Accidental Managers


By Neal Glatt

It was recently reported that 82% of managers ended up in their role by accident, meaning that their job as a manager was awarded based on something besides their ability to manage.  We all know that accidents can cause significant problems, so here’s how to handle accidental managers at your company…

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The problem with accidental managers is that they don’t have the skills, or even sometimes the desire, to create teams that thrive.  Direct managers are responsible for at least 70% of the performance of their people, so we can’t simply hope that they can manage.  We need to create a winning strategy for our companies to thrive.

To start, we need to stop the problem from happening by selecting employees better for management roles.  Rather than promoting people who have been at the company for many years of service (seniority-based promotions) or those who perform individual contribution roles well (inapplicable competence-based promotions), we need to create a selection and promotion process that is based on true management potential.

That process should include situational and behavioral interview questions, entrepreneurial ability assessments, and a survey of relevant managerial experience and training completion.  Here at, we’ve created a whole course on exactly how to go about this process called “How to Hire” that will enable you to get the best people in your most important managerial roles.

For existing managers (even those in place by accident), continual improvement is necessary to reaching hire outcomes.  For companies who want to increase their sales organically, make more profit despite rising costs, attract and retain talent, or successfully implement leadership initiatives, quality managers are the deciding factor.  The good news is that great managers are made, not found.

I was promoted to management because of my tenure and ability to sell, but I was one of the worst managers ever.  Yet through individualized coaching, book study, certification programs, and continued education, I have learned how to get a team engaged so well that I’m now paid to coach managers on how to be effective.  

If you’re an accidental manager who needs help, or know someone on your team who is, you’ll find tremendous value in the 20+ courses designed specifically for managers here on Grow The Bench.  Being an accidental manager doesn’t mean we can’t be successful in our roles, but it does mean we have to work hard to level up our game.  Are you willing to invest in yourself to better your team?  

Tags: Managers , Direct Managers , Accidental Managers ,