Scaling The Ladder

Follow my lead

You have been promoted and are now overseeing a team. Your team members will be made up of people with different educational qualifications, cultural backgrounds, personalities, socio-economic standing and work experience.

To meet the challenges of your new role as a supervisor, you will need to pay attention to the following areas:

  • Grooming. You need to look like a supervisor. Dress in a more business-like style. Consult fashion and lifestyle magazines for tips or consider getting advice from an image consultant.
  • Knowledge. Your work performance was the primary reason for your promotion. Your experience and ability qualify you to add value to the company. Make sure you keep up-to-date and well-informed about the industry you are in.
  • People skills. This is a key soft skill to acquire because you need to know how to engage your team members and get the best out of them to meet your goals. You will also need people skills to deal effectively with other department heads and senior management.
  • Self-confidence. Always act with confidence, even at times when you are unsure of yourself. This will inspire confidence in your team.
  • Quality control. Procedures and compliance processes are the nuts and bolts of any company and must be followed because they ensure a standard of quality.
  • Your role is to ensure that your team meets or outperforms that standard.
  • Speech. Strive to be articulate. During discussions, meetings and briefings, speak clearly, sensibly and to the point. Do not waste your words, your energy and other people’s time.
  • Writing. When preparing memos, summaries, drafts and other papers to your superiors, write in a clear, concise and grammatically correct style.
  • Time management. Plan your work and factor in times when team members may be taken ill or go on leave. You need to anticipate problems your team is likely to face and work with them on possible solutions. Time management is crucial, as you need to do your own job as well as supervise others.
  • Delegation. When you delegate tasks, you not only free yourself to work on more important matters but you empower your team members as well. Keep one another informed so that there is no duplication of work.
  • Building trust. Trust your team members to do their job well. At the initial stage, give them deadlines and gauge their comfort level and their level of diligence. Do not keep checking on them on minor details as this shows your own insecurity. Allow them the flexibility and freedom to learn and achieve things on their own. Spot checks should be conducted regularly when dealing with cash matters and for staff who need supervision.
  • Training. Teach team members the ropes and coach them effectively by giving them sufficient information on important matters and offering frequent feedback.
  • Decision making. Good decisions come with experience but you can start by getting the facts, carefully analysing them and remaining objective. Do not keep changing your mind on an issue as it will confuse your team and make them mistrust you.
  • Crisis handling. You are the person the team will fall back on when it encounters difficulties. Give constructive feedback and learn to think on your feet. Do not whine, blame, complain, gossip or put others down.
  • Networking. As you move up the corporate ladder, you need to have a reliable network of people who can give you useful information and advice. Make it a point to meet your contacts regularly and ensure that you give as much as you get.
  • Analytical. Not only would you be required to be analytical in your assessment of a situation, but one of the most important soft skills you should also have is to be perceptive and to assess people as accurately as possible too.
  • Techno-savvy. Have a working knowledge of the hardware, software and telecommunication products you and your team use in the office.
  • Negotiation. As a manager, you will be negotiating with other people on salaries, resources, deadlines, workloads, targets and so on. Learn the techniques of getting what you want and meeting the needs of the other party.
  • Competence. Act sensibly and show intelligence in the way you handle your tasks and how you communicate with your team and other people in the company. Read widely to broaden your mind.
Remember that there is no room at this stage in your career to be slip-shod and let others tell you your mistakes. Be thorough and conscientious in your work and be a pleasant and easy person to work with. - Source: Singapore Straits Times/Asia News Network

Article by Bernadette Jesu, who works as a consultant in a management consultancy services firm.