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Six challenges to prepare for a new leadership role.

As recently as perhaps 10 years ago, the journey from rank and file to a supervisory role usually took a few years. Most companies preferred their employees to learn on the job and were willing to wait for them to hone their talents and grow into a leadership role.

But with the explosive growth of the BPO and other service industries, the upward movement from staff level to supervisor has been swift and relentless. Stories of new hires becoming supervisors within months have been prevalent- leaving many unprepared millennials facing unrealistic expectations.

Here are six challenges that, when overcome, will aid the transition from an individual contributor role to a supervisory role.

1. Results expected and accountability

An employee is responsible for the timely delivery of his/her own work output, as required by his/her superiors. Supervisors are expected to deliver team results, as required by their stakeholders. Supervisors are accountable to their respective functional heads as well as to other functions/departments concerning the team's outputs, operations, processes, policies, etc.

2. Type of work

Individual contributors are usually involved in carrying out tasks, activities, and projects pertaining to technical work. Supervisors, on the other hand, are responsible for carrying out management of the team's operations and processes, the work of all individual direct reports, as well as technical work that only the supervisor can perform.

3. Challenges handled

Individual contributors normally work with problems encountered when carrying out tasks (e.g. time management, tools and equipment concerns, supplies, procedures, etc.). If and when these challenges extend beyond the individual contributor's control, the individual can seek the support of the immediate superior who intervenes to work out solutions. Supervisors face the same challenges, together with having to support direct reports in working out theirs, and on a usually much larger scale-having to work out challenges with stakeholders related to systems, processes, policies, procedures, etc.

4. Decision waking

Whenever individual contributors need to decide on matters concerning challenges encountered, they are usually guided by their superiors, or by established policies, procedures, and principles. Supervisors will often have to make tough (sometimes unpopular) decisions while balancing the needs of stakeholders, and will need to manage the implications of those decisions

5. Career and competency development

Individual contributors are expected to hone their technical competencies, either self initiated or with the support of the company, thru the immediate superior. Supervisors are expected to develop their own competencies, while ensuring the development of their team's competencies, and career development. They are also responsible for providing opportunities and coaching to support the growth and development of all the individuals in the team.

6. Discipline

Individual contributors, being mainly responsible for their own actions and outputs, are expected to discipline themselves to conform to company rules, policies, and code of conduct. A supervisor is expected to promote self-discipline in the team, as well as to impose the necessary sanctions (following due process) when individuals in the team fail to meet or conform to the established rules, policies, and code of conduct.

The supervisor's role, being a line management function, is crucial to every organization. The supervisor serves as the important link between senior management and all the staff. Because of the challenges cited above (and possibly even more, let us know) that newly-promoted supervisors will experience and encounter upon assuming the new role, organizations need to adequately prepare and equip people so that they can fulfill the expectations and succeed.

These inputs are courtesy of Allan Gamboa, our resource person for the upcoming workshop, 'Supervisory Essentials Training: From Task to People Management' on Feb. 27-28.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jan 23, 2017
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