The basic premise of my dissertation was that all the literature says a) higher education needs to change and b) change happens through people – so I studied whether higher ed was formally helping its people to change. (The answer was no.)

I see a similar parallel today in my work with supervision. The research clearly says that the manager is the most important factor in employee retention and organizational productivity but are most organizations doing anything to formally train their supervisors? Again, the answer is no.

People are often promoted to supervisor because they were good at the level below that – making widgets, front-line service, serving as an assistant, etc. And yet when they get the job that involves motivating and evaluating others, they are expected to have amassed this skill on their own. People aren’t great supervisors instinctively, rather they approach it through trial and error – incorporating the things their good bosses did and trying not to replicate their bad boss’ behavior. There really is a better way.

On this Boss’ Day, do your boss and everyone they supervise a favor and dedicate resources to professional development. Allow your supervisors to have a coach as a way to talk through problems and learn from them. Allow new or prospective supervisors to attend training to gain specific skills in the supervisory area. Treat supervision as a skill that everyone needs to continually develop and grow.

Gallup says that “the effect of a great manager is the gift that keeps on giving.” Give your organization the gift of strong supervisors by explicitly nurturing this skill instead of hoping it happens by nature.

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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