Unfortunately, New Supervisor Keys to Success Do Not Come Easily
According to CEB, 85% of new supervisors receive no new manager training training, and 60% of new supervisors underperform during their first two years. And those weak new supervisors that do survive develop bad habits that stay with them throughout their career. They all could have been helped by some basic new supervisor keys to success.
How It Happens
We’ve all seen it happen. Technical experts, functional experts, and superstar individual contributors who meet or exceed expectations are eventually asked to lead a team even if their past success is unrelated to leading, managing, or coaching people. But we know from our People Manager Assessment Center, that being a supervisor requires an entirely new set of skills to produce results through others.
For most of us, leadership is not an innate skill that we are born with; effectively leading others is a skill that is consciously developed over a lifetime. Supervisors who don’t learn core leadership skills struggle to keep pace.
Attributes of Bad Supervisors
We know from our organizational culture assessment data that bad supervisors are bad for business. Bad supervisors account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units and teams with ineffective managers record 22% less productivity on average. In terms of attributes, employees say that bad supervisors:
- Lack self-awareness
- Struggle to manage their own emotions
- Are self-centered
- Don’t meet their commitments
- Are hard to trust
- Play workplace politics
- Are weak coaches
- Don’t invest in their teams
- Take credit for others’ work
- Lack decisiveness
- Are poor communicators
7 New Supervisor Keys to Success
Overall, the first step in becoming a successful new supervisor is to recognize that your overall mindset needs to change from a focus on excelling at your own individual projects and tasks to delivering results through others. Based upon management development feedback, here are seven new supervisor keys to success:
- Understand the Role of Being a Supervisor
In general, new supervisors are expected to attract, develop, engage, and retain top talent to contribute to the organization’s overall mission. That leaves a lot for interpretation. And every company has a unique culture that handles goal setting, performance management, coaching, delegation, decision-making, communication, and accountability differently.
Before you are too far down the path in your new supervisory role, get as clear as possible about what defines high performance for your role in terms of outcomes and behaviors and know specifically how that success will be measured. The answer should provide the context on where to focus and why.
- Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses as Leader
As soon as possible, increase your self-awareness by getting some psychometric data to increase your self-awareness, pinpoint your strengths/weaknesses/values, and measure your ability to learn from past experiences. This will provide a great place to start to work on yourself. You must be able to effectively lead yourself before you can effectively lead others.
Then after 60 to 90 days of working with your team get 360-degree feedback on how you are doing as people’s new boss. Done right, 360 feedback gives new supervisors the opportunity to be vulnerable, see themselves as others see them, and to make desired changes in their leadership behavior.
- Understand the Current Situation
Too many new supervisors want to make a statement by making visible and big changes quickly to everyone show who’s boss. Unless there is an urgent issue that everyone agrees must be solved immediately, this is a mistake. Take at least 90 days to conduct a current state analysis so you can make better informed, more creative, more impactful, and more collective decisions around the desired future state of your team.
Once everyone is on the same page about the current state of affairs, you can co-create a plan for success that everyone buys into.
- Create a Team Charter for Success
For new supervisors to set themselves and their teams up for success, everyone needs a basic understanding of why the team was formed, how you’ll accomplish your objectives as a team, and what team success looks like. Done right, a team charter clarifies strategic priorities, allocates resources, and defines agreed upon goals, roles, responsibilities, success metrics, processes, team norms, interdependencies, obstacles, and action plans.
- Invest In Building an Effective Team
Once you have a clear game plan for success, your main job as a new supervisor is to create a high performing team. One of the most common mistakes new supervisors make is trying to design everything around their team’s personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and motivations instead of defining the work to be done and the best way to accomplish that work in a way that plays to people’s strengths and desires.
Invest the time to have the right people, doing the right work, in the right way. That means fairly managing out underperformers, proportionately rewarding high performers, and hiring top talent that fits.
- Ask for Ongoing Feedback
No one is perfect, but leaders should model and strive to continuously improve. The best way to learn where you can improve is by asking your followers. If you have created an open, trusting culture, employees will feel comfortable making suggestions for improvement.
Reflect upon what you could have managed better and make the changes necessary. Continuous improvement should be your goal. Listen well and then take meaningful actions based upon what you learn.
- Keep it Simple
There is nothing to be gained by using high-flown language or complicated sentence structures. Speak and write simply and concisely so your employees and your stakeholders clearly understand what you mean. Effective communication matters in all your interactions.
The Bottom Line
Even though supervisors are being asked to do more with less, companies that excel at management practices deliver a 10-fold return to investors. If your new supervisors do not have the competence or confidence to lead, manage, and coach, their teams will not perform at their peak.
To learn more about new supervisor keys to success, download 5 Management Misperceptions that Slip Up Too Many New Managers