The Supervisor Dilemma

The Supervisor Dilemma

Organisations easily identify a diligent, hard worker. The person is competent and willing to take on more responsibility and they are reliable.. Their technical expertise is beyond reproach, and they are easily recommended for the first line of management to become a supervisor or foreman

The problem starts when they are appointed in the new role. The reason is simple – the new incumbent does not possess the necessary competencies to be fully effective in their new role. The problem is exacerbated by organisations expecting the person to be just as competent as before, without realising that the competencies required have changed completely.

In moving up the leadership pipeline, the skills and competencies required changed from managing yourself and being 100% on task, to managing others and splitting time between your needs and the needs of your team. You need to be able to deal with the pressure from the top and please your subordinates.

From experience, the first line management is the fault line in most organisations for various reasons. Firstly, the supervisor struggles with making the transition from employee to management and secondly, the pressure from the top stops with the supervisor. The supervisor is often ill-equipped to deal with the subordinate’s demands or manage upwards.

Supervisors need to be equipped with a new set of competencies. Copied or learned behaviour from observing other managers, is often a poor example of supervising that doesn’t add much value to developing your supervisors. Technical competence is not enough to manage the demands of managing people in the new position. Apart from the difficulty in dealing with people, supervisors need to plan, control work and organise a team of people. They need to deliver, manage performance and understand themselves as well as others.

A tall order, and most companies do not have the time to get supervisors up-to-speed as quickly as possible. Considering that it takes three to six months for a person in a new position to contribute fully, most organisations can’t afford the time for you to settle in. The alternative is to send the new supervisor on an experiential course where practical skills can be acquired, with tips, shortcuts and quick wins to get productive and effective as quickly as possible. The training is designed on solid foundational research and knowledge, but delivered in a hands-on, practical way.

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