Friday, July 29, 2011

Conversation with a Supervisor

"Did you ever receive any formal training in supervision?"

"No, I just applied for the job, was interviewed and then was lucky enough to get selected. I learned a lot later on. Talked to some people, Made a bunch of mistakes. Still do, to be honest. I think the idea was that they wouldn't tell us how to do it right but they'd sure let us know if we did something wrong."

"That doesn't sound very wise."

"It isn't, nor is it fun to be tossed to the wolves. Being a supervisor is tough if you want to do it right. Plus there are the laws to worry about. I've got a couple of employees who may know more about employment law than I do. My own supervisor is pretty supportive and yet he hasn't had much training either. We each think we are doing well and yet maybe we are operating at a B level when we could be at an A. There are days when we hunker down."

"Do you get much support from HR?"

"You know, everyone jokes about HR, but that isn't fair. I've usually gotten good advice when I've asked HR about a problem but they aren't in my pocket when I'm out talking with someone in the field. I don't make a habit of running to HR on things because just touching base with them can make my bosses nervous. They want things handled in-house and HR tends to ask a bunch of questions. Maybe those questions need to be asked, but the HR director doesn't write my performance evaluations. Let's just say there is a lot of on-the-job training. You know, the School of Hard Knocks type."

"Before you were promoted, did you have any idea how complicated supervision can be?"

"No way. I had a sense of about a third of the territory. Later on, I discovered how often the rumor mill is wrong and that some of the so-called easy decisions aren't that easy. Once you have a system down, however, it gets a whole lot easier. There is one item that is more important than all of the others."

"What's that?"

"Trust. You need to create a climate of trust."

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