Event Date: 03/18/2015 (2:00 pm EDT - 3:00 pm EDT)
SARAH SHAFER: Taking the Lead: Five Things Every Supervisor Needs to Know, hosted by HRDQU, and presented by Dr. Annette Cremo. Today’s webinar will last around one hour. If you have any questions you can always type them into the chat box. We will be answering questions as they come in live at the end of the presentation or as a follow-up by email. My name is Sarah Schafer and I will moderate today’s webinar.Dr. Annette Cremo is a seasoned organizational development professional with over 20 years of experience in training, organization development and human resources. Her clients include GlaxoSmithKline, Diacon Lutheran Ministries, Microsoft, Conemaugh Health Systems, the Pennsylvania State Police and Pfieffer.
Welcome and thank you for joining us today.
ANNETTE: Alright, thank you, Sarah. I am excited to be here, and honored that I am doing this seminar. I tell you, the supervisory group is probably my favorite group to work with because at this point in their careers they are so hungry for knowledge and for any help they can get and I think the information here Taking the Lead: Five Things that Supervisor’s Need to Know is just so important to share with them. I often start my supervisory sessions with a quote to the supervisors by saying, “People will stay in an organization because of their supervisor and they will leave an organization because of their supervisor.” And I don’t know how true that is for all of you, but I know it’s certainly true for me. And I hear so many people saying that is so right, that supervisors are that first line of the employees to the organization and they have so much an impact. And that’s why I think it’s important that we do focus our efforts on supervisory training, supervisory learning. And if you look at, I don’t know if it’s like this in many or your organizations, but my supervisors are promoted to a supervisor because they know their job well. They are good at their technical skills. And so, organizations say that’s probably the best person to make a supervisor. They probably are, but what I think organizations neglect to do is realize that supervisory skills are an entirely different skill set than the skills that they have learned. While they may be technically proficient when it comes to supervision, we have not given them the skills they need to be successful.
And so this webinar is designed just to look at some of those things. The agenda for today reviewing the five key supervisory skills, we want to look at a proven research supervisory model that does work, identify supervisory strengths and weaknesses, and how to do that through an assessment tool, I’m going to give you some examples of that, the application situation and best action, supervisory do’s and don’ts, we’ll talk about that, how to develop the supervisory skills and then any questions and answers you may have.
I do have a question for you, and I’d like you just to jot that down in your chat box if you could for a minute. Think about the best supervisor that you’ve had in your lifetime. And what are the two things that they did that made them the greatest supervisor in your mind. So take a minute and if you would just jot those things down, and I’m going to read them as they come through.
Alright good. We’ve got a lot of answers here. That’s great. Some of the things people have written are that I could trust them; they had my back; they communicated well; they coached me to improve my performance; they help me develop; they were honest; they had great feedback for me. And I see one that said they did their job well and that I think so far is all that I’ve gotten. That’s kind of interesting when you look at what makes a great supervisor.
Great supervision- You’ve just been given an award for Excellence in Supervision the year of 2013. So we’re looking at last year. You got the award. It was created and voted on by employees. What makes excellence in supervision? This is another thing I’m going to ask you to jot down your answers for: A or B. What makes excellent supervision, technical expertise or excellent relationship? If you could just put those down right now. OK, I see some of you have technical expertise as being priority one. Most of you have the excellent relationships. Well, research has shown that excellent relationships is probably the key to great supervision- excellent relationships with the employees, excellent relationships with the organization and even external vendors.
Great supervision is a balance between the goals of the organization and the needs of the work group. You develop great supervisors by identifying what they do well; how they need to be developed; and where there are any performance gaps if any. I’ll tell you, the supervisory primary role is a link between management of the organization and the employees. The supervisors are accountable to the management for making sure the work gets done and make sure it gets done the right way according to expectations set by the organization and also another responsibility is to their own employees, to the team for helping them develop.
So, this is the model that we’re looking at. And you’ll see in this model that the supervisor uses direction from the organization to perform his or her job and this direction is needed to guide the work that the group does. And you do this in a couple of ways. In order to accomplish the work, the supervisor has to organize the work, they have to develop the work, develop their employees, manage performance, both formally and informally and manage relationships of not just one group, but many groups. So when you’re looking at model here, you’ll see the arrow at the end says manage relations and I think it’s not just with the work group, but the supervisor needs to manage relationships with the work group, with their manager, with the organization. It could be manage relationships with vendors, or with anybody else, maybe with the government, anybody else that they deal with. So, that’s to me one of the key aspects of a supervisory skill set. It’s important to know here that all these skills that we’re going to be talking about are not just automatically known by supervisors. They do require work. They require information. They require training. They require discovery. And the supervisor should not be able to handle every situation the right way right from the start.
