Leading Edge Training Solutions

training trainers, supervisors and their teams

  transformation
training needs analysis

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
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Training Needs Analysis (TNA) or Development Needs Analysis (DNA)?

Some years ago I was put in charge of the training function of a large manufacturing company. They already had a Training Manager so I had to come up with a job title that was a bit different. Since my role, apart from managing the training function, was to look at the future H.R. needs of the organisation, introduce a Manpower Plan and develop people for future roles, I chose the title Human Resource Development Manager. I had never seen the title before then, but over the years it became popular. Training sounds a bit restrictive, development sounds more future oriented and creative and I am sure better describes the role. In recent years Learning has become a popular word in training circles and Learning Advisors, Learning and Development Managers etc are replacing Training Managers in many organisations.

Training Needs Analysis seems to have stood the test of time when referring to the process of finding out, in advance of training, who and what should be trained. Is this term accurate I wonder? What about Development Needs Analysis? (could be abbreviated to DNA) This would suggest a more proactive, forward looking approach. And of course, since training is not always the solution, what about broadening it to Performance Improvement Needs Analysis? (PINA?)

I suspect it will be Training Needs Analysis for some time to come.

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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
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