This began as the top five skills, but it just wasn’t possible, so I’m going for ten. An interesting discussion on the LinkedIn HR Group listserv recently addressed this as did a speaker at a seminar I attended in August. There are lots of books out there on this topic, but I’m aiming to keep it short and to the point. We’re talking about folks who have never supervised before, God bless them.
- Understand your new role and maintain boundaries. You now have some power (or at least your subordinates think you do) and can no longer be one of the gang. You want to be friendly and empathetic but not get involved in solving personal problems. You don’t want to go partying and drinking with your subordinates. And so on.
- Listen first, then speak, respectfully.
- Set clear and measurable expectations.
- Learn the fundamentals of delegation, directing and coaching.
- Understand the larger system in which you work so you can “manage up” and exercise your “followership” skills. Your unit does not work in a vacuum — you can help your people only if you understand the universe, including the organizational values, around them.
- Develop basic conflict resolution skills.
- Learn how to handle the routine stuff: timecards, leave slips, accident reports, etc. Read the Employee Handbook, carefully.
- Find an experienced manager or supervisor to whom you can go with questions.
- Set up a regular but realistic system for meeting with your employees, both as a group and one-on-one. No one likes a ton of meetings, but it’s absolutely necessary to have some regular meetings.
- Figure out how to reward those employees who do well and motivate those who are not engaged.
And what if we had to pick only five central skills? First, I’d have to eliminate the practical, obvious ones such as learning how to handle the routine stuff, setting up regular meetings, and finding a more experienced person to be a mentor. My top five then would be numbers 1 – 5 above. I’d probably also want to figure out a way to squeeze in 6 (maybe by just adding it to #4!).
What would you pick as the top five? Did I miss anything? ~Amy Stephson