I think supervisors need to know that in order to learn they have to balance the organizational perspective and also how they’re going to develop their employees.
So what we want to do for the rest of the webinar is to start to take a deeper dive onto this and look at each one of these specific skill sets that the supervisors need.
We want to go now into guiding the work. I’m going to ask you a question INAUDIBLE application or situation, and I’m going to read this and I’d like you then to put in your chat box the answer you think is the best answer for this situation.
A project your group received 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 is. How would you start this discussion?
Would you tell your group that you need to know what’s going on with the project and tell them you’re going to accept whatever changes they suggest?
Would you start by stating clearly that the project must be completed and then discuss their expectations for completion and yours?
Or would you tell the group that the project is now a top priority and give them a completion date?
So, jot your answers down please in the chat and then take about 15 seconds to do that. I want to see what I get from that. Alright, thank you. And so the best answer for this is by stating clearly that the project must be completed then discuss the expectations for completion and yours. In guiding the work, I want you to remember that it involves understanding the direction of the organization and translating that into actionable plans for the work group. I think it’s important that you know that people know what the clear expectations are from the start and then that the discussion also includes a team commitment when it comes to guiding the work.
From a supervisor’s viewpoint, the work must be, sometimes the vision or the mission of the organization is known to the supervisor and it’s broader than the work group itself. They understand the bigger picture and it could include the organization’s goals, it could be their mission, it could be where their strategic vision of where they’re going. It’s not always easy for a supervisor to be focused just on the needs of the work group, although if you think about supervision itself, supervisors came from that work group and their perspective probably is focused on that group. But now the direction of her or his group has to be also supportive of the organization. And sometimes giving out the direction of what has to be done, success is not always the same thing. The supervisor has to align their work toward the organization’s goals in a way that the employees know that their needs, their challenges, their concerns are also being understood and considered. And it may not be comfortable, particularly with a new supervisor, because you have this sort of phenomenon from buddy to boss, where I was your coworker and friend for many, many years and we used to do things a certain way and say things a certain way, and all of a sudden now I have become your boss, but it’s important for that supervisor to act in a way that she or he is now aligned with the organization goals.
And from guiding the work, naturally comes planning and what has to be done next, so planning the work flow follows in a natural direction to the organization. And they have to make specific commitments to it and sort of hold themselves to the standard of being in alignment with the organization yet maintaining the balance of caring for the employees. But I think at this point here of guiding the work, the supervisors need to know what the goals, the strategy, the big picture of the organization is. And they need to know how to plan and they need to know their employees. How do I give certain employees information, because everybody is different.
Guiding the work, some do’s and don’t’s: Understanding the needs of the organization and planning your group’s work effectively to meet those needs. What you want to do is make sure that first of all, you support your organization’s goals. Get your employees involved in the planning process so you hear what they have to say. Act decisively. Make plans with specific progress review and dates. So people know exactly where they are and it has to do with holding them accountable as well. And holding yourself accountable as a supervisor.
What you don’t want to do is tell employees that you disagree with management positions, that I don’t know why they’re saying this or making us do things. You always have to support management and the organization’s decisions. Consistently prepare detailed plans without consulting your employees- you don’t want to do that. You do not want to put off making decisions until you’re sure that they are perfect. One of the things I hear from employees that their supervisor can’t make a decision and it’s like, it’s already done and they should have done it ahead of time. And the last one is fail to assign responsibility for tasks. You want to make sure that people know what they are responsible for by telling them what that is.
Guiding the work- For skill improvement some suggestions that we have is make it clear to the work group that you support the organization and its goals. Provide direction even when in unfamiliar areas. Balance asking for information by acting decisively. Plan in advance, who what and how. Create specific and realistic plans. And gain commitment by actively involving your work group. Sit down listen to what they have to say. You may not agree. Their plans may not be what you think they should be. But I think it’s important you also get back to them and let them know the why- if it’s not going to work they may get a suggestion. So get back to them on it all the time.
Alright, the next one we want to do is organizing the work. In organizing the work, I want you to keep in mind that organizing the work revolves around reviewing assignments and tasks, it looks at handling priorities, and also dealing with unexpected problems that arise naturally in the workplace. Here’s our next question for you to see how you would answer to this application. You have appointed one of your people as the leader in a project. It’s clear that another employee is really seen as the leader in the group. The project is progressing well, but it worries you that the leadership is not where you want it to be, so what would you do?
Make it clear to the group who the leader is and who you support. Don’t tolerate other sources of leadership.
Appoint a leader who has the group’s support as the formal project leader.
So take a minute and jot down your answers in the chat, A, B, or C.
