How does your business choose who to promote to supervisory positions?
If your company is like most, seniority often dictates who gets a promotion. But is time on the job enough to make a good supervisor?
A new study by the National Skills Coalition, “ Foundational Skills in the Service Sector,” identified a large and growing skill gap for frontline supervisors, particularly in small businesses. Often times workers reported being promoted to oversee and train other employees with little or no training on how to effectively lead others.
Underprepared supervisors can negatively impact the ability of a business to grow and succeed.
In a tight labor market, retaining quality workers is absolutely critical. A Gallup poll found that 50 percent of working adults have left a job due to having a bad boss. Replacing an entry-level employee can cost thousands of dollars in recruitment, screening and training costs. Supervisors play an essential role in reducing labor turnover.
The customer experience can be negatively affected by poor supervision. Frontline supervisors are often tasked with resolving customer complaints or issues. Skillfully turning around a negative customer experience leads to improved loyalty and repeat business. Higher-level customer service, negotiation and communication skills are required to address these situations.
So what can a small business do to better prepare new supervisors?
First, do not assume experience equals management readiness
A cashier that is quick, accurate and builds positive relationships with customers may not have the skills to train new hires, give feedback effectively or create a work schedule. When promoting someone to a supervisory position have a conversation with your team members about these gaps in knowledge and skills.
Second, be willing to invest in new leaders through professional development
Formal training, such as college courses or workshops, can be effective as well as informal training, such as industry events.
Large companies are more likely to have robust internal training opportunities, but for the small business, leveraging resources outside the company is essential. Customize development plans with your new managers and ensure that measureable outcomes are being achieved. This will build confidence in your new supervisors and ensure your investment is paying off.
Third, consider connecting a new supervisor with a mentor outside your organization
Mentor relationships can build confidence, improve problem solving skills and provide an outside voice looking at issues. Consider partnering with other businesses to create a network of mentors to mutually support employee growth within your organizations.
John Maxwell famously said, “Tend to the people and they will tend to the business.” Promoting proven staff to higher level positions is a great practice – if you make sure they have the tools and skills to be successful.
Ryan Davis, rdavis@ everettcc.edu, is dean of Business and Applied Technology at Everett Community College.