Supervisory Skills 101


What makes a supervisor great? While there may not be a quick and simple answer to that question, there is a certain set of skills for supervisors, that, when learned through time and exposure, make supervisors more effective. With increasing pressure being placed on supervisors to perform, organizations can’t afford a long learning curve.

Key to being a better supervisor is knowing learners’ current supervisory skill level, and working the skills from there. This webinar covers skill areas that are integral to everyone from relatively inexperienced supervisors to seasoned veterans. individuals can better adapt their behavior to improve supervisory skills, develop rapport, and ultimately, become more effective supervisors.

Participants Will Learn:

  • How to identify a supervisor’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Actions supervisors should avoid
  • How to help supervisors plan, prioritize, and delegate
  • The skills for supervisors that build productive relationships

Who Should Attend:

  • Training and HR Professionals
  • Independent Consultants
  • Managers delivering training

Sara: Hi, everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar, Supervisory Skills 101,
hosted by HRDQ-U, and presented by Keera Godfrey. My name is Sara,
and I will moderate today’s webinar. It will last about an hour. If you
have any questions, go ahead and type them into the questions area on
your Go To webinar control panel, and then we’ll either answer them as
they come in, at the end of the session depending on time, or after the
session by email. Today’s webinar content is from our self assessment
and workshop supervisory skills questionnaire. If you’re interested in
delivering this training within your organization, please contact HRDQ.
Sara: Our presenter today is Keera Godfrey. With 15 years experience, Keera
is a change management and training consultant helping organizations
connect, build, and invest in their greatest assets, people. Whether re
engineering business processes, implementing a new information
system, or augmenting staff, taking care of people is critical to success.
In 2010, Keera founded Naris Communications, a company that
specializes in designing training programs, developing stakeholder
communications, and delivering leadership training to support
organizational transformation, performance improvement, and
information system implementations. Welcome, Keera, and thank you
so much for joining us today.
Keera Godfrey: Thank you so much, Sara, and thank you to all of you for being here
today. Here’s our agenda. We will first talk about a proven supervisory
skills model and the five key supervisory skills needed for success. As I
present each skill, I will begin with an application scenario. I will present
a situation, and we’ll talk about the best action. Our agenda today also
includes a discussion about supervisory do’s and don’ts, and then a few
skill improvement tips. We will end with how to identify a supervisor’s
strengths and weaknesses based on a supervisory assessment model
designed by HRDQ. If I stick to the agenda, we will have time for Q and
A’s at the end.
Keera Godfrey: Let’s begin. Consider this scenario. You have been given an award for
excellence in supervision for 2017. The award was created, and it was
also voted on by employees. What makes excellence in supervision? Is it
the technical expertise, or is it excellent relationships? Tell me … just
think about it for a moment, and jot down your response on a piece of
paper. What do you think? What makes excellence in supervision?
Technical expertise or excellent relationships. All right. Let’s talk about
the correct answer. The correct answer is excellent relationships. Most
people aren’t promoted to supervisor because of their technical skills. In
essence, they know how to do the job well. However, supervisory skills
are very different than technical skills to complete the job. Research has
shown that the ability to cultivate excellent relationships is an attribute
of effective supervision. This includes excellent relationships with
employees, the organization, and even vendors.
Keera Godfrey: For a moment, think about a supervisor you have had in the past, or
think about your experience managing others. I’m certain you can attest
to the fact that to be an effective supervisor, it is a balancing act. The
role of a supervisor is first to align your teams with the goals of the
organizations, such as the goal of the organization may be to increase
production, to increase sales. Supervisors are expected to do this while
also meeting the needs of the individual employees in the work group.
Supervisors are responsible for ensuring employees receive effective
training. They manage requests for, let’s say paid time off. And you’re
doing this while ensuring work gets done. Also, you may have to even
resolve a few conflicts along the way. In essence, supervisors are now
responsible for the balancing act in an era of increasing government
regulations, sophisticated technology, movement across cross
functional teams, and diverse, entitled, and better educated employees.
