As the year draws to a close, the focus of business owners and managers often shifts to workforce changes. The new year may see an expansion or reduction in business activities. Critical management employees may be retiring. These developments will require workplace adjustments. Notable among them is the promotion of existing line employees to supervisory and management positions. How to select and support these employees as they transition to new roles is critically important — for the success of the employees and the business. Promotion decisions should be made deliberately, not desperately. To be able to make deliberate decisions, company officials should continually be on the lookout for people with management and leadership skills. They should “test drive” line employees in informal, or temporary supervisory and management, roles. Form task forces, product development teams and other collaborative groups to allow promising employees opportunities to lead and to expand their knowledge of company operations. Provide line employees training to grow their job, people and leadership skills. Through this training and collaborative experience, the next generation of creative and effective managers will be recognized. Before promoting employees ask: Are they competent in the job they are doing now? Do they have people skills and leadership abilities? Are they trustworthy and committed to the company’s goals and mission? Are they able to confront and resolve conflicts? Are they willing to take risks? Are they organized?
The transition from co-worker to supervisor is not an easy one. It can be fraught with
insecurity and met with outright hostility from former colleagues. For the transition to
succeed, the promoted employee must be supported by both training and mentoring.
Assign a mentor to the promoted employee — preferably one who has moved up in the
ranks and has experienced the challenges. Additional support can come from
memberships in professional organizations. Identify these organizations and encourage
the new supervisor to join.
Provide management training. An employee may have been the best in his or her job.
But supervising other employees is a unique skill that requires specific training.
Twice a year — in February and in September — P.A.S. offers a “Quick Start” course of
eight four-hour weekly sessions to help supervisors more effectively increase morale,
productivity and profitability.
Supervisor training courses should address moving from peer to supervisor,
understanding the role of management, and dealing with negativity and conflict. Training
should develop a supervisor’s ability to effectively communicate, understand, listen and
A workforce is comprised of different personalities. Supervisors must understand and
work with a variety of work styles to tap the talents of the group and create a positive
Reviewing and disciplining subordinates often is a huge challenge for new supervisors.
Management training should include setting, reviewing and communicating performance
objectives, documenting performance, and addressing deficiencies.
When employees transition from being responsible for only their job performance to the
performance of a group, delegation, time management and prioritizing are skills that
need to be developed.
A new supervisor also needs to learn how to be a coach. This should include the process of conducting disciplinary conversations, monitoring and correcting substandard performance, and providing subordinates with constructive feedback. Understanding how a profitable business operates, including interpreting such information as profit and loss statements, is just as important to a new supervisor as learning the techniques of conducting effective meetings and managing projects. Employees are a company’s greatest asset. Effectively developing employees’ skills — including management skills — will benefit both the company and its employees.