Jamie Herzlich Newsday columnist Jamie Herzlich

Herzlich writes the Small Business column in Newsday.

Choosing the right manager is critical for any company.

Yet, often companies fail to make the right choice and base their decision on how long that employee has been with the company or how good he or she has been on the job without taking other critical leadership skills into account.

According to Gallup, only one in 10 people possess the talent to manage, so identifying who those people are within your organization is critical to its long-term success.

“If you promote the wrong person, in the worst case they can create a toxic work environment where people want to leave,” says Heather Krasna, assistant dean of career services at Columbia University’s public health school and a Manhattan-based career coach.

To be sure, an employee can be a fantastic team member and individual contributor, but not necessarily a great manager.

“To become a manager and supervisor of other people requires a whole other set of skills,” she notes. “There are people that are naturally great managers, and there are people that really struggle to be a manager.”

According to Dr. Joe Folkman, president of Zenger Folkman, an Orem, Utah, leadership development and corporate training firm, and co-author of “The Extraordinary Leader” (McGraw-Hill; $32.95), there are 10 “competencies” that would enable individuals to be very effective leaders. These are, he says:

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  • having integrity and being trustworthy,
  • being able to achieve results consistently,
  • being viewed as having deep technical expertise,
  • being effective at solving problems,
  • being willing to accept “stretch” goals,
  • taking initiative,
  • having the ability to inspire,
  • being trusted to represent the organization,
  • being able to recognize the need for change,
  • desiring collaboration.

“The best leaders do two or three of these really well,” and the rest they don’t do terribly, he explains.

He believes organizations should look to develop everybody and “what they’ll start to see is that leaders emerge.”

Before you even consider promoting someone, you need to determine whether he or she is achieving goals and meeting expectations, suggests Krasna. You want to see what the prospect is doing that is “above and beyond the basics.”

Also see if the person has the respect of co-workers and is a natural teacher, suggests Lydia Dougherty, director of client services, HR benefits and compliance at Prestige Employee Administrators in Melville.

“Some people are very knowledgeable but don’t necessarily have the capability of teaching,” she says.

If you want to test a few people out, perhaps assign them projects that involve interacting with other departments or co-workers to see how they do, Dougherty suggests.

“You don’t want to automatically just promote someone without knowing what they’re capable of,” she adds. Consider testing the person with an assignment out of his or her comfort zone that will be a bit of a challenge.

Don’t forget some people don’t want to be managers, so there has to be a desire to take on that role, notes Linda Berke, president of Taylor Performance Solutions Inc. in Farmingdale. Consider if the possible candidates have expressed interest in being promoted and have asked for projects to demonstrate leadership ability, she says.

Also discuss with them how their role will change so they understand that, says Berke. Consider, too, if they’re self-motivated and able to get their own work done, and be open to providing further support, development and training.

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Finally, have a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, says Krasna, and give them chances to improve.