Aright, I think we have most people said they would say C, and C is the answer, don’t interfere. Why? Because in the most cases, informal leadership is not harmful to the organization. As you know, I think in many organizations, priorities shift, focus shifts, and I think sometimes in many organizations, it’s constant reorganization or change in some way and that is difficult. And I think what’s important here in organizing the work and letting people know what they’re supposed to do is to communicate understanding of priorities in the organization and make sure the supervisor tells the work group or their team what is expected from them. The supervisor I think at all times needs to keep the needs of their team in mind as they organize the work. What are the strengths of some of the people on the team? What are some of the challenges? What are the priorities of the organization?
And in organizing the work, to do it efficiently requires the assistance of people with more knowledge sometimes than yourself, which means that sometimes we have to go outside of the people’s work group. And I know the supervisors that I speak with mean they are proud they have gotten this position and sometimes they don’t want to go out and ask anybody else because they don’t want to be seen as, in their terms, incompetent, but it’s not. They have to make sure that they start communicating across boundaries and getting information from other groups. As a supervisor, they’re always learning. Learning does not stop, and they’re going to be learning from other groups in the organization. In order to organize the work the best, we have to make sure we have that broad base of knowledge so we can make sure that work gets done from our team the best way possible.
Organizing the work- Let’s look at some of the do’s and don’ts here. First of all, align people and allocate resources to accomplish the work goals. And that’s what organizing the work is all about. What you want to make sure that you do is set schedules to meet organizational goals; use others’ expertise when necessary; keep track of what’s going on in the information in the organization. Involve others if you have to reorganize. What you don’t want to do is accept work changes without question. INAUDIBLE you know what’s going on and why it’s going on because you’re going to be asked that. Don’t show favoritism or fail to assign unpleasant tasks. Don’t fail to assign responsibility for necessary tasks. Don’t try to have complete knowledge of all aspects of the work. And one other don’t I want to add in there: Don’t be afraid to hold people accountable for the work that you’ve assigned. That’s one of I think the biggest challenges. We’re going to get later on in some of the competencies especially when it comes to managing performance. But accountability is one of the things I think many organizations and supervisors should be working on so when people make that commitment, we are able to hold them accountable.
Organizing the work- Some skill improvement areas are how to handle shifting priorities. Investigate unforeseen problems and know how you might want to solve them. Consult employees to gain complete knowledge of the work. As a supervisor, you may have some hands-on, supervisors do tend to get the work done themselves by doing it themselves and sometimes we can’t get away from that but, as a supervisor, you should be getting the work done through people. So, the people who are on the front line doing the work have a good knowledge of maybe where the glitches are, where the concerns are, what’s going well, what’s not going well. So consult them, pick their brains and see, because it makes them involved more in the team and in the organization. You want to make sure that they follow the rules, regulations, and guidelines of the organization and also accommodate the needs of your work group when they are not in direct conflict with organizational needs. And again I think we also have to point out here that every organization is different, so what works in one may not work in the other. So, you as the trainer or as the manager need to know what your organization expects from that supervisor and go in alignment or accordance with that.
The next one is developing your staff. And we talk about developing your staff, it involves actively working to increase the skill level of each employee by learning his or her strengths and assigning tasks according to development needs of your team or of your staff. Keeping that in mind I want you to look at this and answer this question: 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 that confidence?
Would it be A. Give that employee a challenging assignment that you are sure he or she can complete with some effort?
Give the employee an easy assignment and then praise them when the assignment is completed?
Or would you do C., praise the employee publicly each time he or she completes an assignment?
So, if you take 10 seconds just to jot down your answers there in the chat box please. OK, the best action, how would you do it? Give the employee a challenging assignment that you are sure they can complete with some effort. So you want to stretch them a little bit. It creates more engagement; it helps them get greater self esteem on completion and for me also it helps with some of their critical thinking and problem-solving skills and shows them that they could win.
When you are developing your staff it’s important to know how much each employee knows and to know them as an individual. Every employee has their own skills, abilities, needs and personality and the supervisor who is aware of these unique features of each one of their team will be equipped to help him or her meet their potential. In developing your staff it is an investment of your time. And I know my supervisors say that’s one thing we don’t have enough of. We’re required to do so much in so little time, and it’s not on our priority. Well, I think, as most of you know, you either pay me now or pay me later. We have to make sure we get the work done, but if we don’t train our staff or help our employees on how to do it, we will become trapped in just getting the work done ourselves without having the staff or your team complete it. The way out of this trap is through delegation. Delegation works to build employees’ confidence and skill base and doing things in the organization and it also adds some challenging and engaging work for the employee, too. And I think some of my supervisors, really they hesitate on delegation because what I hear from them is “I’ve done it before. I know how to do it the best way. So I’m going to tell them what to do. I’m just going to do it myself.” That’s how the work could get done, but, in order to be a great supervisor, and I said this in the first question that I asked you was that they were able to coach me to a higher level of development and I think that’s one thing that employees are looking to do.
