Q: I was recently given the greenlight to add an Assistant Store Manager to my team. Our top sales person is interested in the role, but has never held a leadership position previously. What should I consider when making these types of decisions?

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A: First of all, congratulations on receiving approval for the new role! Business is growing and that can only be a good thing. You’re right to carefully consider this appointment, especially since it’s a new role for your team and whomever you hire will set the expectations for the role down the line. You’re also right to pause when looking at promoting an employee into a skillset they have yet to exhibit. Just because someone is an incredibly gifted sales person, doesn’t mean they are also going to be a gifted leader. Fortunately, there are a few things you can look at to determine if your employee is, in fact, next-level ready.

Analyze their current success

First, take a look at what makes them the best sales person today. If you haven’t taken the time to intentionally observe them in action in a while, do so during your next shift together. Take note of how they build rapport with customers, how they overcome objections and how they deal with dissatisfied or upset customers. Be sure to look at both qualitative data points like behavior and quantitative data points such as sales, as well as other factors such as how often they’re on time for work. Consider other responsibilities besides selling to ensure they are performing at a high level for all of their job duties—including back-of-house responsibilities. The soft skills you observe will give you an idea of how they approach different situations. Analyzing their hard skills will point to their ability to drive results and stay organized.

Look for transferable skills

As you observe their current skill set, think of how various elements could translate to their potential new position. For example, if they are great at defusing upset customers because they listen intently and own the problem through to resolution, they will likely be the same way when dealing with an upset team member. If they achieve higher sales by keeping an organized clientele book and have created a workflow around followup, they will also be able to bring their organizing and prioritizing skills into their new role. Look outside the workplace for skills as well. If one of their off-the-clock activities is coaching their nephew’s peewee baseball team, that could translate nicely into motivating employees to achieve their sales goal. With a little bit of observation and assessment, you can connect the dots around their aptitude for the skills and competencies needed for the Assistant Store Manager role.

Check their peer relationships

Last but by no means least, you’ll want to take a look at their current peer interactions and relationships. One of the hardest things about getting promoted within the same team is that they will suddenly be thrust from being a peer to being a boss; you’ll want to make sure both they and the rest of the team will be successful if and when this happens. As you observe them on the floor, you should also be sure to consider how they interact with the rest of the team. Watch to see if the team already treats them like a leader—if other employees come to them for questions or guidance in customer situations. You should also be able to see if they see themselves as a leader. They should be taking initiative to help new or struggling employees improve their skills, or stepping in to initiate tasks that need to be completed during down time. Their peer interactions will reveal a lot about what type of leader they will be and how ready they are to take on the new role.

Do you have a success story about someone you’ve recently promoted? Subscribe to tell us how you knew they were ready and we’ll include it in an upcoming newsletter if you’re open to it.