New Professional Supervisors -- What are Their Common Mistakes?

In July, Tracey Harris published a very important book entitled Developing Leadership Excellence: A Practice Guide for the New Professional Supervisor  -- it integrates the existing frameworks of supervision into a comprehensive model of practice, providing new supervisors with a clear procedural and practice guide for conducting professional and operational supervision. I spoke with Tracey this past week, and asked her: “What are the common mistakes that new supervisors often make?" Here is her complete answer:

I remember when I became a leader and professional supervisor for the first time. I was unsure of what I was really doing, did not have a supervision framework to call on and probably used the "wing it" model for quite a while before I developed the necessary skills, knowledge, and attributes to be a great supervisor and leader. Since then, thank goodness, I have a clear leadership and supervision framework and model that is highly effective.

I think most new supervisors are faced with either nervousness or trepidation when they move into the role of a supervisor or leader. Often, supervisors are not adequately trained for the role or they find themselves in a supervisory role because it is an expectation of the role description. Then, there are those professionals who step into a supervisory or leadership role for the very first time. So, what are the most common mistakes that new supervisors often make?

New supervisors do not often have effective supervision and mentoring themselves. It is crucial to have an experienced professional who has been a leader or who is in a leadership role to guide and develop you as a new supervisor.

Another common mistake that new supervisors make is that they do not attend supervision or leadership training when they commence in the role or throughout their leadership career. Find quality training can set you on the right path of what supervisory skills and knowledge base you need to provide effective supervision.

In addition, new supervisors often mistake what management and supervision is all about. It is crucial to know the difference between what line management and professionally supervising staff is for high performance outcomes. Using the PASE model of supervision (based on integrating the style and role of the supervisor, different questioning frameworks, and functional analysis, as well as ensuring that staff feels supported in the workplace) provides leaders and supervisors with a clear understanding of the difference and supports supervisors in their dual role of line manager and supervisor.

Finally, new supervisors do not engage an effective process and framework in which to lead and supervise staff. Understanding the benefits and purpose of supervision, defining the boundaries and understanding what outcomes are required are all important aspects of being an effective supervisor.

Being clear on your intention and purpose as a new supervisor will set you on the path for being a great supervisor and your will achieve great results and be well respected in your role.

What do you think of Tracey's points? Are the mistakes she details common to the new supervisors in your organization?


The Common Obstacles to Sustaining a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Many books focus on the tools needed for for process control and continuous improvement, but the latest work by Philip Gisi -- entitled Sustaining a Culture of Process Control and Continuous Improvement: The Roadmap for Efficiency and Operational Excellence -- moves beyond this limited view and focuses on the daily work routines necessary to maintain and sustain these activities as part of a Lean process and management mindset. This past month, I spoke with Philip and asked him: "What are the common obstacles to sustaining a culture of continuous improvement? How can we overcome these problems?” Here is his complete answer:

A culture of continuous improvement is based on carefully defined operating standards, organizational work routines, and visualization of key performance indicators. The ability to sustain a culture of continuous improvement is rooted in the way an organization is structured (standards and procedures), the discipline they exhibit in executing their work routines and how effective they are at hold employees accountable to their commitments.  Let’s briefly consider the impact of structure, discipline, and accountability in sustaining a culture of continuous improvement.

Organizational Structure
If you don’t have systems that promote the right behaviors, you are unlikely to get what you expect.  

Look at the work habits, attitudes and engagement of employees, if you don’t like what you see, ask:
       Do the behaviors of employees reflect the principles of the organization?
       Are there methods and procedures in place that align with these principles and, if so, are they clearly defined?
       If followed, will the methods and procedures generate desired results?
       Do employees effectively implement the methods and procedures?

Discipline is a mindset which stems from a commitment of employees to execute their roles and responsibilities as key contributors to organizational success. Management must ensure the right systems are in place to promote behaviors expected to achieve ideal results while employees must exhibit the discipline required to follow and improve standards, procedures, and work routines designed to realize and continuously enhance output performance.

Management has the responsibility to monitor, control, and improve organizational systems with the support of all employees.  This requires continuous verification that processes are executed properly while corrective action and employee coaching occurs when deviations from standards are detected. In short, successful organizations have documented systems in place that align with their strategic goals and produce desired results when executed as intended.  

What has your experience been with sustaining continuous-improvement initiatives? What are your thoughts on Philip Gisi's ideas for overcoming common obstacles?