The role of a supervisor is to the most critical job in any organization. They typically control 80% of the resources between labor and material.  The more effective they become as leaders, the less cost they incur because of mistakes causing lost time. The following are 10 management skills that every supervisor should develop and master. Enjoy!

  1. Positive Confrontation

Being able to confront is an important skill for supervisors to learn.  Many supervisors do not confront because of fear. That is right. The reason why some many problems are not resolved is that the supervisor is fearful of the reaction of the employee. The supervisor avoids the conversation altogether thinking it will go away. Guess what happens when the supervisor take this approach? The problem gets bigger. The only way to have a positive confrontation is preparation. That is it! Bottom line! You have to be ready with the data and the facts.

  1. Coaching without embarrassing

What is coaching? Is it football coach yelling at its players? Coaching an employee without him/her feeling embarrassed is a skill. They have to ‘want’ to be coached by you. It will take building rapport from the day you meet to have a better chance of a successful coaching encounter. A good coaching session is when the employee will thank you for taking the time to help them grow personally and professionally.  A simple way to know what they need is to ask them what their strengths and weakness are. Then can you ask for a time on when you can help them.

  1. Communication

This is a skill that you have to make a conscious effort to improve every day. The way you communicate to your employees can make or break you as a leader.  Like the saying goes “leadership is about getting things done through your people.” The key ingredient to this quote is if you effectively communicated all that is needed. One simple, incorrect words can through everything off.  Learn to be clear in your communication and ask the person to repeat back what you said. This is a habit that leaders in the nuclear industry do to keep people aligned.

  1. Poise

Who likes a leader that is hot tempered and is shaken by the slightest turbulence in the organization.  My normal picture is a military leader who is calm and collective under enemy fire. The person is focused, set clear expectations and walks calmly. Typically, your employees will react in the same manner you do.  Remember, Murphey’s Law is always around. If you plan on something and something goes wrong then go to Plan B.  Planning for scenarios will put you at ease which will make you look calm on the outside but different on the inside. An employee noticed the outside and react to the outside.  Plan for contingencies

  1. Prioritize your things

You have to remember that you only have 8 hours of work time in any given day and 40 hours in a week.  If you are lacking in this skill, here is what you can do. Create four Quadrants on a blank sheet of paper.  Quadrant 1 is Urgent things, Quadrant 2 are important things, Quadrant 3 are things you need to delegate and Quadrant 4 are things you need to get rid of.  Can you guess which quadrant of things you need to spend your time on?  This should be things that move your organization forward and/or get the biggest bang for your time.

  1. The use of Excel, Word, and Powerpoint

These things are very important as a supervisor.  The concept that every supervisor should learn is “let the tool drive the behavior”.  What that means is that if you want someone to change a specific behavior you cannot just tell them, you have to track that activity and use the data to show the impact.  You can create a tool using excel or word. Powerpoint is great when you have to present your finding to your boss.  Find a free class online but start with excel. You will get the most use of knowing of Excel to create tools that drive behaviors.

  1. Problems Solving

This skill is the fundamental reason why you are a supervisor.  Why do you think your boss put you there? The very nature of being a leader is the ability to systematically identify problems and then solve them.  The difference between good companies and great companies is great companies find the root cause of problems and then fix them so they will not reoccur. While good companies fix the problem just to keep the ball rolling.  They constantly fix the symptom rather than the root cause. One great technique for problem-solving is using the 5 Whys. Keep asking “why” until you get the right answer but don’t stop at why #3, keep going.

  1. Developing leaders

It is always a great feeling to see your people get promoted into a leadership role. You take pride in knowing that your time, effort, and guidance paid off to make someone’s life better.  Here’s the catch. Not everyone becomes a leader. You have to know who has the will and the ability to become a leader. One way you can quickly make this assessment is by using the Can Do Will Do Matrix.  This matrix will provide a clear picture of your team’s willing and capability which will allow you to focus on developing the right people.

  1. Delegating

Delegating is different than pawning things off.  There are two main reasons why you should delegate. One is because of your limited time and the many things you have to get done. You cannot do them all on your own. Keep in mind that you do not want to be known at the leader who is a “master delegator”. Find a balance. The other reason is to develop your people. You may select a specific task that will challenge an employee to learn a new skill. There is an art to effective delegating.  Be clear about the outcome and the time frame of it being completed. Where supervisor fail is the communication. They assume the employee knows what needs to get done.

  1. Following up

This is probably the toughest skill to master but the most rewarding. Follow up takes skill and discipline and the reason is you have a million things to do on any given day. Who cares if an employee is looking for a pencil? That is not important to you; however, it is important to the employee. The employee’s perception is the reality they live in.  If you happen to remember the pencil, how do you think they will perceive you as a leader? If you have a difficult time following up, write it down and refer to your notes regularly.  A faster approach, go do that thing NOW!  Don’t think about it, just go do it without any hesitation or interference.


Now that you have this list, which one will you learn today?

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