Home Back Issues June 2007 HR: Select and handle supervisors with care

HR: Select and handle supervisors with care

| Print |  Email
Archives - June 2007
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

Banishing oil burners reaps benefits for schools

News
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
04.02.14 thumb co2schoolsBY APRIL STREETER | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Three years ago, PPS set out to begin to convert the 1930s-era boilers from diesel/bunker fuel to cleaner-burning natural gas. Oregon’s largest school district has realized impressive carbon dioxide emissions reductions, setting an example for public and private institutions.


Read more...

The more they change, the more they stay the same

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
100-best-collageBY BRANDON SAWYER

The 100 Best Companies get more creative with perks and more generous with benefits; employees seek empowering relations with management and coworkers.


Read more...

Barrister bands

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
IMG 4691BY LINDA BAKER

An intellectual property attorney by day, 48-year-old Stoll Berne attorney Tim DeJong is a singer and guitarist by night.


Read more...

Why I became an educator

News
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
03.04.14 thumbnail teachBY DEBRA RINGOLD | GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

How can we strengthen the performance of institutions charged with teaching what Francis Fukuyama calls the social virtues (reciprocity, moral obligation, duty toward community, and trust) necessary for successful markets and democracy itself?


Read more...

Powerlist: Meeting perspectives

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

BY BRANDON SAWYER

A conversation about the event-planning industry with sales directors from McMenamins and the Portland Art Museum. 


Read more...

Speeding up science

News
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
02.25.14 Thumbnail MedwasteBY JOE ROJAS-BURKE | OB BLOGGER

The medical research enterprise wastes tens of billions of dollars a year on irrelevant studies. It’s time to fix it.


Read more...

Wheel man

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Les Schwab has put a premium on customer service since 1952, when legendary namesake Les Schwab founded the company with one store in Prineville. (Schwab died in 2007.) But if the corporate principles remain essentially the same, the world around this iconic Oregon business has changed dramatically.


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