This will make no sense but it’s the way it is, so here we go.

To be promoted to manager—an incredibly important role in any business and one that is highly influential in the success of the company—don’t take management training classes or read books about management or try to learn about the qualities of successful managers.

You don’t need to know anything about motivating people, skillful communication, managing bosses or hiring.

Sure, you need a driver’s license to become a bus driver. You need to go through trade school or an apprenticeship before you can be a mechanic. But knowing something about management in order to be a manager? Nah!

If you want to get promoted to management, just be good at the non-managerial job you have now. Because most companies treat a promotion to management as a reward for being good at something else.

Hey, you’re such a great server we’re gonna promote you to executive chef! You are a super good carpenter…let’s up you to architect!

Of course, those things would never happen. It would be a disaster for the business and the employee.

Just because someone is good in a related job doesn’t mean they are capable of performing well in a new one, particularly without proper training.

But every day, good software engineers are promoted to manage other software engineers. Good salespeople are promoted to manage entire business units. Capable workers of all kinds who are good self-promoters are rewarded with management roles, briefly cautioned against harassment and discrimination then sent out to lead their teams.

No wonder Gallup has found that 82% of managers are not qualified for their roles. No wonder 75% of employees consider their manager to be the worst part of their job.

Bad managers cost the economy billions each year, but the practice of treating management like a spiff instead of a specialty continues every day.

Managers who have never been trained in management have strikes against them before they even start. There’s nothing easy or intuitive about management. Management requires character traits most people don’t have. But as long as management is treated as a reward for performance in some other job, nobody’s going to pay attention to any of that.

And because most companies don’t seem to know how to address or even understand the problem, it’s up to individual managers to fix it. Managers who are self-aware, who aren’t arrogant and who have normal-sized egos stand a chance. They’ll realize there’s more to management than they first thought and they’ll find ways to improve.

The rest? I’m not hopeful.

Though I hear there’s this book that may make a useful, anonymous gift.


To learn more about how to be a successful manager, read Don’t Be a Jerk Manager: The Down & Dirty Guide to Management. It’s the management training you never got, available on Kindle and in paperback from

Do you think you might be a jerk manager? Take the quiz!


Photo by Museums Victoria on Unsplash