Despite these challenges, the basic function of a supervisor remains the
same, getting the work done through the efforts of others.
Keera Godfrey: Making the transition to an effective supervisor requires a shifting of
attitude, an increased ability to perceive the emotions of direct reports,
and to manage one’s own emotions. Here is a supervisory skills model
we will discuss over our time together today. Look carefully at this
diagram. It tells a story about supervisors’ need to balance or function
as a link between the organization’s management and the employees.
The supervisor is accountable to management for completing the work
according to expectations, and they are accountable for their own direct
reports. In this model, you as the supervisor will use direction from the
organization to perform your job. As the supervisor, you then first
organize the work, second, guide the work, third, develop your direct
reports, fourth, manage performance formally and informally, and fifth,
manage relationships with several teams outside of your own work
group. These are the five essential supervisory skills that the more
effective supervisors demonstrate in the work place. Let’s explore these
a little more.
Keera Godfrey: Let’s look at the first one, guiding the work. As a supervisor, your view of
work must be broader than the view of your employees. Effective
supervisors must be able to guide the work group towards organization
of goals in such a way that employees know their needs are not being
ignored or forsaken. Let’s talk about this one a little bit more. Let’s do
this. I want to give you a scenario. If you can just take a moment to think
about it, and then jot your answer down on your piece of paper that you
have with you. Here’s the scenario. A project your group received about
three weeks ago seems stalled, even though your group knows it’s
important to your best customer. You decide to have a talk with your
group about what the problem may be. How would you start the
discussion? A, would you tell your group that you need to know what’s
going on with the project, tell them that you will accept whatever
changes they suggest? B, you will start by stating clearly that this project
must be completed, then discuss their expectations for completion and
yours. Or C, tell the group that the project is now a top priority, and give
them a completion date. Which one do you think is best to start the
Keera Godfrey: The correct answer is B. Start by stating clearly what this project must …
that this project must be completed, then discuss their expectations for
completion and yours. Guiding the work involves taking the direction of
the organization and translating it into actionable plans for the work
group. Being an effective supervisor means understanding the bigger
picture, which includes the goals of the organization, the direction from
the business, and setting clear expectations as to how the work will be
carried out. This is not always easy for supervisors, particularly new
supervisors whose perspective has been focused more on the needs of
the work group. Although it may be challenging at times, any direction a
supervisor provides has to be supportive of the organization. This means
fostering an environment in which employees and your teams are
encouraged to collaborate and feel empowered to develop creative
solutions to complex problems.
Keera Godfrey: Under guiding the work, let’s talk a little bit about a few do’s and don’ts.
As a supervisor, you must understand the needs of your organization,
and then effectively create plans within your group to meet those
needs. Here are a few examples. As a supervisor, you must support your
organization goals. Again, you are the liaison in between the business
and your work group. Do get your employees involved in the planning
process and gain the commitment to those action plans. Also, act
decisively. Employees’ work depend on supervisors decisions. Lagging or
wavering could affect workflow, and it simply sets a poor example. Here
are a few don’ts. Don’t tell employees that you disagree with
management positions. Again, you are the liaison between management
and your work group. Consistently prepare detailed plans without
consulting your employees. Again, this is a don’t. Don’t consistently do
this. It should be a collaborative process. Also, don’t fail to assign
responsibility for tasks.
Keera Godfrey: Let’s talk about a few improvement tips. Here are things you can do that
will help you along the way as you guide the work. Make it clear to your
work group that you support the organization and its goals. Also,
balance asking for information and acting decisively. Also, you want to
create specific and realistic plans. Plans are necessary to translate
intentions into actions. Whatever strategy the supervisor decides, it
must be clearly defined. Whatever you decide, make sure that it’s
clearly defined. Make sure that it’s well understood by your employees,
and unmistakably communicated. Gain commitment by actively
involving your work group. Without specific commitment to action
plans, understanding the goals of the organization is pointless. It does
no good. Make sure you gain commitment.
