Transitioning into a new role can be challenging for any employee, but when that employee is taking on a management position for the first time, there can be another set of difficulties, says Tom Davenport, senior consultant at Towers Watson, a global professional services company in New York City. The new responsibilities that come with a management position are more than just different technical skills, which the employee has already proved to grasp. Rather, the additional responsibilities involve managing people, and those are skills not everyone possesses.

On the employer side, choosing the right person for the job might seem like the obvious first step, but it's not always that easy. Often, employers choose to promote employees based on their technical skills rather than their foreseen abilities to lead others, Davenport says. While having a strong technical skillset is important, it should not be the primary determining factor for transitioning employees into managerial positions.

"Promoting employees because of their technical skills is what I refer to as the 'manager death spiral,'" Davenport says. "What organizations need to do from the beginning is fight the temptation for that first promotion to be mainly on the basis of technical skills. Find someone who is technically good, but maybe they're a seven on the one to 10 technical scale. They don't have to be a 9.5."

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