An Overview of Supervision
When employees become supervisors, just as with any time their position within a workflow changes, they need to put a new set of skills to use.
Regardless of their technical expertise, all supervisors need a specific set of soft skills to fill their role successfully. As a supervisor, they are a translator, a communicator, a planner, and a coach. They are accountable to the organization they work for, the employees they supervise, and the other groups and individuals involved in the work their team puts out.
For their organization, supervisors serve as a translator – they create actionable plans based on organizational goals. They connect the dots between the present and the desired future, and make sure that path is followed. Along that path, they must allocate resources (people, equipment, and time) as efficiently as possible.
During the planning and distribution process, supervisors also need to make sure that their employees’ needs are never overlooked. This includes the need for professional development, and the need for achievement – providing opportunities to succeed, removing obstacles to high performance, and providing regular coaching to clarify expectations.
Supervisors are also responsible for positioning their teams within their organization. They need to maintain relationships with other teams and outside resources in order to align their employees’ work with that of others. This will ensure that their teams – and their individual employees – are doing the right work with the right resources.
This may seem like a big change in responsibilities, and for many new supervisors it is. But, the skills necessary to be a successful supervisor can be learned by anyone. The Supervisory Skills Questionnaire (SSQ) is a self-assessment and soft-skills training program that shows new and existing supervisors how specific behaviors contribute to (or detract from) their success. Given 30 hypothetical scenarios, supervisors will choose their preferred course of action from a set of alternatives. The results of the questionnaire are 5 scores, in different areas of aptitude, based on how appropriate the participants’ chosen alternatives were to the given scenarios.
The SSQ also offers the option for peer or employee feedback. This can be invaluable as it provides a view of how participants’ behavior is perceived by those around them – how their team members and co-workers expect them to act. It can also surface buried issues that employees may not feel comfortable mentioning (or may not be permitted to mention) in an everyday environment.
But, the SSQ is not about giving grades or labeling – it’s a learning experience. Each participating supervisor is left with detailed information about successful behaviors and how to make changes for the better.