Leadership Development: It Takes a Community

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Leadership Development: It Takes a Community

WRITTEN BY DR. DAVID WATTERSON, FOUNDER OF ERC'S AFFILIATE, WATTERSON & ASSOCIATES, INC.

After more than four decades of studying and observing the process of developing leaders, I am convinced more than ever that it takes a multitude of educational inputs, life and work experiences, and learnings to culminate in a wise and effective leader. As much as we tend to look for fast and simple answers, it does not happen quickly.
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The 10 Crucial Skills for Supervisors to Have

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The 10 Crucial Skills for Supervisors to Have

Supervising and managing a group of employees who all have different personalities, skill sets and who may or may not interact well with each other is no easy task. New supervisors are no longer solely responsible for their own results and performance. Instead, they must now facilitate results and success through their employees. One of a supervisor’s main roles is to establish goals and lead a team of people to achieve them.

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The 4 Most Common New Manager Mistakes

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While the transition to a management position is exciting, it also isn't easy. Whether it is you or a colleague that is taking on this new opportunity, a leadership role puts one in charge of organizational aspects that present new challenges. Avoiding these 4 common new manager mistakes will help new managers successfully transition their relationships, skillset, and role within an organization.
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I Used to Be Their Friend, Now I'm Their Boss

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Friendships in the workplace aren’t bad (in fact, they can be very positive), but young workers have a tendency to view their coworkers as friends more than other employees. When friends start getting promoted and managing one another, these relationships can pose problems.

How to identify the ‘friend’

This is a leader that is congenial, well-liked, and has above average soft-skills. They are extremely supportive of their employees and approach management interactions more like coworker relationships.

This individual refrains from having tough or crucial conversations with their employees and fails to acknowledge or manage conflict, frequently avoiding it altogether.

They often don’t manage performance well, and put up with poor results to maintain a positive relationship.

In essence, they focus on being their employees’ friend, rather than their manager or leader. In fact, some of these leaders may be managing previous coworkers or friends of theirs. They may even engage in behaviors that are considered unprofessional for a leader, such as participating in informal social activities, becoming Facebook friends with their subordinates, or gossiping about other employees.

How to develop

This individual doesn’t necessarily need training in soft skills, but does need training on core management principles, such as performance management, feedback, and conflict management.

These will be uncomfortable topics for this individual that you may need to address multiple times. They may also need to be coached on how to balance creating supportive relationships and interactions with their employees with results and getting the job done.

Some will also need to better understand the role of the leader and how to act professionally with their employees.

Supervisory Training

A lot of the time, an employee who has recently been promoted to a supervisor role doesn't always have the resources available to them to be a successful leader. By sending your employee through a supervisor training series, it will teach them the fundamental topics that any manager would need in order to lead in the most effective manner.

In the end, it will not only benefit the employee, but also the company to have a well-skilled supervisor helping operate the organization.

Interested in learning more about training your supervisors?

Submit your contact information and receive instant access to a video highlighting our process and a brochure featuring our courses, delivery methods, and success stories.

Preview Supervisory Training

 

Span of Control: How Many Employees Should Your Supervisors Manage?

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Span of Control How Many Employees Should Your Supervisors Manage supervising employees effectively ideal span of control

How many employees do your supervisors manage? Has your organization considered the effects of what narrow or wide supervisory and managerial spans of control mean for your employees and the levels of support and empowerment they receive on-the-job?

Have you considered how your decisions regarding the number of levels of reporting in your organization and given to your supervisors and managers influence job satisfaction, communication practices, and your overall organizational culture? The structure of your organization matters for these reasons and more.

Defining span of control

Span of control refers to the number of subordinates that can be managed effectively and efficiently by supervisors or managers in an organization. Typically, it is either narrow or wide resulting in a flatter or more hierarchical organizational structure. Each type has its inherent advantages and disadvantages.

