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

Reader Input: Energy policy

June 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014

How serious a problem is climate change? Readers want to have their cake and eat it, too.


Read more...

Q&A: David Lively of Organically Grown Co.

News
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
OGCLogoBY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER

Demand for organic food continues to soar: Last year, sales of organic food rose to $32.3 billion — up 10% from 2012. In Oregon, organic produce wholesaler Organically Grown Co. has been championing organic growing methods for four decades.


Read more...

OB Video: Oregon MESA

News
Thursday, June 26, 2014

ThumbOregon Business hosts an informal roundtable discussion about the Oregon MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) program.


Read more...

OB Video: Building trade ties with the EU

News
Monday, June 16, 2014
BritEmbCampionBY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

The Oregon economy could get a boost from a new trade agreement being negotiated between the U.S. and the European Union.


Read more...

Detox fashion

June 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Remember mood rings? A team of scientists at Oregon State University has designed what might be considered a 21st-century analog of the ’70s jewelry fad: a bracelet that reveals one’s exposure to pollutants.


Read more...

The Scott Kveton affair

News
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
ScottKvetonBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Scott Kveton, the CEO of Urban Airship is taking a leave of absence from the company. As the story continues to unfold, here’s our perspective on a few of the key players.


Read more...

Driving green

June 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

Transportation accounts for the second-largest source of greenhouse gases in the U.S. (28% in 2012), and the use of renewable fuels, such as biodiesel and ethanol, is booming in light of state and national programs to make transportation fuels cleaner.


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