Keera Godfrey: All right, good job. Let’s move on to organizing the work. The second
supervisory skill involves assigning the right people to the right tasks,
and providing necessary resources to meet work goals. Shifting
organizational priorities and business transformation necessitate almost
consistent reorganization of work. With change come opportunity and
cost. As a supervisor with responsibilities to the organization, you must
consider the impact to the bottom line of certain actions. The primary
consideration in organizing or reorganizing the work is the effect on the
organization. However, supervisors must keep the needs of his or her
direct reports in mind as well. Here’s another scenario that we’ll talk
about. You have appointed one of your people as the leader of a
project, but it is clear that another employee is really seen as the leader
by the group. The project is progressing well, but it worries you that the
leadership is not where you want it to be. What would you do?
Keera Godfrey: Would you A, make it clear to the group who the leader is and who you
support, don’t tolerate other sources of leadership, B, appoint the
leader who has the group’s support as the formal project leader, or C,
don’t interfere? Yes, the correct answer is don’t interfere. Supervisors
are part of a hierarchy in their organizations. Working within that
hierarchy is critical. But it’s also critical, however, to have an awareness
of the unspoken hierarchy known as the informal organization. The
informal organization can have a strong impact on the organization of
work, often exceeding the effectiveness of the prearranged cross
functional teams. When it is in line with the formal organization, the
supervisor should simply let it be. Fighting the informal organization is
often fruitless work. As the supervisor, you should intervene when the
informal organization is working against the formal hierarchy. The need
to intervene will be less frequent if you encourage a culture of
transparency, trust, and also teamwork.
Keera Godfrey: All right, let’s talk a little bit about some do’s and don’ts. As a supervisor,
you should develop the necessary skills needed to assign people and
allocate resources to accomplish work goals. To be the most effective
and to maximize people’s engagement in the organization, you should
set schedules to meet the organization’s goals. Also, use others’
expertise to organize when necessary. Also, keep track of what’s going
on in the information organization. Here are a few don’ts. Don’t accept
work changes without question. It’s okay to ask questions and also to
answer questions as well. Don’t show favoritism or fail to assign
unpleasant tasks. It’s a necessary part of getting the job done. Also,
don’t try to have complete knowledge of all aspects of work. This is the
reason why we work in teams and collaborate with others.
Keera Godfrey: Here are a few skill improvement tips. Handle shifting priorities. Again,
in the world of changing technologies, being able to balance and handle
shifting priorities and change along with the business needs are going to
be quite important for any skillful supervisor. Also, quickly investigate
unforeseen problems, and try to solve them. Also, follow the rules, the
regulations, and guidelines of the organization. Accommodate the needs
of your work group when they are not in direct conflict with the
organization’s needs. This is a part of the balancing act that we were
talking about earlier.
Keera Godfrey: Now let’s talk about developing your staff. The third supervisory skill
involves knowing and actively working to increase the skill level of each
employee being supervised. The third skill level is developing direct
reports. A supervisor who is aware of the unique features of each direct
report in the work group will be best equipped to help them meet their
potential. Here is another scenario. You believe that one of the people
you supervise has the potential to be promoted, but that person lacks
confidence in his or her abilities. How would you build his or her
confidence? A, would you give the employee a challenging assignment
that you are sure he or she can complete with some effort, or B, would
you give the employee an easy assignment and then praise him or her
when the assignment is completed, or C, would you praise the
employee publicly each time he or she completes a task or an
assignment? Go ahead and jot your answer on your sheet of paper.
What do you think? A, B, or C?
Keera Godfrey: All right. The correct answer is A. Give the employee a challenging
assignment that you are sure he or she can complete with some effort.
Investing in an employee’s development takes commitment, trust, and a
well-defined objective, clearly established action plans, and follow
through by both the supervisor and the employee. Delegating works to
employees creates more engagement, and it builds the skill base of the
organization. Also, it frees you to develop your own skills. Furthermore,
if the assigned work is perceived as challenging and engaging, and aligns
with the employees’ underlying interests, you can boost productivity
and company morale, and it gives employees a greater sense of self
esteem and also completion.
