The biggest challenge in building supervisory skills is that most “supervisors” don’t have a complete understanding of what it means to be a supervisor. How can anyone build on something that has an unstable or missing foundation? Well, you can’t and you shouldn’t.
One dictionary definition describes a supervisor as “One who supervises; one who is in charge of a particular department or unit”. Being in charge of a business unit is comprised of two important elements:
(1) The supervisor must be able to run and manage the business; the focus being on process, systems, structure, and performance measures;
(2) The supervisor must be able to inspire and lead the employees; the emphasis being on morale, workplace culture, and professional development.
Eventually, one without the other always ends badly. Many argue that the failure of Merrill Lynch in 2008 was, ultimately, a failure of leadership at the company.
I find that the majority of supervisors today are elevated to their position more for their technical (running the business) track record rather than leadership capability. Considering this imbalance consider SKYE’s Leadership ABCs as a framework for building the soft-skills side of the equation:
A. ADAPTIVE: Learn how to communicate with different personalities. Becoming more adaptive to and understanding how people are motivated and influenced is invaluable with today’s diverse workforce.
B. BALANCED: Find the correct balance between working “in” your business (running it) and working “on” your business (improving it). The chaotic nature of the former often eliminates the time for the latter. Also, balance must be achieved between holding employees accountable and helping them grow professionally. This is not simple with some people – you know who they are.
C. CAPABLE: Employees need a role model to help them master the “technical” aspects of their job and become influential communicators. Learn to facilitate problem solving (not solving problems for them) and be the communicator others aspire to be – they will follow.
Incorporating this framework into your company’s leadership philosophy will produce better supervisors, more satisfied employees, and superior business results.