Leading Edge Training Solutions

training trainers, supervisors and their teams

supervisor training

What makes a good Supervisor?

This is not a new question, it’s been around a long time. What is clear is that a good supervisor is ‘worth his or her weight in gold’. It’s an important function in any organisation and the real question is, are we spending enough time and energy supporting those who are appointed as supervisors? Supervisors need two skillsets. (maybe more, but today I was thinking about two that really make a huge difference)

The first are the skills involved in the TASK they are supervising. So if the supervisor is supervising machine operators in a food factory, they should be experts in operating and problem solving on the machine. In addition there is knowledge of the food product, food safety and health and safety. Expertise in this area gives the supervisor confidence to supervise his or her team and also gives confidence to the people being supervised. This is the reason supervisors are often promoted from within.

But then there is the second skillset, the skill of leading people. Although these skills, and there are a complex combination of skills here, are called ‘soft skills’, they are in fact very hard to acquire and to do well. Some people seem to have a natural aptitude it pick up these skills, but to others this is a long and hard process. And to be sure, like any skill in life, no two supervisors are going to end up with the same ability to execute each of the complex skills that make up the skillset of supervisory leadership. Our 2 day Supervisory Leadership course attempts to give supervisors a taste of just some of these skills. But to make a difference, they have to come prepared to change, to try out the new knowledge and skills on the job and (a very big AND), to receive support and ongoing coaching back on the job. I say it again because it’s worth repeating - You cannot expect a person who has been on a course to change much, if you don’t give them the support, tools, encouragement, opportunity, time ongoing coaching.

My advice? Take time to identify the competencies required by each of your supervisors, take time to evaluate, with their input as well, their level on each of the competencies. Help them develop the skills and knowledge identified, supporting them all the way. It’s a big job and you may want some help, but it’s important, it makes a difference and it’s rewarding, in more ways than one.

Supervisors 3cSupervisors 2b

Freed miners have leadership and teamwork stories to tell

The trapped Chilean miners are now free and people throughout the world rejoice with them and their families and the Chilean people. Stories have emerged of courage, perseverance, personal anguish, faith and hope, leadership and teamwork. No doubt many articles and books will be written, documents and films made. 70 days is a long time to be trapped underground, it’s a unique story to be told.

It’s often the stories, the practical examples that we remember long after we have forgotten the facts and figures when attending a training course. I imagine we will have lots to learn from the miners about leadership and teamwork. As in any team there would have been shared leadership according to the individual strengths of the men. Some would excel in initiating activities to keep up morale, others stimulating physical activities, others looking towards peoples spiritual needs etc. And there would be concepts such as shared purpose, goals, celebrating success. I look forward to hearing the stories and discussing the learnings with delegates to our supervisor and teamwork courses.


Supervisor Training - applying the learning after attending a public course

One of the benefits of internal/in house supervisor training is that you can implement it as part of a process of performance improvement. By this I mean it could be integrated into performance appraisal, coaching, productivity improvement projects, administrative support, presentations etc.

It’s a bit harder to do this when supervisors are sent to a public/external course, but it’s not impossible. If you want to get the most from supervisors attending public courses, discuss the expected outcomes with the course providers and arrange for pre course briefings and post course implementation and reviews.

It is our desire that delegates do not simply enjoy our courses (which they do). We want them to implement the skills and insights gained from participation. To this end we have developed a few add-ons to our Leadership Skills for Supervisors course - assignments, coaching etc. We offer most of these for no additional cost to clients. Some that will involve us in ongoing support will carry a reasonable fee.

There are off course some decided benefits to public courses. One is that there is less likelihood of participants being called away to attend urgent(?)issues. Another is that delegates benefit immensely from interacting with participants from diverse working environments.

Contact us if you would like to know more about our Leadership Skills for Supervisors course and the added value add-ons (plug-ins for the computer minded)


Why do some Supervisor training programmes fail?

First off, let me say that I believe that just about any training programme has some benefit in the overall development of people. If one attends training courses over a period of time, changes in knowledge, skills and attitude happen. But this can be a slow process, and it's expensive.

To improve results, supervisor training programmes should be based on a clear understanding of what needs to change. In addition, the material must be presented using well established learning principles. Thirdly (not to mention fourthly fifthly and sixthly) there should be support to ensure that what has been learned is implemented. This may very well be the most important factor in ensuring that the desired change takes place.

Most trainers will have faced a group of learners who say "why don't our managers attend this course, they need to know this too." And of course the managers may very well have the knowledge and skills that have been taught. The issue is that they don't always believe it, or they don't take the time to follow through and coach their staff after the course.

There are ways around this, but they are not always used - Involve managers in the decision as to what will be trained: facilitate a shortened version of the course and add coaching skills for the managers; visible support from the very top. Also, never underestimate the power of administrative systems that support the correct way to do things.

Coming to think of it, all that I have said applies to any training, not just supervisory.

supervisor training

Empowering Supervisors

Supervisors are often held back from becoming managers, or very good supervisors, through a lack of basic literacy skills. We all know the situation, a supervisor has come up through the ranks, s/he was a great operator and now is in the position of supervisor without these foundational skills. We see it all the time, managers frustrated that written reports are not up to standard, safety officers frustrated that hazard and incident reports are not comprehensively filled in, and supervisors neglecting to meet formally with their teams because they don't know how, or lack the skills to develop a meaningful agenda and actionable minutes.

We have been addressing these very things in a company we work with, and the results have been astonishing. Our work based literacy assessment tools have uncovered the core skills required by each supervisor and each is now on an individualised one-on-one programme of development. As a result, meetings are more productive and outcomes documented, confidence has increased, proposals to improve shop floor productivity are better articulated and therefore supported by management. The list goes on.

We are encouraged. It takes time and effort but companies who go down this route will reap the benefits and so will the individual supervisors. For them it can be life changing.

Feel free to contact us if you would like to know how we can assist within your organisation, or if you are just curious to learn more.