Narrow Span

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Have more levels of reporting in the organization, resulting in a more heirarchical organization
  • Supervisors can spend time with employees and supervise them more closely
  • Creates more development, growth, and advancement opportunities
  • More expensive (high cost of management staff, office, etc.)
  • More supervisory involvement in work could lead to less empowerment and delegation and more micromanagement
  • Tends to result in communication difficulties and excessive distance between the top and bottom levels in the organization

Wide Span

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Have fewer levels of reporting in the organization, resulting in a more flexible, flatter organization
  • Ideal for supervisors mainly responsible for answering questions and helping to solve employees problems
  • Encourages empowerment of employees by giving more responsibility, delegation and decision-making power to them
  • Tends to result in greater communication efficiencies and frequent exposure to the top level of the organization
  • May lead to overloaded supervisors if employees require much task direction, support, and supervision
  • May not provide adequate support to employees leading to decreased morale or job satisfaction

Optimal span of control

Three or four levels of reporting typically are sufficient for most organizations, while four to five are generally sufficient for all organizations but the largest organizations (Hattrup, 1993). This is consistent with ERC’s survey findings as well. Ideally in an organization, according to modern organizational experts is approximately 15 to 20 subordinates per supervisor or manager. However, some experts with a more traditional focus believe that 5-6 subordinates per supervisor or manager is ideal. In general, however, optimum span of control depends on various factors including:

  • Organization size: The size of an organization is a great influencer. Larger organizations tend to have wider spans of control than smaller organizations.
  • Nature of an organization: The culture of an organization can influence; a more relaxed, flexible culture is consistent with wider; while a hierarchical culture is consistent with narrow. It is important to consider the current and desired culture of the organization when determining.
  • Nature of job: Routine and low complexity jobs/tasks require less supervision than jobs that are inherently complicated, loosely defined and require frequent decision making. Consider wider for jobs requiring less supervision and narrower for more complex and vague jobs.
  • Skills and competencies of manager: More experienced supervisors or managers can generally be wider than less experienced supervisors. It’s best to also consider to what degree supervisors and managers are responsible for technical aspects of the job (non-managerial duties).
  • Employees skills and abilities: Less experienced employees require more training, direction, and delegation (closer supervision, narrow); whereas more experienced employees requires less training, direction, and delegation (less supervision, wider).
  • Type of interaction between supervisors and employees: More frequent interaction/supervision is characteristic of a narrower.  Less interaction, such as supervisors primarily just answering questions and helping solve employee problems, is characteristic of a wider. The type of interaction you want your supervisors and managers to engage in with their employees should be consistent with the control they are given.

In addition, special consideration should be given to the direct reports of executive and senior management levels. Typically, the number of direct reports for these individuals are lower than supervisors and managers as too many direct reports at these levels can complicate communication and lengthen response time for crucial decisions.  

Sources:

  • Bell, R. R. & McLaughlin, F. S. (1977). Span of control in organizations. Industrial Management.
  • Davison, B. (2003). Management span of control: how wide is too wide? Journal of Business Strategy.
  • Gupta, A. (2010). Organization’s size and span of control. Practical Management: Transforming Theories into Practice.
  • Hattrup, G. P. (1993). How to establish the proper span of control for managers. Industrial Management.
  • Juneja, H. Span of control in an organization.

Interested in learning more about training your supervisors?

Submit your contact information and receive instant access to a video highlighting our process and a brochure featuring our courses, delivery methods, and success stories.

Preview Supervisory Training

 

What to Do When Managers Behave Badly

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What to Do When Managers Behave Badly

A new national study of leadership uncovered that many managers and senior managers lack the behaviors required to be good leaders. This calls into question: what if our managers are behaving badly with our employees, and what should we do about it?

In many organizations, managers behave badly, negatively affecting employees and the workplace environment, and putting their companies at risk. Bad management behavior can range from minor to major offenses, but can be destructive, eventually chase away great employees, and sometimes even cause a lawsuit.
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10 Things Successful Supervisors Do Differently

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We've all had good supervisors and bad ones, and chances are we remember the characteristics of both pretty vividly. The good ones probably stick out as people who have made a positive impact on our work lives and who made us more successful in our careers. The bad ones probably showed us the type of supervisors that we don't want to be and the mistakes we don't want to make.

Outstanding supervisors can create a profound ripple effect in their organizations. Their behavior, integrity, and treatment rubs off on others for the better. Not only do supervisors directly impact their team members, but they indirectly affect others. The people they supervise and manage frequently move on to lead others, often in a way that emulates how they were supervised.

Here are ten things that successful supervisors do differently.
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