There are many reasons why supervisors can be ineffective, including those that are directly under the control of your organization. Here are 4 of those reasons.
1. You didn't evaluate their potential well enough.
Picking the right individual for a supervisory role is critically important, and shouldn't just be based on their performance in an individual contributor role. Just because an employee is technically competent and proficient in their current position does not mean that they will be in a supervisory role which demands that they achieve results through others.
The individual you select for a supervisory role should have the right soft/interpersonal skills, potential to lead others, motivation to excel at a higher level in the organization, and culture or style fit for the department in which they work. They need not have all the skills, which can be developed, but they should have these characteristics.
2. You don't hold them accountable for the "soft stuff."
Unfortunately, supervisors are often not held accountable for the "soft-stuff" like engaging, retaining, and developing employees. Without building in accountabilities such as these into your performance management process, supervisors are not held accountable for the things that matter most.
Some common ways employers hold supervisors accountable are by using performance reviews, 360 feedback, employee satisfaction, employee engagement surveys, and retention metrics. These tools help measure how supervisors are performing.
3. You aren't supporting their leadership development on an on-going basis.
Building great supervisors is a continual process of leadership development. It doesn't happen overnight or following a single training program. Supervisors need to have internal resources as well as on-going training and development to help them lead others successfully. Consider the following to help provide your supervisors with a bit more support:
- Offer a senior-level mentor. Encourage them to meet with supervisors at least quarterly.
- Provide templates, forms, and guides to help managers do their daily tasks.
- Send them to at least one leadership development workshop or seminar each year.
- Consider a blended learning approach for manager and leadership development.
4. You waited too long to train them.
Many organizations wait too long to train their employees to be supervisors. Often, when employees are promoted to supervisor, they do not receive training prior to them beginning to manage people. In fact, it's often assumed that because an individual has performed well in their past or current role, that they will perform well in their new role.
As a result, many supervisors do not have the knowledge or skills they need to lead others effectively. This can lead to poor managerial habits over time, which are difficult to reverse. If you begin the training process early, however, managers develop better practices which help them be more successful.
Of course supervisory effectiveness is influenced by many other things, but these are some of the most common pitfalls you can avoid to make sure supervisors are successful.