Expert Advice

By Hannah Wallace January 31, 2006

Q. I'm thinking of promoting an hourly employee to supervisor. What should I consider in making a final decision? Mary Mercurio Promoting a star performer to supervisor is not as straightforward as it seems. There are several factors to consider: hourly/salaried job status, impact on compensation, organization of the work, and leadership skills of the employee. First, is the supervisory position exempt from overtime (generally jobs paid by salary) or non-exempt (generally hourly jobs) according to the Fair Labor Standards Act? The latitude the jobholder has in decision making is often the deciding factor in determining FLSA status. If the employee is hourly now, what would be the impact of a promotion on their compensation? Is the person earning more now with overtime than he or she would on a supervisor's salary?, human resources manager at KHS Inc., offers this advice:

Second, is the work organized correctly? Should you consider a team-based approach for the work group instead of the traditional supervisor/subordinate arrangement? The role of a team leader is significantly different than that of a supervisor. Although not appropriate in all contexts, the team approach can produce dramatic results in performance, and be highly motivating for team members.

Another question to consider is whether the employee you wish to promote has the required leadership skills. Just because a person is highly competent at a job doesn't mean he or she will be able to motivate, delegate, assign tasks, discipline, enforce company standards and policies, and deal with sensitive personnel issues-all critical supervisory competencies. Many a new supervisor has cried, "I want my old job back! Just let me be an employee without the headaches again!"

Finally, if you choose to promote a person to supervisor, be sure to follow up with personal coaching and formal training. Excellent seminars are available for first-time supervisors. Call your local employers' organization or chamber of commerce. Because the relationship with one's supervisor is the key to job satisfaction and reduced turnover, it is crucial to hold the supervisor accountable for developing good working relationships with direct reports as well as for meeting work-group goals.

Mary Mercurio can be reached at (941) 359-4033 or [email protected]

Q. As a leader, what can I do to help the long-winded shorten their discourse? Sarasota-based planning, grants and facilitation consultant Karen Eber Davis answers: As a leader, you can help long-winded meeting participants contribute in ways that are more focused.

Before the meeting, establish a clear agenda. Set realistic but frugal time allocations; for example, "In the next 45 minutes, we'll discuss and decide on these three items." Prepare your discussion questions. Developing quality questions only looks easy. Write down several options and try them out on two to three people; if possible, simplify. Evaluate if the long-winded individual has other agendas. They might be seeking recognition or leadership opportunities. If that's the case, identify strategies to offer them "wins" in these areas.

At the meeting, state the agenda and time allocations. Before adopting other strategies, concentrate on listening 100 percent to individuals for at least one full minute. When people are really heard, they often can begin to listen. Have participants write down three responses to your questions. When people share their answers, request that they add only new ideas to the notes you jot on the whiteboard. Offer time guidelines (e.g. "Please answer in one minute or less," and "Since we have a very short time, please summarize your point in two sentences"). Ask questions: "I'm lost, how does this tie in to our agenda?" Or if the topic obviously doesn't, "Do we need to schedule a time for this?" "Are we restating, or is there something new you would like to add?"

Karen Eber Davis can be reached at (941) 924-4860 or

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