Guidelines for Conducting Supervisoral Development Programs

© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.
Adapted from the Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision.

(This page is referenced from Supervisory Development.)

Among the various positions in management, the role of supervisor is quite unique. As described in the Basic Overview of Supervision, new supervisors are often under a great deal of stress. It may be rather straightforward to identify a list of core competencies for the role of supervisor. However, it can be a major challenge to help the new supervisor develop the necessary skills while at the same managing stress and time sufficient to keep perspective (and sanity). Therefore, consider the following guidelines when carrying out a supervisoral development plan.

Have a Human Resources Representative Play Major Role

A trained human resources professional can be a major benefit in the development of a new supervisor. The representative often has strong working knowledge of the various policies and procedures that, at first, can seem quite intimidating to the supervisor. The representative usually has a good understanding of the dynamics of training and development. In addition, the representative can an be an impartial confidant for the supervisor.

Establish a Development Plan

One of the biggest contributions from a development plan is perspective. In the middle of the stress and confusion, the new supervisor can reference the plan to retain some basic perspective on their job. The plan coordinates ongoing interaction between the new supervisor and their supervisor, ensuring each is aware of the direction and accomplishments of the new supervisor.

Key Skills: Delegation, Time Management and Stress Management

Ensure the plan includes strong, initial focus on developing these three key skills. Effective skills in delegation can relieve a great deal of stress from the supervisor, while ensuring high productivity among employees. Strong skills in time management can ensure that the supervisor is using time in the best way possible. Finally, basic skills in stress management can ensure that the new supervisor maintains poise and perspective.

Provide Ongoing Guidance and Support

An experienced supervisor can soon forget how confusing and challenging the role of new supervisor can be. Even if things seem to be going fine, be sure to stop in and visit the new supervisor on a regular basis. Some new supervisors may not feel comfortable asking for help. Provide ongoing affirmation and support.

Track the New Supervisor's Time on the Job

Notice how many hours the new supervisor is spending at work. If that amount has increased substantially since he or she began the new role, then intervene. Various studies have shown that productivity levels off substantially after 50-60 hours of work in a week. Consider establishing a maximum amount of hours for the new supervisor, e.g., 50 hours a week. If, with this limit, a great deal of work is not getting done by the new supervisor, then look for the cause. Perhaps the new supervisor does not have sufficient resources or training to carry out the job. Perhaps there's just too much work to do.

Tactfully Interact with Supervisor's Staff

Ongoing stresses can sometimes bring out the worst in a new supervisor. He or she may struggle to effectively delegate projects, maintain composure with employees or even be available for employees to voice concerns. Ongoing complaints from employees are a key indicator that the new supervisor may be struggling. Therefore, take time to interact with the new supervisor's employees, but do so tactfully. However, be careful to conclude if there are really any problems. Each supervisor carries out their jobs according to their own unique needs and nature. Don't compare the style of the new supervisor to your own. He or she may not conduct the role in the same way that others would.

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