inspector; doesn’t let critical
attention to detail interfere with creativity.
Cooperation: intends to work cooperatively with others, to be
part of a team.
is motivated to expand and use technical knowledge and to
distribute work-related knowledge to others.
collects and uses information relevant to work problems or
opportunities; gets several inputs; investigates issues and facts
can break complex problems, processes or projects into
components, then organize the parts systematically; can set
priorities rationally; compare models or options, and identify
Directiveness: makes others comply with standards and remembers the
long-term good of the organization; can tell people what to do in
a tone ranging from firm to demanding.
The key is knowing when
to use directiveness, and to adapt the tone to the situation, so
direction is understood but does not sap motivation.
takes the role of leader of a team or group; wants to lead
others; creates an energizing vision; inspires the group to
interact as a cohesive whole and focus on shared goals; maximizes
the contributions of all members.
regularly coaches and fosters the development of others;
does not just rely on formal training programs.
can see patterns or connections between situations that are
not obviously related; can identify key or underlying issues in
complex situations; uses creative, conceptual, and inductive
reasoning to develop novel concepts.
has an impact on others; can influence and persuade;
can appeal to others’ interests, obtain buy-in for ideas and
actions; can strategize how to get difficult ideas or
opportunities accepted without resorting to authority (a useful
skill with peers or superiors, outsiders, or employees unsure
about their tasks.)
and maintains a network of contacts, both inside and outside the
organization, with people who may be able to supply information,
assistance, or support for work-related goals; builds and
maintains friendly relationships with people who are, or might be,
useful in achieving work goals.
Commitment; “Business Mindedness”:
aligns personal behavior, and behavior of others, with
organizational needs and goals; promotes organizational goals and
meets organizational needs (i.e., recognizing the suitability of
an innovative new product to the organization’s primary market,
and understanding the likelihood of acceptable profit margins in
production. These two
tasks are particularly challenging when working with specialized
scientists and technologists, who seldom contact customers).
and individuals can take practical and effective steps to create
successful management placements.
The steps outlined below have proven successful in helping
organizations and individuals facilitate this transition:
The organization defines and articulates behavioral
(competency) requirements for individual contributors and
Career paths are identified for various lines of
progression, allowing individuals to optimally prepare themselves.
Career planning helps employees identify their ideal career
track, which may require the establishment of senior technical
positions on a parallel track to managerial positions.
Competency-based selection and promotion processes ensure
that incumbents’ deeper characteristics match job requirements
(leading to greater success and higher satisfaction).
Development opportunities are designed and delivered to
ensure that necessary competencies are developed in people
selected for those jobs.
the most important result of using this method for ensuring smooth
that we must begin anticipating which experiences and competencies
will be required in a job several years before we apply for (or
accept) it. The
organization must likewise begin preparing people for managerial
jobs at least two levels below the target job.
fruits of this preparatory process will be realized over the long
term, as the organization experiences more innovation, greater
efficiency, higher morale, better customer satisfaction, and