In developing your staff some things that you should do is delegate work so it develops your employees’ skills. You want to get to know the employees on an individual basis. You want to keep employees informed about the status of their requests. Let them know. And make sure your expectations for results are clear when you delegate the tasks. And I think this also goes into when you look at their personality, their communication styles, sometimes we delegate or tell people things and we think they know what they mean, and when the task is done, you may not get the exact thing that you anticipated because the employee may not have heard what you said. So I think communication is the key. If you look at communication in the workplace, communication is the No. 1 problem out there. Either insufficient, inconsistent, or confusing communication. So, remember that in developing the staff, communication is one of the keys there. What you don’t want to do is complete tasks yourself because they require effort to teach others. Yes it does require time, but it’s going to pay off in the long run. Treat employees as a group rather than individuals. Everybody is an individual. They all have their unique style, their unique competency and their unique personality and I think we have to celebrate that and use that and as a supervisor, know what that is. You don’t want to forget to tell your employees about the status of their requests, whether it’s favorable or unfavorable, at least they know and last, you don’t want to delegate to people only who already have the skill for the task, but you develop them by giving other people the opportunity to learn that particular skill.
The skill improvement here: Take time to delegate. Know how to delegate. Know how to challenge. Delegate work that develops employees’ skills and does not require your formal authority. Delegate to employees who need development and are who willing to be developed. And I think when we go on to managing performance, it says willingness to be developed, some people do not want to be developed and in that case sometimes you have to manage them out of the organization, but that’s OK. You want to make sure you have a strong team. Next you want to provide clear expectations and follow up regularly with people to make sure just check in and see how they’re doing. And lastly set challenging and realistic goals for your work group.
Our next slide here is in managing performance. Managing performance is one of the more challenging things that a supervisor has to do. In managing performance, it includes monitoring performance of the employees and helping them meet their own objectives as well as those of the organization. It involves a discussion. It involves coaching, and it’s an ongoing process. It’s not just a once and done, once-a-year thing. It’s a weekly, it’s a bi-weekly thing that you need to do with your employees. Here’s a sample of the question you can ask them, the application. One of your employees is always a little bit late in completing his or her assigned tasks. It hasn’t really affected the work but annoys others. What would you do?
Schedule a formal performance review meeting with the employee and document it?
Tell others in your work group to work around it. It’s only a minor problem.
Or, have a short, informal meeting in which you tell this employee about the impact of the problem and discuss solutions with him or her.
So, if you would take a minute and put it in your chat box. Which one would you choose?
Alright, let’s see what you chose. On the next one it is C. So most of you did choose C, have a short, informal meeting in which you tell the employee about the impact about the problem and discuss the solution. Why is this the right answer? Coaching is more effective than a formal review and it helps employees gain awareness of their actions. So in managing performance, I think coaching is just so important and the obstacles that employee performance can be found when you’re looking at employee performance you can look within the employee, but also within the work environment. Do you have a supportive work environment that allows for accountability or not? Some things you have to look at. An effective supervisor knows what the obstacles are and is able to manage those obstacles.
In managing performance, like other skills, it’s a daily task. It just doesn’t happen once and done. And a large part of managing performance, I think, is continually developing confidence in the employee and also competence within that employee. It’s all about coaching. I think if you read some of the literature out there, I don’t who I was reading that coaching is one thing we want supervisors and managers to do, but yet do not teach them the process of coaching, and it is a process. If you think about the great coaches in your life as you were growing up, they knew you as a person, they knew what you were really good at, they knew what your challenges were, they also knew how to play the game. They knew what it would take to win. And they were able to develop you in order to get that performance from you. And if you think of that model as you go into coaching, the coaching begins with a look at what is expected from the employee, what the employee expects as well, and it goes beyond teaching how to perform. It goes into really having them know it is about working with them that you care about them, you care about their development, you care about not just them at work, but who they are as a person. Coaching for me is more asking and digging down deep and helping the employee self discover in themselves what they need to do.
Some of you know me, and I have a large family. I have eight kids, and when I tell my kids what to do, and how to do it, sometimes they do, and for the most part, they don’t. But I’ll tell you if their idea about what to do and how to do it, every time I will get that job done the way they said. Once they make that commitment, they go ahead and do it. It’s the same thing I think with the supervisory and the employee relationship, that if we allow the employees to self discover and make a commitment or promise that this is what I’m going to do to make myself better, you’re more likely to get that. The result that you want and what they want, too. When you look at coaching, too, all you think about is a couple of things. I think it’s important to talk about here that first of all we have to set expectations for the employee. And you have to let employees know what these expectations are. Some of my supervisors will say, yes, but they should know that they should be doing this. Maybe, but have you ever told them? No, but they should know. So as a supervisor, make sure your supervisors set expectations, know what’s expected of the employee to get the job done, but also dig down even more to make sure those expectations are behavioral based as opposed to you have to do it in a good way or something that a person could not see or grasp. So, look at the expectations and put them into behavioral terms.
