Bad supervisors spoil morale, impede productivity, damage quality, and decrease customer satisfaction. There are way too many bad supervisors. And it’s our fault. Why do we keep doing this? How can we stop it?
Too often, entry level employees get promoted to supervisory roles based on performance in their current position. The best hourly technician, the best waiter, the best sales rep — those are the employees I’m talking about. They’re great at their jobs, so we make them supervisors. We’re stuck in the outdated point of view that excellent performance in an entry-level job earns one a promotion to supervisor.
That approach so frequently fails because being an outstanding individual performer (e.g., brilliant salesperson) requires a completely different set of talents than being a sales manager. So we’re using the wrong criteria to select our supervisors. If we switch to better criteria, we’ll select better supervisors. Our results will improve, and our lives will be easier.
So let’s let go of the emphasis on individual performance and let’s start paying attention to natural supervisory behaviors and attitudes. Do you have an employee who…
1. Demonstrates Initiative? This particular combination of behavior and attitude is fundamental to everything else and should be considered a ticket to admission. This person sees ways to help, to add value and takes action.
2. Improves Morale? This person not only has a strong positive attitude, but also has a positive impact on others as well. He or she encourages others to maintain positivity and optimism in the face of adversity.
3. Helps Other Employees? This employee notices when another team member could use some help and just spontaneously moves in to help them. He or she might do this for you as well.
4. Teaches Other Employees? This person frequently is seen sharing something they’ve learned and helping others learn things that empower them to do their jobs better. He or she does this just because they like to.
5. Generates Ideas For Improvement? Great supervisors see ways to make things function more effectively. And they speak up.
6. Demonstrates Leadership? When something needs to get done, this employee just asks others to pitch in — and they do. For instance, “C’mon guys, let’s clean up this area.”
Although this is not an exhaustive list, it’s a heckofalot better than thinking about who’s the best in their current role. In fact, this person might well NOT be the best at their job. He or she might be just okay as a waiter or sales associate. But if you see these attitudes and behaviors, if you see an employee who’s doing this without being asked … that’s the person you should promote to supervisor.
How much easier would your life be if you selected better supervisors?
Thanks for reading. As always, I’d like to hear your thoughts.