Leveraging Supervisors for Performance Improvement

Avoid Assumptions About Their Competence & Readiness to Perform in All Areas of Performance

Too often supervisors, managers, team leaders, etc., are assumed to be ready to coach their subordinates in “How To Perform” as soon they step into the supervisory role.

They are expected to plan individual and team work assignments, communicate those assignments clearly and specifically, monitor work performance, and troubleshoot if needed.

All of that on top of all of their other duties. Back in 1994 my former business partners and I sat in our conference room with over 20 Management Analysis Reports we had produced for our clients’ training needs over the past 12 years, in order to generalize a model that would be used to quick start future Management Analysis efforts. My version of the model that we produced follows next.

Not every Supervisor or manager has responsibilities for each of these AoPs (Areas of Performance) which could also be called Major Duties, Key Results Areas, Accomplishments, etc. For example, not every supervisor is involved at all in Strategic Planning processes’ tasks and outputs. And not every executive is involved in monitoring the work of individual contributors – although they are likely involved with monitoring the outputs produced, or simply the results.

I’ve been calling them AoPs since the early 1980s unless my clients preferred some other label. I found that sometimes these other labels carried nuanced meanings or format requirements that didn’t coincide with my needs for my project’s purposes.

Rising Through the Ranks vs Rotating Through the Ranks

Most promotions are a function of people rising through the ranks from one position, in some upward path, to the next level, versus rotating through all of the positions before ascending to the next level.

That is the reasons one should avoid assumptions about readiness of new team leaders, supervisors, managers, and even incumbents, to plan assignments, communicate assignments clearly, monitor performance outputs and/or tasks, and then troubleshoot as needed, and also coach before, during and after the next assignment as needed.

Supervisors expecting issues might rather hide at their desks and busy themselves with admin work.

The issue is now perhaps magnified with remote workforce efforts, where the supervisor is at a loss to lead, monitor and troubleshoot those efforts. They might fear that their uncovered lack of knowledge might lead to a downgrading of the trust with, and/or their authority to, their team members. If you were already fearing being exposed, you might revert to non-productive behaviors, such as getting political with some members and relying on their judgements of others’ work performance competence.

The Imposter Syndrome is alive and well in the managerial ranks. At least I uncovered enough of it in the Analysis efforts for Instructional purposes that I’ve been involved in over the past 42 years, for me to conclude that.

Developing Competence for Self-Development

The Management Areas of Performance model was created to reflect 3 levels or tiers for the 14 AoPs:

  • Leadership Areas of Performance
  • Core Areas of Performance
  • Support Areas of Performance

The goal for the model was to jump start analysis efforts – and get specific and authentic in terms of the Outputs produced, the Tasks and sub-Tasks (Steps) performed per Output, and to establish the Stakeholder Requirements for both Outputs and Tasks.

Leadership Areas of Performance

This tier includes six AoPs that are sometimes the province of leadership levels of management, although other managerial levels and individual contributors are likely participants in the AoPs’ Processes’ Tasks and Outputs.

  • L1 – Stakeholder Relationship Management/System Governance
  • L2 – Strategic Planning & Management
  • L3 – Operations Planning & Management
  • L4 – Results Measurement Planning & Management
  • L5 – Process Improvement Planning & Management
  • L6 – Communications Planning & Management

Core Areas of Performance

This tier includes four AoPs, and is sometimes the province of first level supervision levels of management. They are linked tightly to the Processes of the Department (or function or team, etc.).

  • C1 – Planning Work
  • C2 – Assigning Work
  • C3 – Monitoring Work
  • C4 – Troubleshooting Work

These AoPs and the Process are what differentiate this Organizational Unit from all of the other Organizational Units of the Enterprise.

This is where the Value Chain work is performed for some this Organizational Units, and where other Organizational Units contribute and provision “enabler resources” to those Value Chain processes.

Support Areas of Performance

This tier includes four AoPs that are sometimes the province of the middle levels of management, although other managerial levels and individual contributors are likely participants in the AoPs’ Processes’ Tasks and Outputs.

  • S1 – Process Design/re-design
  • S2 – Human Assets Management
  • S3 – Environmental Assets Management
  • S4 – Special Assignments

This 2012 post provides a little more detail: https://eppic.biz/2012/09/08/management-development-assessment-and-planning-guide-appropriate-for-any-manager/

Leveraging Supervisor Competence by Building Self Reliance and Competence

I would never expect an L&D or Performance Improvement function to take on the responsibility for creating and maintaining the Supervisor, Middle Management, and Executive Competence across the entire Enterprise. Perhaps they would for the most critical Organizational Units, but not for all.

It would be a never ending task for Sisyphus, and would create dependence rather than independence.

I would want to start with a series of Workshops for all levels of management, starting at the top, so that they can wordsmith the language of the model, and reconfigure the AoPs if deemed necessary, and then Name their Processes. As a result they would then begin the processes necessary to own the model.

Then I would cascade those Workshops down each level with the levels above involved in the facilitation, so that finally the Enterprise has at least Named their many processes, so that those that need to be, can be better Measured and Managed.

For if I’ve learned one thing in my 42 years as an ISD consultant doing performance-based Instructional Analysis and Architecture, is that the vast majority of Enterprise Processes are Informal, in that they are unnamed, unmeasured and unmanaged.  And for someone like me, who targets Processes for Instructional purposes, that’s a challenge, getting agreement about what they are called, where one ends and another begins, who the Stakeholders are for each and therefore how they are (or should be) measured.

And, for the Supervisors, their Workshop would include their subordinates, so that they can collectively define their Organizational Unit’s Processes, Outputs, Tasks, the Stakeholders, and the Measures for each, as appropriate.

Then they’ll be more fully prepared to Monitor and Troubleshoot, and determine the best approach and people for any Coaching, Problem Solving or Appreciative Inquiry needs.

References and Resources

My 2011 book addresses this.

See that and all of my books at Amazon – here.


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