Keera Godfrey: Let’s talk a little bit more about a few do’s and don’ts as it relates to
developing staff. When you’re developing your direct reports, this
involves increasing the skill level of each employee by learning your
employees strengths, and then assigning tasks according to their
development needs. Do delegate work that develop your employees’
skills. Also, do keep employees informed about the status of their
request. Also, do make your expectations for results clear when you
delegate tasks. Let’s talk about a few don’ts. Don’t complete tasks
yourself because they require effort to teach others. Don’t treat
employees as a group rather than as individuals. It is best to look at
employees as individuals, look at their individual skills, and be able to
develop their individual skills. You will see that it will contribute to the
development of the entire group. Also, don’t delegate only to people
who already have the skill or task that you’re looking for. Here’s the skill
improvement tips, a few skill improvement tips for you. Take the time to
delegate. Also, delegate work that develops employees’ skills and does
not require your formal authority. Provide clear expectations and follow
up regularly. Another tip would be to set challenging and realistic goals
for your work group. That’s going to be important as they develop their
Keera Godfrey: Let’s move on to talking about managing performance. This is the fourth
supervisory skill, and it involves moving the obstacles to better
performance so employees can meet their own and the organization’s
objectives. The obstacles to employee performance can be found both
within the employee and in the work environment. To be an effective
supervisor, you must be mindful of and also be able to manage
obstacles in both areas. Managing performance, like the other
supervisory skills I mentioned, is a daily task that requires a supervisor
to remain aware of each individual employee. All right. Here’s a scenario
for you. One of your employees is always just a little bit late completing
his or her assigned tasks. It hasn’t really affected the work, but it annoys
others. What should you do in this situation? Should you A, schedule a
formal performance review meeting with the employee and document
it? Should you B, tell others in your group to work around it, it is only a
minor problem? Or C, should you have a short informal meeting in
which you tell this employee about the impact of the problem, and also
discuss solutions? Tell me, what would you do? A, B, or C. I’ll give you a
moment to jot your answer down on a sheet of paper.
Keera Godfrey: The correct answer is C, have a short informal meeting in which you tell
this employee about the impact of the problem, and discuss solutions. A
part of managing performance involves the continual coaching of direct
reports to achieve their potential and understand their career goals.
Coaching can be more effective than formal review. It begins with
looking to the future and deciding what level of performance can
reasonably be expected of an employee. Beyond teaching employees
how to perform, as a supervisor, you should strive to instill in them the
self confidence in their ability to perform. Another aspect of managing
performance is dealing with performance problems which you are
bound to encounter. When these problems occur, the best approach
you can adopt is to maintain a voice of reason and calm. Once again,
taking the perspective of the organization and encouraging employees
to do the same will focus the discussion of performance issues on what
is really important. The key to managing performance is helping
employees gain awareness of their actions.
Keera Godfrey: All right, let’s talk about a little bit of do’s and don’ts as it relates to
managing performance. When managing performance, you must track
the performance of your employees, and help them meet their own
objectives, and those of the organization. In this case, do track
performance and provide feedback on a continual basis. Also, remain
objective in the situation. Look at the task. Get commitment from
employees to improve their performance. Also, let’s talk about a few
don’ts. Don’t review performance only once a year. Judge employees
before you talk with them about their performance. Don’t do that. Talk
first. Also, don’t allow yourself to become emotional in the process.
Keera Godfrey: All right, we’re moving along quite nicely. Let’s talk about some skill
improvement tips. When we’re looking at a few improvement tips as
relates to developing your team, tell people what you expect of them.
Also, monitor their progress and provide feedback. Also, you want to
formally evaluate their performance. We talked about making sure that
this is not done just on an annual basis. Also, learn to distinguish
between problems that need formal attention, and those that do not.
Finally, the last tip I would like to leave with you on this topic is to
confront behind the scene problems when they affect performance.
