Many of our listeners seek to advance in their careers by earning a transfer or promotion. If you’re one of these people, it’s in your self-interest to groom someone who can succeed you as the manager when you move on. By developing someone to replace you, you make it easy for your organization to give you your next career step.

In this episode, Larry Sternberg discusses many of the issues you’ll confront as you groom your replacement

  • What if you take over a department and find that nobody currently there is really management material?
  • What if you have an opening on your team, and the qualified candidates can perform that job with excellence, but none of them are management material?
  • What if you are trying to hold out for a candidate who is a potential replacement, but it’s taking a long time and your boss is pressuring you to settle for the great worker instead of continuing to wait for a future manager?

On a related note, moderator Kyle Bruss asks Larry to share his thoughts about company programs designed to identify and develop high-potential employees.

  • What, if anything, should the company tell it’s high-potential people?
  • What if a person in that program doesn’t do well? How do you address their future?
  • What is the risk of creating false expectations for program participants, and how can you avoid it?
  • How do you deal with people who are resentful that they were not selected to participate in the program?

If you’re really good at mentoring and developing people, you might wind up with more qualified managers than you have openings for those managers. Some people will probably leave to get management positions elsewhere. How should you deal with that?

If people are just going to leave why develop them at all? Kyle has a great response:

CFO: “What if we invest a lot of resources in developing people and they leave?”

CEO: “What if we DON’T develop them and they stay?”

Tune in to hear some unconventional wisdom seasoned with a few corny jokes.

Until next time, manage to make a difference every day!

+ Larry Sternberg, J.D. and Kim Turnage, Ph.D.


This post highlights chapters from Managing to Make a Difference (Wiley), a handbook for hitting the sweet spot of middle management. Click here to see posts on previous chapters. Connect with Kim Turnage and Larry Sternberg on LinkedIn to see their latest updates.

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