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  JULY 2012 Issue #005

Poor supervisors give vague or incomplete instructions when they assign work to members of their team. Great supervisors are clear about what is to be done, the special instructions, and when the work is to be completed.

When you aren't clear about the task or its details, your team members are left...

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As summer gets into full swing, welcome to First Line Training's newsletter. We hope you find it worth a few minutes of your time. We welcome your comments. Write to us at info@firstlinetraining.ca. And please feel free to forward this to anyone who you think might be interested.


Tips for Supervisors - "Pay Attention to Customs and Practices in Organization"

Poor supervisors tend to focus on what the rules, policies, and customs SHOULD BE in the organization. But great supervisors actually pay attention and account for normal practices in the organization when tackling a performance issue.

For instance, if you have someone arriving five minutes late to their work station but this has been a normal practice for everyone in the organization then you have a bigger problem than just having to deal with that one individual.

The next time you have a performance problem or dealing with someone ...

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Carter (not his real name) is a client who runs a busy printing shop. He has lots of experience and can do many of the jobs his people do at least as well as they do. He's been a supervisor for two years now. When we started our coaching relationship, one of his folks came in to his office as we chatted with a problem.

I'm a great believer in learning from whatever comes your way. I started asking why the exchange happened at all. What was the procedure for giving work instructions that the issue was still a question? What was this particular person's experience and training? And it turned out that the person was a mediocre performer. But it also turned out that Carter didn't really have any structure to his work assignments. He'd pass along the work order or a copy of the sales order, and ask if there were any questions. But Carter didn't think through the whole job, or consider what he knew about the person doing the job or whether this particular job was routine or whether ...

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A Land of Opportunity for Supervisors

It has almost become a spectator sport to project the size of the shortage of skilled trades people that Canada will need in the years ahead.

A recent Plant Magazine study suggested the shortfall of skilled trades people could be as much as one million over the next ten years. (Plant Magazine, May/June 2012, p. 17). By contrast, a recent study by the Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table concluded that over the next ten years participants in the British Columbia gateway (air, trucking, marine and rail and construction) will have adequate access to skilled labour. Somewhere between the two is reality. We only need to see a few of the capital projects on the books (literally hundreds of billions of dollars worth) to go ahead to tip us into significant shortages.

The shortages arise from attrition as the current members of the trades retire and from new opportunity. Unfortunately, the conventional approaches to skills training just won't cut it. Most BC manufacturers serve niche markets, and as a consequence they need niche skills. These are not skills that the apprenticeship programs are well suited to deliver, and the post-secondary institutions can't get enough people through these niche programs to make it worth their while. Which leaves it to industry - and by extension, to the supervisors ...

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Blog Posts
July 10, 2012
Tips for Supervisors - "Safety"

June 19, 2012
PDCA Cycle: Lego Style

June 12, 2012
Tips for Supervisors – "The Cost of Mistakes"

Upcoming Course

Uncommon Supervisory Leadership Program

August 13 - 17, 2012
Location: TBD

Learn the basic elements of supervision: how to train, how to improve process, how to handle problem performance issues, and how to manage your work day to maximize your results. 5 half days plus a 20-day coaching program to follow up.

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