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Creating a personnel development plan

What managers should do to help mentor supervisors in their careers

To effectively create a supervisor personnel development plan, a manager must custom fit the plan to the intended learner.  In this column I will use an example to illustrate the critical factors. The development plan I wish to introduce is intended for a new supervisor.  “Sam” is a newly-promoted security supervisor — a veteran with the organization as a security officer and he is concerned about doing a good job.


May 25, 2009
By Dean Young

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It is vital for managers to assess the supervisor’s own self-identified needs. Sam identified the need to develop supervisory skills, including communication, both with internal and external stakeholders, and managing difficult employees. Skills that were identified for development involve crisis management, time management, strategic thinking, motivating employees, staff development, confidence building, and independent thinking. Commitment to effective leadership leads to committed staff which leads to increased service leads to stakeholder satisfaction, which leads to increased organizational support, and loops back to the beginning.  Developing Sam’s motivations to improve his role as supervisor will impact the organization, as well as his own professional opportunities. 

It is vital for managers to be active in the learning process. Being a central player in his development will benefit the manager to seek a dialogue with Sam and provide him an active role in his development.  Ultimately, it is best to allow Sam to develop independently.  Sam will benefit from being empowered to take the ball and run with it, with access to support from the manager when needed.  Officers are usually experienced members of the team, and they ultimately know what direction is necessary. 

It is vital that regular assessment take place.  The manager will need to meet with Sam regularly to guide his growth.  It will be necessary to seek input from Sam to determine what he thinks he needs and from staff to determine what they think their supervisor needs.  The manager must identify both internal and external resources, such as seminars and courses, and arrange for the funds. Additionally, the manager should plan on developing an ongoing plan to be worked into long-term budget planning.

It is vital that the supervisor delineate his relationship with the team. Understanding that a key factor in organizational learning is that of adaptation, it must be recognized that Sam must effectively adapt his role from being a member of the team to a leader of the team.  Such adaptation will require his ability to understand and meet higher expectations, greater responsibility, and to adapt to the active role of the culture of workplace, adapt his vision to daily operations continuously as each step of the process changes his work environment.  
Carrying out the plan for Sam should include discussion to explore changes in the organization, and discuss the implications of those changes, and to develop plans to address the concerns as they arise.


It is vital that supervisors possess a sense of discipline and the ability to dole it out.  The environment of the team will be a challenge for Sam.  In the event that part of the team is high-maintenance, borderline insubordinate or suffering from lack of performance, these are issues that can be challenges to a new supervisor.  The manager should be monitoring Sam’s application of the tools provided by the organization and learned in seminars/courses to ensure they are being utilized effectively, and provide feedback to Sam.  An additional tool useful to Sam when dealing with the environment is that of perspective.  It is vital that Sam continue to develop his perspective, which will allow him to explain issues to his staff when providing direction to them.  Sam must continue to grow his knowledge of how and why the organization operates as it does. The manager should ensure this continues by discussing departmental strategies and by giving him a candid understanding of the environment. 

It is vital that the supervisor be included. Sam’s inclusion at meetings with various stakeholders will allow him to participate in all aspects of his environment. To build Sam’s confidence in his leadership capabilities, he must have adequate information. He must also have the acceptance of those with whom he will be interacting. Sam has a role in assisting the organization as a whole to learn how to support the security function of the department. He must learn how to grasp the concept of strategic planning so as to effectively explain departmental process and direction.  Sam will develop an understanding of strategic planning through experience, and by the practice of selling departmental strategy to staff during staff meetings, and by creating operational plans to meet the strategy. This can be done by assessing Sam’s effectiveness of current programs and procedures in regard to their intended purposes.

Finally, it is vital that the manager be a mentor and take an active role in Sam’s leadership development. Most of a new supervisor’s issues relate to concerns over their abilities and communication skills.  Managers should be willing to develop a plan for Sam to review his performance in a supportive, but candid way.  It is important for any person to have a true indication of performance and whether or not decisions made were appropriate, and why. 

This plan should be documented and can be used to provide further direction for Sam’s development by giving him tangible goals and tangible reasons as to success and failure of decisions made.


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