Accident Investigation: Finding the Positive in the Negative
Can Safety Save Your Business?

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.

White House Supervisor Skills


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

John Dodge

Paul, this is an excellent exercise that every supervisor and team leader should complete. A real eye opener! Thanks!


Paul, This is an exceptional piece...thank you. Q: You start off the second paragraph with the following words; " 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 ".

Tell us more about this can I participate? Should I participate?

Paul Caret

If you are one of our clients, you can request that this training be done for you. The decision as to whether or not the training will be done is made by the Director that oversees the specific safety consultant passing on this request. Some of the factors in the decision include the size of the company, management commitment, current safety culture and availability of qualified trainers. Not all will be able to have the training done. It is a considerable investment in time and resources for both MEMIC and the insured for this enhancement that typically takes four full days.

As far as the "should I participate?" portion of your question, the answer is yes if your current safety culture indicates that you are ready. In other words, if you are beyond the basic level of loss control efforts and management can be counted on to support not only when the trainees go in, but when they come out then you absolutely should have the training done. Another reason to participate would be the simple fact that you're investing in the individuals who have the greatest effect on your bottom line. If that makes sense, then how could you not try to improve their skills?

The comments to this entry are closed.