Test Your Supervisory Skills

Being an effective supervisor is obviously challenging and we've covered this topic in the past in Are They Willing? Are They Able?  Do you think you’re a good supervisor? Would you know why or why not?

As part of our leadership training series for front-line managers, we do an exercise that covers the skills needed to be a good supervisor. It's designed to reinforce what most good leaders already know and is usually done with a group. But, I think you'll find it interesting doing the exercise by yourself as well.

Here's what you need to do: Think of the best boss you've ever had.  Consider all the aspects of how this person affected your performance. Now, write down five items that made this boss a good one. Think about how you were treated, coached and generally supported. But, don't make it complicated—just write down five things that made him or her good. After you’ve done this, read on.

Next, we're going to measure three skills and assign one of them to each of your five items. These skills include:

  • Technical Skills: This is someone’s ability to know the details about how a job is done -- the assembly steps for how a product is made, for example.
  • Conceptual Skills: Conceptual means being able to plan ahead.  Knowing how much material is needed for tomorrow's work, and putting the right person with the right job are examples of conceptual skills.
  • Human Relations Skills: This skill is exactly what it sounds like—how a person interacts with coworkers, subordinates and peers.

Now, assign each of your five good-boss traits a T, C or H, depending on which of the three skills fits best. I'm willing to bet the majority of you mostly have an H next to your descriptions of what made that boss good. Probably not surprising to many and, hopefully, this reinforces your supervisory approach. Others of you may have come to the realization that if you’re going to be a "good boss," then you’d better put more of a focus on your human relations skills.

The White House.