Supervisor Skills: Secrets of Success

Planning for the Future through Learning, Growth, and Development

July 12, 2022 AEU LEAD Season 2 Episode 10
Supervisor Skills: Secrets of Success
Planning for the Future through Learning, Growth, and Development
Show Notes Transcript

Success in the 21st century will require continuous learning. The rate of change occurring in the workplace is expected to increase, and the skills needed by supervisors will undoubtedly expand. In this episode, we outline five steps supervisors can take to respond to the shifts already underway and better plan for the challenges they will face in the near term.

View this episode on our website.

About Joe
As Director of AEU LEAD, Joe White focuses on helping members transform operational goals into actionable plans through a structured change management process. Prior to joining AEU, Joe was a senior consultant for E.I. DuPont’s consulting division, DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS). He joined DSS in 2011 to develop the next generation of safety practices using extensive research in behavioral sciences he’s compiled over a period of nearly two decades. His efforts resulted in the development of The Risk Factor, which is now the flagship instructor-led offering for the consulting division. Combined, Joe has 26 years of operational safety experience, the majority of which was with DuPont. Joe has been published in Occupational Health & Safety Magazine for his prominent work in safety relative to behavioral and neurosciences and is an event speaker at many leading industry conferences including National Safety Council (NSC) Congress and Expos, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and National Maritime Safety Association (NMSA). Joe is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and has a B.S., in Safety and Risk Administration.

Where you can find Joe


Supervisor Skills: Secrets of Success is a production of AEU LEAD, a division of The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. With 60 years of combined industry experience, our supervisor training program gives mid-level managers in the maritime industry the skills needed to influence employees, customers, and peers. This increases employee engagement, reduces turnover and rework, and ultimately results in higher profits for their companies. 

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Author Jay Samit once said, "Lifelong learning is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for employment." In today's episode, we're talking about the need for continuous learning and development. Stick around. Hello, and thank you for joining us. My name is Joe White, and I'm the host of Supervisor Skills: Secrets of Success. The SOS podcast series is produced to create ongoing development opportunities for mid and frontline managers. With each episode, we take on topics of interest and share insights and perspectives for the benefit of our listeners. In today's SOS short episode, we're talking about personal growth through ongoing professional development, perhaps more so that at any point in time in the past, supervisors, and managers have a need to continuously refine and refresh their skills. While many hurdles to needed development exist, they pale in comparison to the consequences of not preparing for one's future success today. Let's get started.

The workplace is changing. At the same time, the workforce is transitioning. What worked well in the past won't have the same effect in the future. Those words capture what is broadly representative of 21st-century reality. Unfortunately, most companies aren't prepared to provide the skills supervisors, and managers will need to successfully navigate the challenges ahead. In terms of real-time and near term transitions impacting the working environment, the list is impressive. For the first time in history, technological advancements are outpacing implementation and adoption capabilities. Most experts agree advancements in technology will have a profound impact on the workplace for the foreseeable future, regardless of industry. As a supervisor, the impact of this shift will require advanced skills in both emerging technologies and change management.

Regarding supervisor capabilities, the future is much less about title and authority and far more about influence. Supervisors must learn how to achieve performance objectives through employees without relying on command and control practices of the past. Essential skills moving forward are those involving interpersonal relations, collaboration, and team building. To succeed as a frontline resource, supervisors must develop proficiency in social intelligence, broadly defined as the ability to effectively work with a diverse group of employees for a common and collective purpose. As for shifts in the workforce, we're now in the early stages of the most impactful workforce transition to ever occur. Incoming workers have an entirely different set of values and beliefs than previous generations. They're also very well-educated and have lots of options in employment.

Most won't work for authoritative or autocratic supervisors and prefer being coached and not managed. To prepare for the workforce transition now underway, supervisors must learn how to connect with, inspire and effectively motivate our next generation of workers. The rate of transition and the speed of change businesses will face in the decades ahead will exceed anything we've ever witnessed before. Because of the unique position and placement within the organization, supervisors will have an increasingly important role in the emerging workplace. The skills outlined here today are some of the more pressing ones needed now. There will be others, and because of that, an important part of your future success centers around a need for continuous and ongoing development, not just for the sake of learning but for preparing for the wide range of circumstances you'll need to navigate ahead.

So, what does a continuous and ongoing development strategy look like? How do you get started? Here are several recommendations.

1. Identify Needs

A large part of your ongoing development should focus on bridging existing gaps. Take assessments where provided, seek feedback and consider areas whereby you may currently struggle. Most importantly, be honest with yourself and address areas of weakness as a foremost priority. 

2. Understand the Issues

Another important consideration for personal or professional development planning involves emerging trends like digital technology. If you struggle with information systems, computers, or find digital technology foreign, it should be high on your list of learning priorities. While you don't need to become an expert, you do need a working knowledge of the basics and should become familiar with common terms and applications. 

3. Develop Skills

At the end of the day, it's about moving the bar. It's about putting in motion a plan that elevates your knowledge and skills and better prepares you for the challenges ahead. Your approach to personal or professional development should be slow and steady and spread out over time. Most importantly, it should be deliberate and provide skill development in advance or ahead of actual needs. 

4. Apply Knowledge

Knowledge is like paint; it's only valuable when applied. As you embrace and involve yourself with ongoing development, every effort should be made to apply learnings to the challenges involving your job. Historically speaking, less than 15% of off-the-job instruction finds its way to practice on the job. Finding a way to implement learnings, however small, will pay huge dividends over time. 


5. Collaborate with Others

 Collaborative learning involves open discussions and dialogue with others about topics, solutions, or strategies. It's a great way to introduce knowledge and skills learned and to sort through ways it can be applied for problem-solving. In addition to providing context and meaning for newly acquired skills, collaborative learning benefits all involved and should be taken advantage of when and where possible. 


As indicated in my introduction, learning is no longer a luxury; it's a necessity. The workplace is changing, and the integration of advanced technologies should be expected for the foreseeable future. In addition, the workforce is transitioning. What worked with previous generations no longer will. The only way you can prepare yourself and stay current with the skills needed for the challenges ahead is to invest in your future through continuous and ongoing learning and development. 

Thank you for joining us. I hope this information will help you grow and improve as a supervisor. We look forward to sharing additional podcasts with you in the months ahead and welcome any suggestions you might have for topics you would like to see us cover. We're always looking for guests and enjoy sharing insights and success stories from the field. If that's something you would like to be a part of, just let us know.

The SOS podcast series is brought to you by AEU LEAD, a consultancy dedicated to the needs of mid and frontline managers. We value and appreciate any feedback. It would encourage you to review and rate your experience with this show wherever you access your podcast. For additional information about AEU LEAD or to follow us on social media, please use the links in the show notes accompanying this episode. That's it for now. Stay safe, and thanks for listening.