HR: Select and handle supervisors with care

| Print |  Email
Friday, June 01, 2007

{safe_alt_text}So many supervisors and managers are chosen not for their ability to foster productivity or to coach employees, but for their technical skill and performance in a job that requires no supervisory expertise.

This isn’t a new observation. People have been writing and talking about it for years. What is remarkable is that, even with all this information, in many organizations the selection of a new supervisor continues to be based on the wrong things: tenure or competence in a job quite different from supervision.

Being an effective supervisor requires that the person enjoy teaching and coaching others for best performance. Supervisors who simply give orders or directions aren’t nearly as effective. The best supervisors encourage, praise, remind and stretch an employee’s capability. The most admired supervisors set high expectations for employees, and then help them achieve success.

Supervision and management is about  getting results for the organization through the efforts and work products of others. It is about planning, structuring work activities and delegating both responsibility and authority to employees to carry out their assignments. Supervision is about ensuring that employees know how to do their work and that they understand that their work makes a difference in the organization’s ability to attain its business objectives.

Selecting an individual who can become a great supervisor is a critical endeavor. The person needs to understand the business well enough to be perceived as capable by the employees they supervise. But knowledge of the operation is only the very beginning. The person needs to have patience, coaching skills, strong communication abilities, willingness to make tough decisions and stick to them even when the employees are disappointed or mad, and the talent to inspire the best performance from each employee. For some workers, this is achieved through acknowledging and recognizing their efforts; for others, increasing the level of challenge is the best way to motivate; and for still others, it is understanding what they do best and giving them the freedom to do that work.

This attribute profile, so necessary in a supervisor, is not the typical description of a person in a nonsupervisory role. Identifying which people have either these native skills or the desire to learn and develop them is essential when considering who should be placed in a supervisory position. Asking whether this person can be objective, fair, management-oriented (even though some of the employees they will supervise are friends) and committed to helping employees do their best work are the questions most important in determining who to select.

Training for new supervisors is critical. There are many laws and regulations that apply to the workplace and understanding them isn’t picked up through osmosis. They need to be learned through structured classes/workshops or specifically taught during an orientation to the new job. Employees are different from one another. Having a “one style fits all” approach is likely to be less effective than having the ability to shift approaches based on the employee’s work experience and personality.

As the workplace gets more complicated and organizations work to maximize productivity and results, the supervisor is the key to success. A recent Gallup found that 70% of all voluntary employee departures were directly related to their relationship with their boss. Turnover is expensive, and few organizations can continue to afford supervisors who send talented employees out the door. Fortunately, the antidote is known: Thoughtful selection of supervisors and ongoing efforts to enhance their people skills will assist the organization in obtaining positive results and retaining a valued workforce.

— Judy Clark, SPHR
CEO, HR Answers

Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


 

More Articles

Streetfight

News
Sunday, December 07, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

On Friday, Uber switched on an app — and with one push of the button torpedoed Portland’s famed public process.


Read more...

Kill the Meeting

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Meetings get a bad rap. A few local companies make them count.


Read more...

Behind the curtain: What students should know about accreditation and rankings

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, December 04, 2014
120414-edurating-thumbBY DEBRA RINGOLD | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

How important are institutional and/or program evaluations provided by third parties in selecting a college or university program?


Read more...

Reimagining education to solve Oregon's student debt and underemployment problems

News
Thursday, November 13, 2014
carsonstudentdept-thumbBY RYAN CARSON | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

How do we skill up our future technology workforce in a smart way to take advantage of these high-paying jobs? The answer shouldn’t focus only on helping people get a bachelor’s degree.


Read more...

Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


Read more...

Corner Office: Marv LaPorte

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

The president of LaPorte & Associates lets us in on his day-to-day life.


Read more...

Free Falling

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, December 18, 2014
121714-oilprice-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB CONTRIBUTOR

The implosion of the energy complex: The best thing for low oil prices is low oil prices.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS