Supervisors are in the trenches so to speak. They oversee the actual work being performed and have authority to make changes and correct hazards.
In the U.S. the most common system for advancing in a company is to reward productive workers by giving them a supervisory position. I often find this approach unproductive. Why? As is often the case, a very skilled and productive worker is moved into a supervisory position that he has no skills or training in. A Highly productive worker doesn’t always transition well into effective inspiring leader.
The skill sets are very different. Leaders must know how to communicate well, understand the principles of leadership and set the right example.
In many cases I have observed crew leaders and foremen struggle to learn their new position by trial and error. Over time some develop excellent leadership skills while others stay deficient.
Therefore, training supervisors to become effective leaders is so important. The leadership training should begin even before they take on the new position. When you recognize a worker’s potential for leadership, there should be a process in place to begin training and preparing them for a future leadership role.
Creating a system of consistent leadership training and pretraining will pay off by producing able and inspiring leaders who foster trust and a strong safety climate.
Part 2 will discuss steps that can be done to train your leaders well.