Keera Godfrey: Okay, we’re moving along. Let’s talk a little bit about managing
relationships. This is the fifth supervisory skill, and it involves developing
and maintaining good relationships with other groups so that the
supervisor’s employees and the organization meet their goals. This
includes relationships with the organization, the direct reports, and also
vendors. This skill encompasses managing these relationships. As a
supervisor, your direct reports do not operate in a vacuum. As
organizations become more connected, both internally and externally,
the ability to manage relationships with other groups has become a key
skill for supervisors. Between human resources, technical experts,
regulatory bodies, and also internal and external customers, as a
supervisor you have your hands full with trying to maintain good
relationships with all of them.
Keera Godfrey: Here’s a scenario under this topic, managing relationships. You have
been blindsided quite a few times recently by changes in the
organization that you don’t know about, but other supervisors did know.
Your group is starting to get upset. What would you do? Would you A,
ask the boss to keep you better informed about what’s happening, B,
make an effort to get to know other supervisors and talk to them about
what’s happening, or C, you’ll never know everything, teach your people
how to react quickly to unexpected things? Go ahead and think about it
for a moment, and jot your answer down, and we’ll talk about it. Yes,
the correct answer is make an effort to get to know other supervisors,
and talk to them about what’s happening. This is going to be very
important as you work through the skills of being an effective
supervisor. Like other supervisory skills, as you’re managing
relationships, it should be guided by the goals of the organization.
Communication is critical to maintaining good relationships, particularly
with groups that regularly interact with the supervisor. Keeping other
groups informed of plans and keeping abreast of the activities of the
rest of the organization ensures that the supervisor’s work group will be
well positioned to succeed.
Keera Godfrey: Let’s move on and talk a little bit about some do’s and don’ts as it
relates to managing relationships. Working closely with others to ensure
that your work group is effective and the organizational goals are met,
this is one of the primary goals of an effective supervisor. In this case, do
keep other groups informed about your plans. Also, become generally
familiar with other work groups. Also, develop relationships with other
supervisors. As it relates to managing relationships, don’t try to acquire
resources by complaining about your group’s situation. Also, don’t try to
have complete knowledge of other groups’ work. Also, don’t turn down
all requests for help that inconvenience your group. Realize that all work
groups within the organization work together and collaborate to help
the entire organization meet its business goals.
Keera Godfrey: Here are a few skill improvement tips for you as supervisors that will
help you to manage relationships a little better. View other work groups
as partners. Again, you’re working for the same organization, helping
the organization meet its business goals. Acquire resources by framing
requests according to what is good for the organization rather than only
your work group. Also, know how and when to ask for support from the
other work groups. Responding to requests from other work groups
helps in the goal to understand the organization and what are their
objectives and goals moving forward.
Keera Godfrey: All right, we made it through. We talked about all of the five supervisory
skills. We talked about organizing the work, developing the staff,
managing relationships. We talked about guiding the work, and we also
talked about managing performance. Again, as seen in this illustration,
the supervisor acts as a liaison between the direction from the business.
Also in managing the work group, to the work group. I encourage you to
continue to fine tune your skills by practicing what you have learned
Keera Godfrey: One other thing I want to leave you with is for those on the call who are
responsible for supervisors, or for aspiring supervisors, you can develop
strengths of effective supervisors by assessing and identifying what they
do, how they need to be developed, and also where are the
performance gaps. Again, just a recap. You’re responsible for what they
do well, how they need to be developed, and where are those
performance gaps. To help you, there is an online supervisory skill
assessment tool that’s developed by HRDQ. For those current
supervisors, you can take the assessment as well and begin to fine tune
and add to the skills that you already have.
Keera Godfrey: Thank you so much for your time today. Thank you for all of the
questions that I’m about to receive. I think we have time for questions.
I’m going to go ahead and turn it over to Sara.
