Retaining Talent: The Role of a Supervisor

Contrary to popular belief, pay is not the primary reason that employees leave their jobs.  The number one reason cited among job changers is the environment created by their supervisor.   To retain talent, companies must focus attention on their supervisory staff.  This means more than just picking the right person for the job; you must continually monitor how effective the supervisor is with his/her assigned team.

Knowing how to supervise does not come naturally.  Often, supervisors are promoted because they have an exemplary performance record, yet the skills required on the factory floor differ from those needed to encourage and engage employees.  These skills can be learned with support and coaching from management.  Taking the time to nurture your supervisors will pay off.  According to Rick Dacri, human resource consultant, knowing how to supervise “is learned and developed and with good training, lots of coaching and mentoring, along with experience and time, one can become good at it.  It takes a lot of time to develop a new supervisor, but it takes even more time to deal with the effects of poor management.”   The damage that can be done from a destructive work environment can affect your company’s morale, employee performance, quality and safety – ultimately, it affects your bottom line.

Employee engagement is critical.  Gallup, which has tracked employee engagement for 30 years, reports that less than one-third of employees are engaged at work, more than half are not engaged in their jobs, and nearly one-fifth of employees are actively disengaged.   If engagement is the key to retaining top talent, then the supervisor holds that key.  As the first line of leadership in an organization, the supervisor plays a critical role in creating a positive and productive work environment.

Good supervisors require a variety of skills – communication, organizational, technical and coaching.  Encouraging your supervisors to grow in these areas will make them more comfortable and effective in their new role.  Develop an ongoing plan for developing your leaders.  Recognize that your staff is your most valuable asset.  Coach your supervisors, invest in developing their skills and lead by example.

Because of the skills gap, companies will continue to rely on inside resources as a pool for new supervisors.  Companies must take the time to identify strong leaders and provide the opportunity for them to grow into effective supervisors.  With good training, support and coaching, you can effectively transition that exemplary record into an effective supervisor.

The Precision Metalforming Association, in partnership with ERC, is providing a two-part Supervisor Training Series.  This series addresses the need for companies to provide supervisors with tools to enhance their effectiveness and lead employees with confidence.  Topics include communication, conflict management, teamwork, problem solving and coaching.  The first session will be held on October 20-21, and the second will follow, December 1-2, in Cleveland, OH.  For more information, please visit

Contributions for this article provided by:
Dacri & Associates, LLC
SHRM Foundation


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