Next thing again is definitely make sure the employee knows what these expectations are and let them know how you’re going to coach them. What are my expectations? What happens if you don’t meet the expectations? How are we going to help you with your skill? Or put you on a performance improvement. So whatever, and again this is according to your organization, what the progressive discipline policies are or growth policies are to keep them informed of that. So once you set the expectations, do the behaviors, as a supervisor, you have to monitor performance. And this is done on a daily, on an hourly, on a minute-by-minute basis. Supervisors have to know exactly what’s going on, making sure they document that as well, the good and the things that will develop into performance gaps. And I think what supervisors also need to do, you’ll see with that first question I asked about the great supervisor, is that you know they also told me when I did good. When they caught me doing something right. Because when you catch somebody doing something right, they know first of all that you’ve been watching them, second of all that you value them especially when you say that you for what they have done right.
I’ll tell you many times, I’ll tell you what happened in my life and it’s a personal story. When I was married, I had a deck that had to be done, and it had to be power washed and I thought I’m going to do the power washing when my husband’s away. And I was all excited about it, got the power washer out, did the deck, and I was so proud of what I did. He came home from his meeting, and I took him out to the deck and I said, oh, look what I did. I was just so happy. Like, my bubble was so big. And he looked at the deck, looked around it for a while, and he came back to me and he said, you missed a spot. And that sort of burst my bubble. And when I talk to my supervisors, they say, you know what, we do that a lot, too. Instead of looking for the good and finding the good, and rewarding the good, and commenting on what they did good, we go around looking for, you missed a spot. And I’ll tell you, sometimes when you get that, it is such a demotivator for employees. So that’s why I say, when you monitor performance, find out what the good is and also make sure you acknowledge that good. You have to coach them and when you give them feedback about their coaching, so the coaching process is have that conversation with them. Let them know what the expectations are. Let them know what you observe. Let them know that they did well and let them know what the performance gap is and see how you can help them with that to manage their own performance and increase it.
And then the last part of this whole coaching process is to make sure that you hold them accountable for what they committed to do. So in the coaching itself, you are asking for a commitment from them into what they commit to you to do, and then also at the end then, let them know that you will be observing their performance and holding them accountable. And that’s all in managing performance. So I think this is like one of the biggest things for me when it comes to supervision. And I think this is one area that is probably the most difficult for my supervisors to learn as well, but one of the most important.
Managing performance is tracking the performance of your employees and helping them meet their own objectives and those of the organization. So what you want to do is track performance and provide feedback on a continual basis, not just once a year, not just every six months, continual. I like it once a week to be honest with you. Judge performance and how it affects the organization. So when you’re giving that feedback, this is what I observed, this is how it impacts you, this is how it impacts our team, and this is how it impacts the organization, so they can also start seeing the big picture. You want to remain objective and I think by putting things in behavioral terms it allows you to be objective because when you say to them these are the expectations in behavioral terms, and this is what I observed in behavioral terms, it is very objective and there is no wiggle room whatsoever there. The last thing you want to do is get commitment from the employees to improve their performance.
What you don’t want to do is review only once a year. Judge before you talk to the employees about their performance. Make those assumptions. Allow yourself to become emotional. And try to fix every problem no matter how small. The two there I just want to briefly elaborate on is judge employees before you talk with them about their performance. This has to do with our mindset. And sometimes our mindset is such that we make assumptions and sometimes wrong assumptions about people or about what they did. The example I give my class is that sometimes your phone is going to ring, your cell phone is going to ring, you see who it is, you say oh crap, I don’t want to talk to him. He’s nothing but trouble. And I think a supervisor sometimes they do that too when a person comes in and speaks with them, they make the assumption or judgment prior to listening objectively to the individual or situation. So it’s difficult to do and it takes practice, but you don’t want to judge employees. You want to be very objective, listen to what they have to say, and then after that, only to analyze what has been said and what the next step is.
The next thing is to let yourself become emotional. This goes into a little bit of emotional intelligence. I know we had other webinars that are on here which are amazing. That whole emotionality is kind of interesting because people in general know how to behave in order to get what they want. I tell my supervisors that their employees know which button on their forehead to push in order to get the result that they desire sometimes. So it could be that I’m going to get angry. Or I’m going to give excuses. Or I’m going to cry. Because I know when I do that, my supervisor backs down and gives me what I want. So, as a supervisor, what you have to do is sort of take stock of your emotional triggers and know how, this is where it goes into the emotional intelligence, know how your body reacts to those, because sometimes our behaviors give that away even though we’re trying to suppress that. So know what your triggers are and know how you react to it and learn how to control that reaction so you don’t become emotional in front of the employee.
