The Path To Leadership

Uncovering Leadership Potential: Nurturing Frontline Supervisors to Unlock Team Engagement

May 28, 2024 Catalyst Development Season 1 Episode 36
Uncovering Leadership Potential: Nurturing Frontline Supervisors to Unlock Team Engagement
The Path To Leadership
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The Path To Leadership
Uncovering Leadership Potential: Nurturing Frontline Supervisors to Unlock Team Engagement
May 28, 2024 Season 1 Episode 36
Catalyst Development

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Have you ever wondered why some teams underperform despite having seemingly competent leaders? It's time to unravel the myths around 'natural-born leaders' and address the critical need for developing leadership skills, especially among frontline supervisors. Join me as I share reflections from both my personal life and 26 years of experience in leadership development. This episode is a candid examination of the transformative journey competent employees undergo when they ascend to supervisory roles, and the significant impact they have on their teams' engagement levels.

Follow Catalyst Development on LinkedIn @catalystdevelopment, @drkatieervin, @jennascott, @emmablankenship

www.cdleaders.com

Theme music by Emma Jo https://emmajo.rocks/

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Sign up for SUPERVISOR 101: click here

Have you ever wondered why some teams underperform despite having seemingly competent leaders? It's time to unravel the myths around 'natural-born leaders' and address the critical need for developing leadership skills, especially among frontline supervisors. Join me as I share reflections from both my personal life and 26 years of experience in leadership development. This episode is a candid examination of the transformative journey competent employees undergo when they ascend to supervisory roles, and the significant impact they have on their teams' engagement levels.

Follow Catalyst Development on LinkedIn @catalystdevelopment, @drkatieervin, @jennascott, @emmablankenship

www.cdleaders.com

Theme music by Emma Jo https://emmajo.rocks/

Dr. Katie:

Hi everyone, welcome back to the Path to Leadership. This is Dr Katie Irvin and I am solo today. I am solo today because it is a crazy time. I'm sure you guys are all experiencing that as well, as we in school years, as we wrap up things for school, for kids, our own education. It feels like so many things get wrapped up as we lead up to summer, and so it has just been a real crazy time. And then, in full transparency, for me, we're just dealing with some family health issues, and so I've had to maneuver some of that.

Dr. Katie:

So I wanted to jump on because I want to talk about such an important topic and we've been doing so much around this with Catalyst Development this past year is really that frontline supervisor and, as leaders, as you're listening to this, I know this is a constant struggle for you, because it was for me when I sat in the human resources chair, and that's quite frankly why I created a lot of the curriculum that I created 17 plus years ago. It's because, when we took really great employees and then made them supervisors and then we just assume that because they now have the title and because they were really good at the job they were doing that. They're going to wake up the next morning with these magical powers of leadership, and we know that that's not true for everybody. There are some people that are just natural leaders and are just going to step in and do a really great job, but there's also there's people that can learn the leadership skills. They just have to be exposed to them. We have to teach them.

Dr. Katie:

I say all the time to people common sense isn't common and it's really not. We all grow up differently. We all have different experiences, depending on who our parents are, what we've been exposed to, our work experiences. If we came up under a really fantastic leader, we may have learned skills from them. If we came up from a really bad boss, we may have picked up bad habits from them that need to be broken. And it's so important that we don't just put people in a supervisor position and then leave them to fail Quite frankly. That's why I do so much of the work that I do now is because I believe even that top line leader, whether it be a C suiter, vp, whatever it is I really believe that most people want to be great. Sometimes they just haven't been given the tools and resources to be successful or they haven't been, given that really difficult conversation. That's so important. But today I really want to focus on that front line leader, that supervisor kind of that middle position.

