It is a common scenario: Someone does well in their job so we assume that they should be promoted to a place where they supervise others. This is not a good assumption. Some individuals who are wonderfully equipped in what they do are terribly equipped to supervise and in putting them in that role we both hurt them and those who end up reporting to them.
So, before you make someone a supervisor, ask these seven questions.
One: Are they wired to lead others?
Some people are wired as "individual producers" rather than as "organizational leaders." To illustrate, an individual producer is like the car salesman who has the skill to engage customers, help them find the best car and make the sale. It is an individual kind of job. Contrast that with the sales manager whose job it is to lead the team of salespeople. These are two different skill sets entirely.
Two: Do they have the skills to help staff succeed?
The primary job of a supervisor is to ensure that their staff are successful at what they do. There is a skill to helping others succeed rather than focusing primarily on our own success. If they do not possess this skill, do you have the training to ensure that they learn the skill?
Three: Do they have the ability to empower others and delegate both responsibility and appropriate authority?
Unfortunately, many leaders believe that leadership is about telling people what to do and how to do it rather than empowering others to figure out what needs to be done and how to do it. Empowering others means that we define clear boundaries and then delegate appropriate responsibility and authority. Those who are unable to do so should never be put in supervisory roles.
Four: Do they love to help develop others?
Leaders, managers and supervisors are successful when those they lead are successful. This means that the best have a high commitment to the development of people they lead. They want them to become all that they can be and be constantly sharpening their skills and abilities. Great leaders get great satisfaction out of developing their staff. And staff love to work for those who care deeply about them.
Five: Do they have a clear job description as to what their responsibilities as a supervisor are?
It amazes me how many organizations do not clarify with supervisors what is expected of them in this role. In our organization, for instance, we expect all leaders to have a personal development plan, to build a strong team, develop appropriate strategy, develop their people and mobilize necessary resources. In my view you cannot supervise well without doing these five things.
Six: Do they have a coach to ensure that their transition to a supervisory role goes well?
Moving from a concern about "my work" to a concern about "the teams" work is a significant jump. It requires a different set of competencies, skills and priorities. Having a coach along side of you in this transition can make the difference between success and failure.
Seven: Do they want to supervise?
Why ask the question? Because if someone is not motivated to do what has been described above, they will not make for good supervisors. Too often we push people to take a supervisory role to the detriment of those who end up reporting to them. If they don't want the role, never put them in the role.