It's not unusual that one of the career paths available to an experienced technician is going into project management. But Peter's Principle warns us about the risks of doing it without proper preparation, since succeeding in one position doesn't guarantee further success in the other.

I've found some Q&A about applying for a PM position (e.g. How to handle selection process for new project manager position I'm interested in?, how do I prove my project coordinator skills in the hiring process?) and a very specific question about the transition from programmer to PM, but they deal with the matter from the point of view of the employee, not of the company (or the person leading the hiring process).

If the company prefers promoting Project Managers from the inside, instead of hiring them from the outside (for example because of a steep learning curve), the company has to, somehow, widen the path from technical to managerial tasks, in order to facilitate that some of the technicians could go this way, instead of walking further into their own technical career path.

What are the keys the company needs to search for when hiring new (and good) technicians, so it can increase the chances of some of them becoming good PMs in the future?

3 Answers 3


Wow, huge question! Let's talk about:

  • Capabilities: Personal skills and knowledge
  • Talent: How much effort is necessary to be good at something?
  • Potential: The end of development within a specific domain

To identify the next good PM you need to:

  • Identify the required capabilities within your company. I would prioritise leadership and communications like skills before knowledge of techniques
  • Find people with talent and more important potential regarding the identified capabilities.

While it's often easy to see how talented people are it's usually quite difficult to estimate their potential. As far as I know this can only be done by watching them during phases of development

What I noticed as common approach is a mixture of training on the job and trainings / programmes focusing on the development of personality.

  • Let your good technicians gain some experiences on small and almost safe projects.
  • Put them in training programmes focusing on PM soft skills
  • Support them in gathering technical PM knowledge, e.g. by paying certifications
  • Watch their development during this period regarding their potential with respect to the required capabilities within your company

Here's the problem for organizations and predicting future job success:

  1. What are the attributes and work behaviors consistent with a particular job role's success?
  2. How do you observe or test for those attributes and work behaviors that produce both RELIABLE and VALID results, minimizing biases?
  3. How do you pay for this?

For a job role, if you try to do research on those attributes and work behaviors, you'll likely have ten different opinions on the matter from which you have to choose. If you choose one, then you likely just introduced your own set of biases. Then producing a test that reliably scores against those attributes while interpreting those results without bias becomes a huge challenge.

Then you have to wash, rinse, and repeat for the next set of job roles.

After all this is finished, you may have created a predictive hiring tool that will have a validity of like 0.5, 0.6, and you have spent over five years of your HR budget getting to that.

I think the best, most cost effective strategy is for an organization to truly understand and teach its hiring managers the phenomena that interferes with selection: various types of biases and halo / devil's horn effects. Use panels to select to help reduce an individual's biases and establish a probation period.

I am going to avoid listing out key attributes because I would likely just be exposing my biases and, even if I produced a great list, you would still have the issue of observing it, measuring it, interpreting what you think you are seeing, etc.


Focus from client perspective and business perspective while development. This is key point, be a solution expert and not only developer.

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