Sara: Great, thank you so much, Keera. We do have time for questions, so go
ahead and use your questions area. If you open that up, there’s a white
space in there. You can type, and then hit submit, and those questions
will come over to us. While we’re waiting for some of those to come in, I
know there are some new people on the line that’s new to HRDQ, so I
just want to introduce you to us. We publish research based experiential
learning products that you can deliver in your own organization. Check
out our online or print self assessments like the supervisory skills
questionnaire, which was the foundation of today’s webinar. The
scenarios you went through are the questions from that assessment,
and then the five model is right from that assessment as well. Check
that out.
Sara: We also have up out of your seat games. We have a supervisory game
called Flight From Savo. We have reproducible workshops that you can
customize as well. If you do need help either learning a training
program, or you would like one of our expert trainers to come onsite
and deliver the session for you like Keera, definitely we have those
services for you. We look forward to being your soft-skills training
resource. Reach out, check us out, and we’ll be happy to help you with
your training needs. Okay, I have some questions coming in. Let’s start
here. Our first question is from Bill, and he asks, “How do you transition
effectively from employee to supervisor?”
Keera Godfrey: Oh, that’s a very good question. When you’re transitioning from the
employee to supervisor, it’s important to make sure that that change is
clearly announced within the organization, that all your peers that were
a part of the work group, that they understand that now you are a
supervisor of the work group, and in some cases you may now be the
supervisor to your former peers. Making sure that that transition is
clearly announced, and also that you develop … that the new supervisor
develop these skills. I would definitely start off with the assessment, and
then going into making sure that this training is actually done for all new
Sara: Great. We have another question here from Judy that’s talking about
remote work. She says, “My staff work in different countries. What
advice do you have for managing remotely?”
Keera Godfrey: I would say … That’s a really good question. For managing remotely,
definitely make use of technology in the process. If there’s any online
type of video conferencing … I enjoy video conferencing because
sometimes it’s very good to see a face as you’re moving along in the
process. But it does require for clear communication. So just as we were
talking about in all of these steps, it requires clear communication. This
model, you will still use every step in this model, and actually even
more, I would say, to make sure that every step of the way, that there’s
clear communication, that you maintain still clear lines and connection
with your team even though they are remote. Even more, I would say
that all five of these steps become important, especially when you’re
dealing with a remote team.
Sara: Good, and we have one more question here, it looks like, that’s come in
today. This is from Chet. He asks, “What is the best technique for
dealing with resistance to change in direction of the organization?”
Keera Godfrey: Let’s see. That’s a good question. The best technique that I’ve seen,
especially in my experience as a change management consultant, in
dealing with resistance, is to really have a clear sense of why is this
change occurring, being able to communicate that. Research has shown
that the best people to communicate change to a team is the
supervisor, or is the manager. As a supervisor, if your organization is
experiencing a high level of change, you are the best person to talk
about that change to your work group or to your team. Therefore, that
requires that you understand why is this change occurring, who does
this change affect, what are the changes that’s occurring, and how will
this affect my job on the day to day basis. Being able to understand that,
understand the vision for that change, and then being able to clearly
communicate that to your team, that’s the clear way of managing
resistance because it gets buy in from your team. Once they buy into the
process, once they buy in and see the vision of that change and what’s
in it for them, and they see the benefits of it, then usually that curtails
Sara: Wonderful. Thank you so much, Keera. It’s always wonderful to hear
your expertise.
Keera Godfrey: Thank you so much.
Sara: Thank you, everyone, for participating today. Check out our upcoming
webinars, and if you have any additional questions you think of after,
feel free to reach out to us by phone or website. We look forward to
seeing you in our next webinar. Happy training.


Keera Godfrey

Dr. Keera Godfrey, MBA, M.S. is a change management and training consultant with 15 years experience helping organizations connect, build, and invest in their greatest assets – people. Whether reengineering business processes, implementing a new information system, or augmenting staff, taking care of people is critical to success. In 2010, Keera founded Naris Communications, a company that specializes in designing training programs, developing stakeholder communications, and delivering leadership training to support organizational transformation, performance improvement, and information system implementations.



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