Strictly Business

Wednesday, Nov 07 2012 12:00 PM

ROBIN PAGGI: Necessary behaviors of an effective supervisor

BY ROBIN PAGGI Contributing columnist

As an HR practitioner, I have coached a number of supervisors who have been sent to me by their employer to help them develop leadership skills. These supervisors are technically competent and have progressed up the hierarchy as a result. However, being a competent supervisor involves engaging in certain behaviors that don't come naturally to any of us.

The article "Personality and the Leadership Pipeline: Managing Transitions from First-Level Leaders to Senior Executives" summarizes leadership behaviors necessary to be successful as a front-line supervisor. Based on research conducted by PDI Ninth House, a global leadership solutions group that has done this kind of research for more than 40 years, the article states that front-line supervisors need to:

* expand their immediate frame of reference (focus less on the details and more on the big picture),

* relinquish the daily details of work to others (delegate and refrain from micromanaging),

* take charge and give direction, and

* recognize the importance of working with their team and peers.

My experience has taught me that some of the above behaviors come naturally to people while others do not. For example, people who naturally take charge and tell others what to do often struggle with being a good team player. And, people who are natural team players usually struggle with taking charge and telling others what to do. Therefore, in order to be effective, supervisors need to be able to do what does not come naturally to them. And that's where coaching comes in.

"While personality traits are largely hard-wired, with proper coaching and focus, organizations can help current and future leaders accelerate positive behaviors," said Joy Hazucha, Ph.D., senior vice president at PDI Ninth House. I have also found this to be true.

Coaching involves the coach and supervisor working together to:

* identify specific behaviors that the supervisor needs to emphasize or de-emphasize (example: the supervisor needs to delegate more tasks to subordinates instead of doing tasks himself ),

* create strategies that the supervisor will implement to engage in appropriate behavior (example: supervisor will make a list of duties and assign them to subordinates),

* implement the strategies (the supervisor goes back to work and assigns the duties to subordinates),

* debrief (the supervisor meets with the coach to report on the results of implementing the strategies and the cycle begins again).

Employers and HR professionals can use this simple, but effective coaching method to help supervisors engage in the behaviors necessary to be effective. Additionally, supervisors can attend training workshops that focus specifically on behaviors that need to be enhanced. Because just doing what comes naturally doesn't get the job done.

Robin Paggi is the Training Coordinator at Worklogic HR Legal Solutions. She can be reached at rpaggi@worklogiclegal.com. These are her opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian.

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