Don’t forget the Supervisor

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Generally, a T&C Scheme tends to concentrate on the individuals undertaking the work processes, such as advisers and para-planners, whilst less emphasis tends to be placed on the individuals doing the overseeing. The supervisors. Which could be a big mistake.

Team hierarchy generally consists of a supervisor, in the guise of a head of, a manager, or a team leader, at the top, with the team members below. The supervisor is the individual who leads the team, making the decisions, and is ultimately therefore responsible for the outputs.

Of course, the supervisor may also undertake some of the work process. A sales team leader might have their own revenue target. A para-planning team leader might get involved in the more complex work. An administration team leader might be responsible for allocating revenue. All of which may be monitored as specific key performance indicators and is likely to be common practice in the industry.

But the most effective supervisors adopt a different approach, one where they take the view that they are working for the team, not the other way around

Setting up key performance indicators for individuals undertaking processes is reasonably straight-forward as they are easy to monitor and measure. Identifying the same for supervisors is not so easy and the process to define competency may be more complex.

A good starting point is the supervisors’ background. Why did that individual become a supervisor? Maybe it was because they were the most experienced or the senior member of the team when the position became available. Maybe they had been an outstanding performer or had specialist technical knowledge. Or maybe they had been recruited based on previous experience in a similar role either within the firm or externally and had transferred their skills into the role. Background is important because it will have an impact on how they perceive the role. Some may take the view that they believe the team is working for them and that they are totally in charge. Others may take a view that the team needs only a certain level of supervision, freeing them up for other things. But the most effective supervisors adopt a different approach, one where they take the view that they are working for the team, not the other way around. Their role is to ensure that the team delivers their work effectively, accurately, and on time. They ensure that the team has the right level of knowledge, the right processes, and the right tools to do the work. And they make these their priority.

Consider the actual requirements of the role. How much non-supervisory work is required. How much time this will take. Because this could have an impact on the time available to supervise, irrespective of the level of supervision the team requires. Whilst there is no definitive guide on supervision time required, it makes sense to have more time allocated to supervision when the team includes trainees or a proportion of lesser-experienced individuals, and less time allocated if the team is fully up to speed and meeting their individual key performance indicators.

Measuring the supervisory effectiveness of a supervisor within a T&C Scheme can be broken down into three components. Starting with the key component of team interaction. This should include team meetings, individual meetings, and training, coaching, and mentoring. Good practice would be to hold team meetings at least quarterly, although in the current environment this should be monthly, and individual meetings at least monthly, or more frequently for trainees. All of which, of course, should be documented.

The quality of these documented meetings should be examined carefully. Not just the content, which might indicate that there are aspects that the supervisor themselves need to work on, but more importantly what is not documented, as this might indicate that there are areas either not discussed or considered not relevant to record.

Workflow management is another key component of the supervisors’ role. This can be acquired remotely or directly through a variety of management information outputs. Careful examination will identify the areas that need attention. The question that should be asked, of course, and where appropriate, is what action is the supervisor taking?

The last component is the team itself. Are they meeting their key performance indicators and, if not, is the supervisor relying on the scheme outputs or are they monitoring this for themselves? An example of this might be a busy team not attending specific continuous professional development events. The supervisor should understand the importance of this, weigh up the workflows, and factor time in for the team to attend the event.

In any supervisory role supervision must take priority. There’s little merit if, as a sales team supervisor, the supervisor meets their personal revenue target, and the team does not. Or the supervisor attends a lot of off-team meetings, but the team does not deliver through lack of workflow control, training, or availability of the supervisor for consultation.

Should a T&C Scheme ignore the supervisors, for whatever reason, it is then effectively ignoring their teams as well. The supervisor should drive the team outputs. Get the supervisor supervising and the team will naturally operate more effectively.

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About Author

I am a highly-versatile and forward thinking management professional with a history of successful delivery across more than thirty years’ in the Financial Services Industry. Core skills include assessing, training, coaching, process design and implementation, specialising in people, processes, and procedures within a Training & Competence or Learning & Development framework. Periodic writer for T-C News.com

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