Skill improvement here: Perform these steps on an ongoing basis with employees; tell them what you expect from them; monitor progress; and formally evaluate their performance. Provide suggested actions to improve employee performance. You provide the suggestions, but they will decide on what they want to do or the best way to do it. Address performance problems as soon as they occur. The sooner you can get to an action that you either want them to continue or to discontinue the more likely you are to get the result that you’re looking for. You want to learn to distinguish problems that need formal attention and those that do not. And then lastly, confront behind-the-scenes problems only when they affect performance.
And the last one here is managing relations. Managing relations involves developing and maintaining connections with other groups internally and externally to the organization in order to increase your effectiveness and to meet goals that have been set for you by the organization.
This is the scenario: You have been blindsided quite a few times recently by changes in the organization. Boy, doesn’t that sound familiar? That you didn’t know about, but other supervisors knew. Your group is starting to get upset. Your team is starting to get upset about this. What would you do?
Ask your boss to keep you better informed about what is happening in the organization. And keep in mind this is under managing relationships all internally in the organization.
Make an effort to get to know other supervisors and talk to them about what’s happening.
You’ll never know everything. Teach your people how to react quickly to unexpected things. Shift happens.
Alright, so, if you want to answer that question on your chat. Take about 5 seconds to do that and we’ll see what you come up with. Interesting, we’re having As and Bs are both coming in sort of equal. So let’s see what the answer is. It is make an effort to get to know other supervisors and talk to them about what’s happening. And the reason that this is the correct answer here is it is about managing relationships within the team, within your department, within your organization. So a good source of information are other supervisors. Other supervisors are also a good source of support in the organization. Supervisors and their employees do not operate in a vacuum. It takes a whole team, it takes many different departments in the organization. You may have touch points in HR, IT, technical experts in the organization, regulatory functions, government, finances. So, it’s not just you and what your team does. It’s everybody else in the organization. And sometimes it’s difficult I think in today’s world because we not only have employees and other contributors who are in our organization, but also people who are off site, people who we manage remotely, who we supervise remotely, which is another challenge. So that’s why it’s important to get to know people and keep that communication going. Communication is crucial to maintaining good relationships, particularly with the groups that impact your team, your department, and the organization. It can be stressful for a supervisor because sometimes the other groups’ needs are in conflict with the needs of her or his team and the supervisor has to know how to maintain that delicate relationship with all those groups.
Managing relations- Work closely with others to ensure that your work group is effective and the organization’s goals are met. What you want to make sure that you do is keep other groups informed about what’s going on, what your plans are. Let them know, don’t operate in a vacuum yourself. Consider others’ requests for help based on the needs of the organization. Become generally familiar with other groups’ work and develop relationships with other supervisors. I know one of the things that has been successful in the organizations I work with are supervisors coming together on a weekly, a bi-weekly, a monthly basis to have a conversation about what challenges they face, what’s happening, keeping people informed, and also just informally networking and growing the relationship between those other supervisors.
Things you don’t want to do: Don’t try to acquire the resources by complaining about your group’s situation. Don’t try to have complete knowledge of other people’s work or their group’s work. You’ll never know. You have not walked in their shoes. You don’t want to turn down all requests for help even though it may inconvenience your group and you don’t want to accept work from other groups without question. Make sure you know what their rationale is for, what their expectations are and how you’re going to be working with them. So the more you can find out the better.
In managing relations, the skill improvement here is view other work groups or teams or departments in your organization as partners. You’re all working together to get the job done for the organization. And how can you do that the best way? Acquire resources by framing requests according to what is good for the organization, not just what’s good for your work group or good for you. Know how and when to ask for support from other work groups. It’s about that communication and relationships that you have. Respond to requests from other work groups by understanding your organization’s goals and network with other supervisors for help and information.
So if you look at this again just to review the five supervisory skills and how they are interacting with each other is the organization is sort of the guiding force for the supervisor and the supervisor seems to be like the intermediary between the employees and the management and the organization, but the supervisor’s main job is getting the work done through the people that she or he supervises by first of all guiding the work, making plans, letting people know what’s expected of them; organizing the work in a way that it’s understandable and doable; developing their staff, helping them grow; managing performance, coaching is in here and lastly, managing relationships between everybody that’s included in your organization and outside of your organization, anybody that makes a difference to the work that you do.
OK, Sarah at this point I am complete with my part of the presentation here.
