Some of the abilities and qualities of great supervisors are learned skills and/or behaviors. Other abilities and qualities are more innate; a result of their early life experiences. Through this article we will codify those attributes and give some insight into how and why they are important.
Key Supervisory Skills
These skills reflect the attributes required to be a good supervisor. A good supervisor:
- Communicates effectively – Shares information and encourages candid and open dialog. Ensures that people share information and have access to information they need to perform their tasks effectively. Multi-lingual skills are a plus.
- Demonstrated technical expertise – Understands the production systems necessary to operate the business successfully. Performs job tasks successfully. Creates a positive learning environment.
- Responsible and completes work without close supervision – Ability to work independently, solve problems and move ahead without constant instructions.
- Encourages creativity – Promotes trying new approaches.
- Both willing and able to give feedback – Creates an environment where feedback is well received. Considers feedback an opportunity to encourage. Organized – Organizes time and priorities to achieve business results in a timely manner.
- Adapts to and implements change – Accepts that change is inevitable and embraces change with innovation, courage, and resiliency.
- Understands and works with different learning styles – As a generality the supervisor will manage three distinctly different types of learners. Some people are auditory, meaning they learn well via listening, others learn visually, needing to “see” the subject matter to assimilate it, and then others are kinesthetic, needing to touch or feel the subject of the lesson to gain the desired level of knowledge.
- Tolerant (at least to a point) – Allows people to make mistakes. Treats mistakes as learning opportunities. Try to understand the needs, tendencies, and work habits of your people. This can help you offer adequate support, and discipline where needed. Furthermore, you will have the ability to set realistic and attainable expectations.
- Strength – Someday you will have to fire someone. Regardless of whether HR handles this or not you will be involved. If you cannot, or will not, accept the angst associated with those actions then being a supervisory will be stressful for you.
- Promotes key values – Consistently demonstrates work ethics and values. Conducts duties of the position with truth, sincerity, and fairness.
- Team and people building skills – Understands the importance of mentoring and coaching employees. Shows enthusiasm for helping others improve or develop new skills. Getting to know your team members on an individual basis can be a great help when striving to understand the team as a whole. It allows you to identify their strengths and weaknesses, enabling you to help them progress and become better workers.
- Motivational – The best leaders understand that motivation is both an art and a science. They are students of motivating practices and routinely employ those that fit their personality. Displaying interest and genuine enthusiasm can portray devotion and dedication to your work. If you have a positive attitude toward what you do, your team may be encouraged to act in the same way.
- Uses sound judgment – Applies knowledge of the business and tasks and uses common sense and analysis to make the best decision.
- Delegates effectively – Never delegate work that you should do yourself UNLESS you are doing so to test the skills and knowledge of the person to whom you are delegating. On the other hand, it is fundamental to your success to determine those people that can handle more and want to do so.
- Produces results – Directs his/her actions and the actions of others toward achieving goals that are critical to the success of the operation.
- Recruits quality employees – Selects new team members and provides quality training.
- Manage differences between others – Mediates the inevitable conflict between employees.
- Plans for success – Establishes a department plan consistent with that of the larger organization. Communicates that plan and manages to it.
- Finds and cultivates their potential successor – Your move up the corporate ladder can be more difficult if you have not identified your replacement.
- Time-management – Employees can become discouraged and overwhelmed if they do not manage their time well. In order to lead by example a good manager will be obvious about how they manage their own time and will help their staff with time management techniques.
- Maintains a strong work ethic – Exercising organization, prudence, and clarity can display good work ethics. Organization allows you to be more effective. This communicates to your team that you have the ability to use your time wisely while performing tasks well.
Traits or Qualities of Successful Supervisors
These traits and qualities speak to the character of the supervisor.
- Confident – Some people are seemingly born confident but most develop confidence along the way. How? – by acquiring knowledge. Nothing builds confidence like knowledge. And you cannot maximize team productivity without being a confident leader. A good supervisor must engage in the never-ending task of self-discovery and skill-building.
- Sincere – If you are faking it your staff will become aware of it. Productivity will decline as they will no longer see you as a quality leader. Be real.
- Honest and ethical – Your staff needs to respect you, look up to you. The quickest way to lose their faith in you is to be dishonest or unethical.
- Hard working – Before you were promoted there is a better than even chance that you wondered what your supervisor did with his or her time. There is a very good chance that after being a supervisor for even a short period of time you will never have that question again.
The Most Common Mistake Made by a New Internally Promoted Supervisor
Being overly aggressive the first month on the job. Take a deep breath, count to a billion, pause to reflect. Yes you want to establish yourself immediately as the leader, but this doesn’t mean you need to establish yourself as “the boss”. You have just taken a larger step than you might think. Let your ears do most of the work the first month; resist the urge to let your mouth ruin your debut.
The Most Common Mistake Made by a New Externally Hired Supervisor
Being overly aggressive the first month on the job. Don’t make judgments too quickly. Give your staff the time to get to know you and take the time to get to know them. Spend one-on-one time with each. Show genuine interest. Take notes about their personal lives and their professional goals. If you are attentive it will not take long to determine who you can count on.
In a nutshell
Being a supervisor can be fun. Being a supervisor can also mean a dramatically increased workload. For most people it means they are intent on making a career out of the undertaking while those that do not seek promotion are generally satisfied being simply an employee, a good soldier. If you can master the skills delineated in this ebook, while avoiding the obvious pitfalls, you are likely to be moving up the organizational ladder again the foreseeable future.