Dr. Katie:

And if you think back, whether you're currently in a role like this or maybe you were in this role like 20 years ago and that's where I'm kind of channeling my thoughts here is you're in such a tough spot when you're in that position because you have some authority but you don't have all the authority. You're making some decisions, but often what you're doing is you're executing even just whatever that group is called, whether it's called the leadership team or the management team or whatever that kind of level is. So often what you're doing in that supervisor role is you're just secuding their work and you may give input and you may be involved and be given some thoughts, and sometimes you're just not. And that's a real challenge. And what's really interesting is Gallup did a survey a couple years ago in a shocking statistic that I'm not I say shocking, I don't think it should be is that when they looked at team engagement, 70% of whether they were engaged or not was directly determined by their immediate supervisor. So if you think about that, if we're the manager of the team and we have three supervisors working for us, and under each supervisor is 10 employees. That is 30 employees that you, as the manager, have a layer in between that impacts your employees' engagement, and that is a scary number. That is a big number and it's something that, as a manager, as a director, as a vice president, as a CEO, we can really help with that engagement when we give those frontline managers the right tools that they need to do their job. Have we trained them just on kind of the basics of what it means to be a leader? Have we told them what is actually expected of them? Have we had those really kind conversations?

Dr. Katie:

In my research for my doctorate, which is about workplace motivation, employee satisfaction, one of the key indicators of whether people are going to be satisfied and motivated is that they have the tools and resources they needed to do their job. So tools could be as basic as do they have a keyboard that works. I know that sounds crazy, but sometimes it's those little paper cut frustrations that just keep happening and happening that wear people out and they become disengaged. It could be some bigger type of things like do they have the training? Do they know what they're supposed to do, do they feel confident, do they feel comfortable, do they feel supported in the work they do? That's all really important to set people up for success.

Dr. Katie:

An interesting statistic that I also find is that two thirds of people are more engaged when they have a meaningful conversation within the last seven days with their boss. But then you ask those people when was the last time you've had a meaningful conversation with your boss? And only 17% of people said that even within the last year, they were recognized or praised for the work that they were doing. Okay, let that sink in A simple thank. You can help with engagement, and I know that sounds ridiculous.

Dr. Katie:

We were talking to several groups this past week and all about owning their path to leadership and really advocating for themselves and really, you know, owning their career journey and one of the things we really shared with them is your boss, your leader, is so busy trying to do their job. They can't always see the work that you're doing, because you're doing the work and that's really important. But also as leaders, as managers, as bosses, we need to take time to understand what our people are doing and recognizing and praising them for that, supporting them, letting them know that they make your job easier and that you're appreciative that they're there and that you're appreciative of the work that they are doing for Catalyst Development. Each month, we come up with themes for the month, and May's theme is, you know, may flowers, and for us, flowers are celebrations. It's the blooming of new opportunities. It's also giving people their flowers.

Dr. Katie:

How do we recognize and thank people for the work we're doing? And sometimes we underestimate that as leaders because we think we don't need it. Yes, we may not need a thank you, but it's sure nice to have that thank you. It is sure nice to feel appreciated and seen and supported, and people want to know that their work matters in an organization, that they're valued and that you care about them, and so, as a leader, we can never get too busy not to do that. That's so important, and our frontline supervisors really, really need that, because they're in a tough spot. They are leading people on your team. They are trying to make sure that they're being the best leader they can be to what they know. They're also trying to put out and support your initiatives that, quite frankly, they may not always agree with or, more importantly, they may not understand, and that's why they don't agree with it.

Dr. Katie:

If we come and just command for our frontline leaders to push things through but we don't listen to them, we don't validate their questions, we don't understand where their concerns come in, then we can create this layer of challenge between us which is so important. I think sometimes we forget to do that and, especially if we have not been a frontline leader in a long time, we forget what it feels like to sit in that chair. We forget what it feels like to have that frustration If we're currently the whether it's the ultimate decision maker or pretty high up decision maker sometimes we forget what it feels like to be in that middle, kind of shrugging our shoulders like, okay, here's what we're going to do, this is what we're told to do, and now they have to go execute it. One of my favorite people I ever worked with he would always tease that the executive team would come up with a dream and then we had to deliver the nightmare. It doesn't always have to be that extreme, but sometimes it is.

