Human Resources News & Insights

5 traits to look for next time you hire a supervisor

Here’s a checklist of traits you can use the next time you need to find the perfect person for a managerial position:

  1. Adaptability — A stubborn manager will cause all sorts of problems, especially as the workforce includes more and more twenty-somethings who have different values from their predecessors.
  2. Problem-solving skills — In some ways, a wealth of technical experience is less important than an ability to learn on the fly and handle all the new and unexpected problems supervisors face.
  3. Ability to listen — Recruiters know to look for managers who can communicate. But it’s just as important for managers to seek out communication from employees, respond to criticism and gather input from subordinates.
  4. People skills — This one’s a no-brainer, but many companies still don’t give people skills enough weight. It’s well established that employees don’t quit companies, they quit bosses — and workers are more motivated when they respect the person they’re working for.
  5. Self-confidence — You want to hire managers with strong people skills, but you’ll also want to make sure they trust themselves and their decisions.

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  • Judy

    Did you mean to say: In some ways, a wealth of technical experience is LESS important than an ability to learn on the fly and handle all the new and unexpected problems supervisors face. If not, can you explain your thinking?

  • David

    Yes, Judy, I’m sure it does mean precisely what it says. If you can’t learn, then a wealth of experience is just doing the same thing in the same way for a long time. Pretty much worthless.

  • Patrick

    Here is an example I use when training supervisors. I had progressed through the company and was top in my area. The Manager asked me to take over the Molding dept. I told him it was a big mistake, he asked why. It was not my area of expertise, I knew pellets went in a parts popped out that was the extent of my technical experience in mold injection. He replied we had process engineers setting machines up and procedures in place to detail activities of employees. What they didn’t have was a leader that would guide them and hold them accountable. I took the job and turned all 3 shifts around in one year. We were ISO certified 6 months later. I never learned to process the machines but I learned to read set-ups, move through information screens to verify settings and audit employees to quality standards. The rest was done by getting involved and working side by side with them. The desire to learn without getting bogged down with the details was key to my success. Of course without having the other 4 qualities on the checklist I would have failed quickly.

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