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Is Your Employee Ready to be a Supervisor?

Ready to be a SupervisorBefore an employee is promoted to a supervisory role; consider, first if the individual is ready to be a supervisor. Let’s explore a story from one of my clients I coach. My client recently asked me how to tell if one of his employees is ready to be a supervisor. In particular, he was afraid of promoting another employee to a supervisory role as the last two he appointed did not fare well in the role. One had to be demoted and the other one left on her own. He was worried that the one employee who was demoted likely would not remain with the company long; it was apparent he was disengaged. My client didn’t want to make the same mistake nor set up an employee for failure.

Briefly, I suggested my client consider the following about the employee he was considering promoting to a supervisory role:

  • Was becoming a supervisor a goal of the employee?
  • How effectively does the employee collaborate with team members?
  • How effectively does the employee communicate with others?
  • How well does the employee handle conflicts and problems that arise?
  • How well does the employee make decisions?

Since this employee has taken the lead on a number of initiatives within the department, and also external to the department, I also asked my client:

  • How effectively has the employee led initiatives?

I suggested also that my client ask his peers in other departments their impressions of the employee. To get the perspective of others would be of value to him in making a decision.

Additionally, I asked my client to consider having a conversation with the employee to ensure a complete understanding of what it means to be a supervisor in the group. What are the specific responsibilities of supervisors and what are my client’s expectations in particular for supervisors in his group.

If my client still believed that a supervisory role was a logical next step for the employee, I recommended that he enable for the employee to get some training prior to stepping into the role. This would enable the employee to be better prepared.

Five months later…

My client promoted the employee to a supervisory role and he was doing very well in the new role! Prior to starting the new role, my client ensured the employee had training and was also provided a mentor. Additionally, prior to starting, my client had me work with the employee to help him develop an action plan for getting started as a supervisor, engaging his new staff and ensuring he was successful in his role. Weekly one-on-one meetings with my client and his new supervisor enabled for keeping the employee on track and ensuring that support was there when needed.

Consider a number of factors (such as communication skills, collaboration, etc.) that will determine whether or not an employee will make a strong supervisor prior to promoting them to the role. One such factor if, of course, is the employee even interested in being in a management-related role?