Too often, as senior or middle managers we are dragged into the details of the daily running of production or the office. We are forced to organise basics or put out fires that should have been dealt with independently by our supervisors and their teams. This distracts us from our own work and slows down innovation and growth, thus affecting progress of our business. To break out of this unproductive pattern, as managers we must reorient our efforts to developing the leadership capabilities and reshape management routines of our supervisors.
Years ago, when I got promoted to the senior management team of a UK manufacturing site, I was eager to show I could make an impact. My VP (seasoned, inspirational and tough as nails) gave me some advice I will never forget: “If you want to be an ‘A’ Player, you must surround yourself with an A team.” I thought of the teams I had just taken over. Good people who were coming to work every morning with the desire to do a good job and be proud of it. But there was a wide range of qualifications, experience and performance. Collectively, we were not first-class. Not really an ‘A team’, I thought and said to my VP. He laughed and replied: “Changing that is your challenge. THAT'S your job as a manager.”
As managers we are only ever as good as the people working for us.
As we say in Training within Job Relations (TWI JR), ‘we get results through other people’. As managers, our main job is to grow High Performance Supervisors, capable of developing and leading exceptional teams.
Great supervisors are the key to great operations performance.
My supervisors are ‘empowered’. Is that not enough?
First-line supervisors have one of the toughest jobs in a plant or an office. Operations performance rests on their shoulders. If things go wrong they more than anyone feel the pressure, if things go right they rarely get the glory. They have all the responsibility, but little power.
And many supervisors lack the knowledge and skills required to succeed in their role. Oftentimes, they got the job because they were great workers. But being a great worker doesn't make you a great leader, just like being a great athlete or football player doesn’t automatically make you a great coach. To be a great supervisor, it takes more than just Knowledge of the Work.
It is the manager’s responsibility to help his or her supervisors acquire the other types of knowledge and skill they need to become highly effective leaders.
In Training within Industry, a high-impact leadership training program, we say that great supervisors have 5 Needs (see chart). As managers we need to figure out what these 5 Needs mean in the context of our operations.
What skills do our supervisors need to raise performance in their area?
What knowledge to they need to grow, challenge and support their team?
Only with a clear notion of the knowledge and skills that fulfil our supervisor’s five needs, we can support their skills transitions effectively. When we help them in acquiring the new skills and they practise them daily (establishing new, productive habits), they grow their effectiveness and boost operating performance. And managers can - with the help of their supervisors and teams - focus on growth and innovation, propelling the company forward.
The TWI programs, alongside other essential skills, are a great starter kit for companies that need to raise the performance of their front-line leaders and teams:
TWI Job Instruction (how to accelerate on boarding of new team-members and raise individual work performance)
TWI Job Relations (how to motivate team members and improve attitudes and relationships)
TWI Job Methods (how to simplify and improve process performance and reliability)
Where can I get help?
At the Supervisor Academy we help you develop High Performance Supervisors and raise your operations performance. We offer a carefully selected, high-quality supervisor training and development portfolio, enabling you to grow the skills your supervisors need to deliver outstanding results.
We develop essential leadership skills and support companies all over the world in embedding these skills into their daily operations practices.
Our time-proven training programs develop not just awareness and knowledge but practical, hands-on skills that your front-line leaders apply straight away to generate hard, fast results and build long-lasting habits that transform their way of leading and working.