The first key to being a successful Supervisor involves getting a good appreciation of the concept of ‘People Management’. Successful Leadership involves both elements of this term, that is ‘people’ and ‘management’. This article provides the first steps in People Management, putting in the framework for the Supervisor to work productively with each Team Member.
An effective Supervisor understands that People Management is the central core of this role. To get an understanding of this term ‘People Management’, it is useful to separate the two elements and the ‘People’ element and the ‘Management’ element. On the ‘people’ side, the role requires a keen understanding of different types of people, and effective use of people skills to work productively with each one. The ‘management’ side involves structuring the activities of the Team and of the Supervisor so that the Team will work effectively together to achieve maximum performance.

Think in terms of People and Management
Effective Supervisors have their focus on both elements of People Management and are actively working on both sides at all times. The ineffective Supervisor is often overly concerned with one element and might be blind – or even dismissive of the other side. They may emphasis the ‘people’ side, wanting to become a ‘buddy’ to their Team members rather than a Leader, or simply have no structure or systems to manage performance at all. The other extreme is the Supervisor who introduces processes and systems with no appreciation of how these may impact on their Team members – resulting in a low performing, de-motivated Team.
The first step to successful Leadership is to think in terms of both people and management - putting in the right systems and processes so that these people can perform at a high level.

Manage your Understanding of Your People
An effective Supervisor keeps a file on each of their reports, and they use this to plan and manage day to day actions with each person. The first step is to get to know each of your Team members. The best way of doing this initially is to observe them from a distance as they work or interact with others. Develop this understanding by ‘bonding’ with each. Bonding is spending short periods of time talking socially with each – about sport or family or other interests.
A good People Manager uses this time to build mutual respect and trust, but also to gain an insight in to the personality of this person. Structure and record your thoughts. What will motivate this person, what are their strengths, what are the sensitive areas?
Ensure you have these bonding sessions with each one of your reports regularly – and spend equal time with each. Promoting fair play and avoiding any form of favouritism is vital to this role.
The next step is to get an appreciation of this person in their Task role, their performance, their strengths and their areas for development. Write down a profile of the Team Member, the more information you have the better. Each person has many qualities, if you stop at the surface level, you will fail to get an understanding real potential of this person.

Benchmark the ‘Ideal Team Member’
The next area to focus on is – what are you building? You know what your Team Members are like now, but if they were much, much better, what would they look like then?
The first rule in Management is to – ‘Focus on the Goal’. Effective Management figures out the objectives and targets, and then they put in plans and Management systems to achieve these goals. This is also true of People Management. The effective Supervisor works out what this Team Member will be like in 6 months time or a year, and then puts in goals, plans and actions to get there.

To help you do this, visualise the ‘ideal’ Team Member – one who has all the best qualities of the best Team Members. Make a long list of the qualities of this ‘ideal’ Team Member, and keep working at this list to clarify your thinking. It may be helpful to use the categories 1) Knowledge, 2) Skills 3) Attitude 4) Team Contribution to help you do this. Create a matrix with this list, to help you identify the Strengths of your Team and each Team Member, and to plan your next areas to work on.

Indentify Clear Goals for each Team Member
Use your ‘Ideal’ Benchmark Matrix to assess each of one of your Team Members in turn. First identify the top 3 or 4 strengths of each, their best qualities or performance factors. Then identify their areas for development, what to work on next.

Write down clear goals for each Team Member for the next 2 – 3 months. In one of your early performance discussions with each Team Member, discuss these goals. Gain their input, and agree definite goals for the immediate future.

Hold Regular Performance Management Meetings
The effective People Manager begins as they mean to go on. At an early stage with each new report, begin regular, planned performance discussions. These may take only 15 to 20 minutes every week or two weeks. The goal is to help the Team Member to review their performance over the last week, identify strengths and learning points for the future. It is the time to give positive or corrective feedback and to set short term goals for the immediate future.

Build the habit of these discussions, encouraging and developing the Team Member to become engaged in their own self development.

With this core framework in place, you can continue to manage your people and to build your high performing Team.

Author's Bio: 

Kate Tammemagi designs and delivers People Management Courses. She has extensive experience in designing customized Managing People and Supervisor Courses.