SARAH: Alright, perfect. Thank you so much, that was wonderful. And we actually do have time for some live Q and A, so attendees, why don’t you go ahead and submit those questions into your chat window right now. And while we wait for those questions to come in, let me share a little bit about the foundation of the session today. And that is called the Supervisory Skills Questionnaire. This assessment is 45 percent off. You can review the facilitator’s set for 30 days risk free and you can use the coupon code WebinarTTL at checkout. And this set includes the guide, the PowerPoint presentation, samples of the paper and online assessments, as well as developmental background information. Alright, great and it looks like do we have a number of questions coming in, so why don’t we go ahead and get started?
It looks like our first question is coming from Lou: Which one of the skills seems to give supervisors the most difficulty?
ANNETTE: Alright, thank you. Before I even answer that question, Lou, I want to, as Sarah was talking, I went back to that first question that I asked about that memorable supervisor that you had and what made them so great and I am going to say that, I didn’t look at all the answers before, but as she was talking I was doing that, that 99 percent of the responses had to do with interpersonal skills. Growing, developing, telling me what’s expected, all the things we just talked about so it was kind of interesting to put that list together and compare it to what we just talked about in this webinar.
Alright, the question was one which is the most difficult for supervisors. And this is not from my perspective, but from the perspective of supervisors that I do instruct. And it is how to manage their performance. How do I give them feedback? I don’t want them to dislike me; I want them to still like me. I want them to get the job done, but I’m hesitant to say anything because I don’t want to hurt their feelings. And I think as a supervisor, what we need to do is sort of change our mindset, because by letting a person know what’s expected of them and letting them know if they are not living up to those expectations, is a gift to them. And look at it as a gift not as something that you’re telling them that they’re not good or they’re not doing something right, something negative. Look at it as a positive, because I know from my perspective, if I was not doing something correctly, I would want to know. I’d want to know if I had toilet paper hanging from my shoe, let me know. If I have something that’s not working right and if I don’t look right. So, I think when you look at the supervisor relationship, the same thing is true with the employees. The employees I think value, they want to go a good job. And they want to know when as soon as possible when they’re not doing that job and giving them that feedback, but I think coaching is a skill of itself and I think also requires another session with them on how to effectively coach and if you are their trainer or even their manager, when they start their coaching with their employees, sit in with them and give them feedback. Sort of coach the coach, because is it not just a I’m going to give you this information in the seminar or you’re going to read this on line or you’re going to do it. It takes practice and it takes someone who knows about coaching on how to do that in order to make sure you manage the performance the best way.
SARAH: Our next question is coming from Angela: According to your five skills, which do you feel is the most important to making a good supervisor?
ANNETTE: Wow, Angela, good question. I’m going to have to say they’re all equally important because missing one, you’re sort of missing an element of what it takes to be a great supervisor, so if I can give great feedback, and I’m really good at that and yet I’m missing one that says I can’t manage relations, it could affect me negatively, or if I’m perhaps good at organizing the work, but I don’t have that relationship, interpersonal skill, I’m not very good, so I think it takes, they all sort of intertwine with each other and affect each other so they’re all important. I hope that answers your question. I think they’re all important. They do take development.
SARAH: Alright, thank you. And our next question is coming from Dillon: When is it a good time to give this program to my supervisors?
ANNETTE: Dillon, awesome question. If you are a manager in training make sure you prepare people even if they aren’t supervisors, let them know about these skills. There are sub-skills within each one of these supervisory skill sets that you can start teaching your employees right now. Before they had been promoted to a supervisor, sometimes by the time you promote them to a supervisor, it may be too late because now they’re viewed as they’re supposed to know how to be a supervisor, so, the more skills and tools you can give them to put in their tool box, for the time they do become the supervisor, the better off they are going to be and the more successful, you’re setting them up for success and not failure.
SARAH: Alright, great, thank you. And it looks like our next question is coming from Bob: How do you ensure there is an application or a transfer of learning after the program?
ANNETTE: Wow, awesome, alright, Bob, what I like to do at the end of the program is to make sure they have an action plan or commitment to say as a result of and I in fact have with this one would like them to make a commitment after each one of the skill sets from the training that you just did and have you tell them what action, specific measurable action, make this INAUDIBLE that they’re going to accomplish when they get back into the workplace and make sure you follow up on that. Ask them how they’re going to do it and then check up on them to see if they’ve done it or not. If they had any challenges when they were trying to do it. But you want to make sure as with any kind of education or learning, is that you want to have that application. So I sort of think about when I’m designing training programs is the what am I going to tell them? So what? Why is it important? Now what? What are you going to do with it? How are you going to use it? So I think anything you can do like an action plan I think would be important.
SARAH: This question is coming from Irma: Do these apply to managers as well? What’s the difference between a manager and a supervisor?