Dr. Katie:

Sometimes it's really challenging and we've got to remember that as higher level leaders, are we setting our people up for success? Are we setting them up to have the tools and the resources and, quite frankly, the support and the authority to do what they need to do. What I have always found really successful when I am overseeing frontline supervisors is I really I try not to micromanage. What I try to do is always be there as a support system, making sure that I'm going to help them grow and that I'm going to give them grow and that I'm going to give them the tools that they need to grow, but I'm also going to support them when they make mistakes. How do we help them grow? We're going to make mistakes, especially when we're younger in career. That's going to happen. But we've got to create that psychological safety for them to speak up, to share their mistakes and to learn from them, because if we don't create that safe environment, they're either going to blame other people or they're going to sweep it under the rug, and that can create more problems than necessary. So it's just really important, as we are promoting people or we're putting people in positions, that we're giving them the training and support that they need.

Dr. Katie:

I'm really excited for Catalyst Development. Like I said, we've been doing a lot of this work over the last year or so. We've had some clients who have done what we call our Corporate Leaders Program, which is a six month to year long, depending on how the client wants to do it, and it's just really intensive. Lean into what we call career empowerment skills, like those leadership skills. It's those things that we need whether we're 18 or 85. It's the you know, emotional intelligence, it's the effective listening, it's the you know, time management, stress management, all those kinds of things, and they're really, really important and to go really deep in them. But what we were finding was a lot of clients were like we love this, we also need something quick to give our new supervisors and managers a baseline to get going. And so we created Supervisor 101, which is taking the skills and tools and things that we teach and we've moved them into a more tactical, frontline supervisor bootcamp or crash course type of thing.

Dr. Katie:

And what I'm really excited about is we do it in person. But we are also getting ready very, very soon to release a asynchronous course that you can buy for your new supervisors and they can take it, whether it be on their timeline or the timeline that you agree with them, and we created it in a way where it is four modules and we created it in a way where it is four modules. Each module has four lessons in them and the lessons are anywhere from eight to 12 minutes, and so we're covering just those basics of what you need to walk through that and so if that's something that's interesting to you and that you want to learn more, let us know. You can go to katiervincom or you can reach out to us. All the information is in the show notes. But I just really firmly believe that having this foundation, whether you do it internally and there's a lot of organizations that do it really really well internally or whether you partner with someone like Catalyst Development to really give them the tools and support they need, you can really set up not just for success in their current career but really success in the future. So one of the things that, as we close out one of the lessons, at the end of each lesson, we give them homework and reflection and there's a toolkit and there's stuff for them to do in the Supervisor 101. And you all know, if you listen to the podcast very often, that Emma on my team loves to give homework. So I'm going to give homework here.

Dr. Katie:

At the end of one of our lessons I ask that the participants think about the worst boss they ever had. What are the qualities of that boss and how are they going to make sure that they do not exhibit those qualities going forward in their career? Because, truly, like I said at the very beginning, so often what we learn in how we think a leader is supposed to be is by people we've worked for in the past, good or bad and so who are those bad bosses that you don't ever want to be and you don't want your people to ever be like, oh my gosh, this person was such a bad boss and they're talking about you. We don't have to be bad bosses. It doesn't mean we aren't going to make mistakes. We don't have to be perfect, but we can strive to be better.

Dr. Katie:

So I hope you've enjoyed this. It's just something that we have been talking a lot about lately, so I know that a lot of people are interested in it and, quite frankly, that's why we have created the training that we did, because we want to make sure that we are providing resources and supporting all of you that are doing such hard work in your organizations and, quite frankly, you don't always have the time, the money, the resources and sometimes just quite frankly, the background or the skills or the knowledge to train some of this stuff. We want to come alongside you and support you in that work. So thanks for listening today, hope you have a phenomenal day and I will talk to you again soon. Bye.

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