How To Select A Supervisor

Selecting the right supervisor is one of the most important business decisions for an entrepreneur. While large companies can withstand the damage of a wrong choice among a large number of supervisors, this can cause a breakdown in operations in small companies.
Recently, an entrepreneur friend of mine approached me with a dilemma. He was trying to choose between two personnel for a recently vacated senior post. One is a highly talented employee who always gets things done. However, he has only been with the company for two years. The other choice is less capable but is the most senior, having worked there for five years.
In an ideal situation, the qualities of a good supervisor could all be found in one person. The truth is that things are rarely clear-cut in real life. There are always many factors to consider. A job interview, for example, will only reveal to you one facet of the applicant; you must also take into account the reaction of his/her coworkers.
Here are seven tips that could help you find the best person for the job:
Do not choose a newbie. Unless there is absolutely nobody else you can trust, it is politically unwise to promote someone new over those who are more senior. This will cause massive demoralization and a host of other problems. This may trigger the resignation of key personnel. Quality of work will suffer and resentment will build up. The newbie supervisor will have a huge challenge to get cooperation. If you will be choosing a newbie, it is best to install not just one person but a team, if it is feasible. A newbie team would have a better chance of success than one person.
Select a person who is humble. Almost all cultures dislike swellheaded people, but Filipinos especially hate this negative trait with a passion. Most people know this, too, and may possibly adapt their behavior once promoted in order to gain cooperation. A mild case may be forgivable—but being conceited should be overcome to perform the work effectively.
Hire someone with above average technical competence. If the work entails technical skills, it is imperative that the supervisor be proficient enough to be able to guide his workers. There will also be times when he will have to do the task himself. While it is not absolutely essential that he is the best among the workers, he should at least be competent enough to command respect.
Find a person with leadership potential. We once had a supervisor who was great in all aspects except that he could not give an order. He just waited for subordinates to act of their own free will, or when he requested something and was ignored, he just performed the task himself. At first, only one hard-headed subordinate refused to cooperate, but when the others saw that the subordinate was not being disciplined, they decided to be like him since it was “permitted”. Eventually, production nosedived and the supervisor resigned. Sometimes there are people who are too softhearted to lead other people.
Get someone who is never tardy or absent. Again, this is not an absolute rule. There are some situations where it is justified to be tardy or absent. Still, you must be far more concerned about this because subordinates have a strong tendency to follow the weakness of their superiors. Also, while an ordinary employee’s tardiness/absence affects only his tasks, in most cases, a supervisor’s tardiness or absence affects his entire group.
Look for someone who can communicate effectively. This is vital in many situations—a supervisor should be able to express his opinions regarding work-related issues. Do not be content with someone who just takes orders. Competition is now so tough that you need to get constant feedback on how to improve. One of the best sources of feedback is the information you get from your supervisor.
Seek one who can be loyal to management. Observe if your potential supervisor is too attached to his co-workers. Have a heart-to-heart talk and see if he is capable of shifting his loyalty to management. Gauge from his words and reactions if he truly can handle no longer being a pal to his buddies.

*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. C-4, Sunday, May 19, 2013. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.