ANNETTE: OK, Irma, good question. Thank you. I think these are base skills that a supervisor needs to know once they take the position of a supervisor and as a manager they are still important, but as you go up in the ranks of the organization in leadership, you’re probably adding to this skill set, so, to me, this is sort of baseline skills, and as I said before with Bob, there’s even more. There’s other subsets in there like personality style. What’s my communication style? I mean that’s another thing you want to know. How to do the coaching, that’s another sub-skill. You want to know how to organize, how to plan, so all of those are sub skills that are in there but they sort of build on each other and they come together so by the time you’re a manager you may be getting into a higher level skill set with them. But these are foundational skills that definitely can be given to managers as well.
SARAH: Alright, perfect. Thanks. I think maybe we do have time for a few more questions. This question is coming from Shoshannah: What do you recommend when the executive leader doesn’t support supervisory development, coaching, etc.?
ANNETTE: Shoshannah, you know what? That’s sort of the key to everything to have organizational support because I don’t know Shoshannah what position you have in the organization if it is a trainer or if it is a manager. But if it’s a trainer somehow you have to go ask her or him, make your case for if you do the, a cost-benefit analysis really, what is the benefit of giving the supervisors this training? And it could be you look at employee satisfaction surveys, it could be you look at attrition rates in the organization, to see why people are leaving, why they’re staying and what they need and make the case that way. But if you felt comfortable I would have a conversation with your exec and find out what makes him say that. Sort of find out the why behind the what he’s saying to you. Is it because of finances? Is it because he just doesn’t believe in it? Is it because it didn’t work before? So maybe do a little more of your own digging to find out the why behind the what of that comment. But, that’s one of the biggest challenges out there when you don’t have leadership support of anything you’re trying to do.
SARAH: Thank you. And it looks like we have time for one more question. And this question is coming from Jessica and it’s about the actual assessment, what is any other instrument or activities I can use with this program?
ANNETTE: And this is just from what I have used in this program especially when I see, sometimes when you do the assessment you’ll see that supervisors rate themselves higher than you really think they are. Or when they answer the questions they may get a higher rating than you actually think. They don’t know the why behind the what there. So you may see that they answer the questions correctly but for the wrong reason, so you want to dig down a little bit first of all. Some of the other things again I have used were what is my style, my communication style. There’s also instruments on conflict resolution on how to deal with it in the correct way. Influencing assertively is great when it has to do with managing relations as also the communication one is. There are some on using it in coaching to maybe make this a more robust program. But there’s so many out there. You may want to look on the website to see what’s available from HRDQ to see some of the things they have too because there’s some really nice add-ons here. The other thing I do that I’ve done with this program is I make an activity card that gives them a scenario and ask them to respond to it. So these are just my own made up things so just an activity so they would ask them, sort of do a role play with them to say maybe an employee comes to you with concerns about this or that or the other and you don’t agree with them , they’re not in line with the organization how would you actually talk to them? So it has to do with giving them feedback so having them practice in class some activities that I would do. Not assessments, but just activities that you can do.
SARAH: OK, well great and Annette, would you just like to add any final thoughts before I go ahead and wrap this up?
ANNETTE: I really enjoyed this webinar and thank you all for joining us and I hope I gave you some information you can take back and use. And certainly would love to hear any other questions that you have. I’d be more than happy to answer those questions. Thank you, Sarah.
SARAH: OK, perfect, and thank you so much, that’s all the time we have for today. If you submitted a question and we did not get time to it, you’re going to receive a response to that question probably early next week. So thank you for your time, and we hope you found today’s webinar informative.
What makes a supervisor great? While there may not be a quick and simple answer to that question, there is a certain skill set 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.
Join us for an informative webinar that will help you, the trainer, get up to speed fast.
Participants Will Learn
- How to identify a supervisor’s strengths and weaknesses
- Actions supervisors should avoid
- How to help supervisors plan, prioritize, and delegate
- Things supervisors can do to build productive relationships
Who Should Attend
- Organization development professionals
- Human resources professionals
- Supervisors and managers
Dr. Annette Cremo is a seasoned organizational development professional with over 20 years of experience in training, organization development, and human resources. Her clients include GlaxoSmithKline, Diakon Lutheran Ministries, Microsoft, Conamaugh Health Systems, the Pennsylvania State Police and Pfizer. In addition, Dr. Cremo is an adjunct university instructor, leading graduate courses at the Pennsylvania State University, University of Scranton and Central Penn College.
An expert in organizational development, 360 development and feedback, culture change, team building and leadership, Dr. Cremo earned her PhD in Psychoeducational Process from Temple University. Her doctoral research examined the active learning process for high-performance work teams and the group problem-solving process.
For more than 35 years, HRDQ has been a trusted developer of experiential learning resources that help to improve the performance of individuals, teams, and organizations. It offers a wide range of reliable, research-based corporate training materials for soft-skills and HR training and development.