Considerations when choosing a manager


People are promoted to management positions for various reasons. In many organisations, the key considerations are the following:

1. Level of education of the candidate: The higher the academic qualification of the candidate, the more likely that they will be selected. Unfortunately, however, a high academic qualification does not always translate to effective performance. University managers, for example, hold the highest academic qualifications possible, yet universities are not the best managed institutions!

2. Expertise: Regardless of academic qualifications, the person who can demonstrate greater expertise in doing a particular job may be appointed to manage his/her colleagues. This is quite common in jobs where performance is easy to measure, for example in sales jobs: the person who consistently sells the most stands a greater chance of being appointed to lead a team.

3. Know-how: A candidate who demonstrates greater know-how of the work and the work environment may be preferred for management position. This includes knowledge of:

1.the work itself (knows different methods of carrying out tasks, knows the industry/professional standards, keeps up with latest developments in the field, etc.); 2.the organisation (its history, mission, vision, administrative structures, etc.); 3.the industry sector where the organisation operates (upcoming opportunities, government policies, status of other players, etc.); Etc.


4.Experience: More often than not, only the length of experience is considered, that is, how many years the candidate has worked. But the “breadth” or “width” of experience is also important. This may be determined from the number of different industries a candidate has worked (e.g., an accountant who has worked in retail and manufacturing sectors, or public and private institutions); or the number of departments within the organisation the candidate has worked.

The above four considerations are the most common, especially in medium-sized and larger organisations. However, my view is that they are not enough: indeed, I believe they pale into insignificance when compared to two other factors that are regularly left out.

I believe that the two most important factors to consider when choosing a manager are TRUSTWORTHINESS and LOYALTY

5.Trustworthiness: The question is: do you believe that this candidate will always act in the best interest of the organisation? In other words; can the organisation trust the candidate? If the answer is no, then, no matter how highly the candidate scores in the other 4 parameters, he/she must be rejected!

6.Loyalty: This is often confused with years of service. However, there are many other reasons why a person may choose to remain working in the same organisation, for example, it might be that they simply can't get employment anywhere else! There are many ineffective employees who only do the minimum to not get fired: would that be termed as loyalty?

7. Loyalty is the answer to this question: Does the employee trust the organisation? Does he/she believe that the organisation will always act in his/her best interest? After all, don't organisations regularly proclaim that “our employees are our greatest assets”? Does the candidate believe this statement?

I believe that the reason many managers under-perform is because they were appointed for the wrong reasons: Education, Expertise, Know-how and Experience! The most important factors – trustworthiness and loyalty are hardly ever considered. The result is not only under-performance but, in case of senior [board-level] management, the total collapse of the entire organisation.

Indeed, if we look at many failed organisations [private and public], we find that the missing ingredient in each case was trustworthiness and loyalty on the part of senior management. Even at the national level, it is clear that failure of governments comes as a result of lack of trustworthiness and loyalty on the part of the political leadership.

Smaller, family managed organisations put a very high premium of trustworthiness and loyalty. They prefer to put members of the family in management positions. It’s not just a case of nepotism, but a legitimate management selection criterion.

In an extreme case, we might find ourselves face with the challenge of choosing between an incompetent but trustworthy, loyal manager and a highly competent disloyal crook. Which would you choose?