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Four Ways to Kickstart Your Supervisor Leadership Training Program

By Holly Mockus   |   

A few weeks ago, I joined one of our amazing customers, Robert Munoz, leadership and development training manager at JBS, for a webinar to discuss the importance of setting up supervisors for success with the proper training.

If you missed it, check out the replay to hear how Robert and his team rolled out a supervisor technical training program to make their leaders more informed and more confident in their jobs. They’re experiencing tremendous ROI from this training, which he’ll explain in the webinar.

It’s important to hear JBS’s experience because so many manufacturers share their challenges with leadership development as our workforce is changing drastically.

In just a couple of years, nearly two-thirds of the workforce will be made up of millennials who think and act much differently than the ranks of workers a decade ago. Part of that difference involves the need to feel valued and to work under leaders who are competent and thoughtful.

Whether or not they stay on their jobs depends largely on how well they work with their managers. This is a challenge because most of them also believe their employers are not actively developing leaders from within. And you know what? They might be right. According to Brandon Hall Reports, 83% of organizations believe it’s crucial to develop leaders at all levels, yet only 5% have done so.

All too often, employees are selected to become leaders based on their job performance, their attendance, or sometimes even their popularity. And then they’re expected to know and apply a new range of people and business skills.

Unless trained, these highly valued employees will fail. In no time, they can make costly mistakes and burn out. In the process, their poor leadership can cause others to leave or discourage them from becoming supervisors.

The revolving door of both workers and supervisors and the cost to retrain new employees can be costly and detrimental to quality and production.

Intertek Alchemy can provide the tools and support to help you train and develop confident and capable leaders from within. But how you apply those tools depends on the makeup of your workforce and their jobs.

No one supervisor training program is right for every environment. To help you find the right fit, here are four ways to roll out a training program that will set your supervisors up for success.

Instruction by Levels Approach

A level training approach applies to content and topics based on different levels of leadership within an organization. This is how Robert and his team rolled out JBS’s supervisor technical training program.

To start, they evaluated supervisors on their basic foundational leadership skills and abilities to create a collective baseline. They then determined where to fill in the gaps based on what they knew and what they needed to know to create content buckets.

Courses covering topics such as communications, leadership, teamwork, and performance management can be taught at different levels:

  • L1 – Basic leadership skills for beginner
  • L2 – People instructions
  • L3 – Advanced skills
  • L4 – Tying it all together

This approach offers the advantage of delivering content at the stage where it’s relevant and understandable for supervisors, given where they are in their current leadership capacity.

The Topic of the Month Approach

Many supervisor candidates find it easier to comprehend topics one at a time instead of drinking from the fire hose during a week of orientation. In this approach, you can assign supervisors to take courses during the first week of the month. And then, they practice those skills with their teams during the next two weeks.

By the last week of the month, they regroup to discuss what worked and didn’t work and what steps to improve upon, and how to practice them with employees. This might also involve role-playing, which is an excellent way to practice their new skills safely without creating any hardship with their teams. You might even consider filming the role play so supervisors can see how they look when practicing their new skills.

Manager Nurturing Approach

The manager nurturing approach provides a platform for management staff to reflect and share their experiences and thoughts on a particular topic. During the first week of each month, plant management will take a course followed by 30 minutes to discuss the skills and their experience using them. Afterward, each department manager will identify how to make improvements in their own use of the skill during the month ahead and roll out the course to their direct teams. This approach helps to cascade the skills from top down.

Self-Directed Approach

The self-directed approach enables supervisors to take matters into their own hands. Each supervisor is allowed to review materials and topics and identify one or two skills that they’d like to improve upon over time. They make notes on how and when they are using that skill, and then they follow that up with a one-on-one discussion with their managers. For example, our Intertek Alchemy Leadership Library can provide the courses to choose. And managers can use the Alchemy Coach app with leadership observations that accompany each topic to work through their learnings together.

Regardless of which approach you take, if you’re working to educate and train your supervisors, you’re moving in the right direction. Supervisors are the most important relationship your frontline workers have in your business. If you give them the tools and people skills they need to lead their teams, they will play a vital role in helping your operations run smoothly.

I always say supervisors are the hub that makes the wheel go around. And without a good, strong hub, that wheel won’t get you very far.

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