Empowering the Supervisor

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Just what is a supervisor? Well, there are numerous definitions. One I found was “one’s immediate superior in the workplace,” which depends on how you, or they, define the term “superior.” Probably a better definition, and one that I personally like, is “anyone who oversees and manages a team to ensure that they are performing effectively and satisfied in their role.” Add to this a definition of supervision that I also found being “a process that involves a manager meeting regularly and interacting with staff to review their work and provide support.”

Looking at two key words from the last two definitions;” Oversee,” which broadly it means monitoring, and “Interaction” which, as the term suggests, involves communication. Too often I find that supervisors don’t do enough of either, which surely should be the primary mandate for any supervisor, so that they ensure that their staff do the work and do it well.

It could be argued that there are any number of reasons why supervisors do not spend enough time with their staff. Perhaps they have a large physical workload of their own, or maybe their role demands that they spend a lot of time in meetings. Which begs the question whether they are really a supervisor or in some kind or principal role. Their job definition may include supervision but at the same time lack clarity or scope to allow them to provide effective supervision. Equally it could be argued that the staff may have a lack of knowledge, or perhaps are completing similar tasks but in quite diverse ways, but without the Supervisor’s intervention this may not be attributed to poor performance.

So, it makes sense the if we do not look after our people, we are simply allowing potential issues to occur.

People are key to any business’s success, and no more so that in our industry. Certainly, we can be more resource-efficient with technology and automation, and the last eighteen months have shown us how to be more efficient in many ways, but at the end of the day we still need people to undertake certain functions. So, it makes sense the if we do not look after our people, we are simply allowing potential issues to occur.

Creating true empowerment for Supervisors is a step which needs to emanate from acceptance at the highest level in the organisation that people matter, and that Supervisors need to look after people for real, and not just have it as a bullet point in the job description.

One way to do this is to place people at the forefront of the T&C Scheme. And in doing so, put everybody on a level playing field. Many T&C Schemes only include Advisers and Supervisors, but this could be, and should be, expanded to include Para-Planners and Support Staff. All the Supervisors need to have a clearly defined set of requirements designed to ensure that each can demonstrate looking after their people across broadly similar measures, with mandates set up to ensure that they are fully accountable for development and therefore the outputs of their teams.

Whatever mandate there was in the previous T&C Scheme, there should be some new must-have requirements in the new one. Regular communication should be demonstrated through monthly 1-2-1 meetings with each member of their team, documented and uploaded to the team members’ T&C file. Monthly reviews of at least one piece of work from each team member will help to ensure consistency of outputs and, where necessary, identify any training or coaching requirements. This of course, as a by-product, also helps to increase the scope of monitoring for the Compliance team.

To ensure that this empowerment has a positive outcome, the new requirements included in the Supervisor’s mandate must factor time required to meet the requirements. Too often we ask people to do something without actually understanding if we are giving them the scope to meet these requirements. As a guideline, a Supervisor should allocate at least two days for their team, and more where necessary. Any less than this would almost certainly not give the desired outcomes. Supervisors should be monitored to ensure compliance, and to identify where any support may be needed. A good indicator here would be to read the Supervisors 1-2-1 Meeting Notes to understand what happens in these meetings and what the supervisor is looking to achieve with each individual.

Finally, we need to ensure that the Supervisor, having be given the scope to appropriately supervise, have the correct tools to do this. Do not assume they have, ask what they need and, if necessary, set the tools up for them.

Years ago, I learned that a Supervisor is only as good as the people they Supervise, not the other way around. Something to think about.

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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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