by Gloria Dunn

Earning a promotion sounds great. We work with the hope that we will be recognized for our abilities so we can advance our careers and increase our paychecks. But, for new supervisors, this type of recognition usually advances us to failure.

Supervisors are usually thrust into positions without a clear job definition, training, or advice. The supervisor is handed the important responsibilities of managing people, processes, and profit without a clue on how to succeed. The result is frustrated supervisors, unhappy employees, and the depletion of company resources.

Why? The usual company excuse is that we don’t have the time or the money to train new supervisors. Also, companies rarely prepare people for business growth or replacing supervisors who might leave.

The result —find someone who is good at their jobs, and make them a supervisor. This is a set up for failure. Often, what newly promoted supervisors were good at, when at previous jobs, were their technical skills. Yet, the biggest part of a supervisor’s job is getting work done with and through people.

Andrew Carnegie said he would rather pay more for someone who could work with people than for any other single skill. Good idea, since 85% of a supervisor’s job is managing people.

There are many basic skills supervisors need that training, mentoring, coaching, books, tapes, and other resources can provide. Yet, the workplace today is exceedingly more complicated; therefore, more difficult to manage. And, it’s going to get worse. So advanced skills and a broader knowledge of the organization are needed as well. As Yogi once said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

Sharon Daniels, CEO of AchieveGlobal, alerts us to three new realities that today’s new supervisors must contend with:

  • Increased demands with less support from above and below within the organization
  • An uncommitted, diverse and increasingly cynical workforce, including older workers who have re-entered the workforce, worn-out workers who hold multiple jobs, angry employees who resent cuts in benefits, and employees with cultural and language differences that require extra sensitivity and time
  • Constantly changing job duties, blurred lines of authority and under-supported technology

No wonder 77 percent of Americans hate their jobs, according to a Gallup Poll. No wonder companies spend over $300 billion in stress related claims. No wonder retention is the number one concern of most companies.

For your company to accomplish its goals of financial profitability and organizational longevity, you need a comprehensive supervisory training program. Once you understand the importance of this investment, you will make training in supervisory skills a priority, and provide a development program and a support system for all employees who manage others. You will also make sure new supervisors use the skills they acquire to perform their roles, and receive ongoing reinforcement and coaching. Then, you’ll be able to say to your new supervisor: “You’re promoted! Now go succeed!”