Top 5 mistakes to avoid when building your supervisory team


October 11, 2021



Finding quality candidates for any job position can be difficult, but what about those who will fill vital management roles?

The ability to lead others is a quality that isn’t developed overnight. Great leaders are continually honing their skills and finding new ways they can make their team great, which makes finding them quickly a difficult task.

Unfortunately, many companies aren’t equipped with the right processes to handle building a talent bench where rising stars are ready to hit the ground running when the position opens.

So how can you avoid costly and timely mistakes to help build your talent bench? Phil Cooper, chief transformation officer of Evolve YT, explains the Top 5 mistakes companies make when promoting employees to management positions.

1. Not knowing how many managers are needed

“I can’t tell you how many companies just don’t understand how important it is to know exactly how many managers they will need in the next two to three years in order for them to grow without sacrificing service quality,” Cooper says. “Knowing this is critical to promoting the right people, putting them in the right seats, and having talent on hand and ready to go.”

Cooper explained that to determine how many managers you will need, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is your current revenue?
  2. What percentage do you want to grow, and over how many years?
  3. How much does each technician produce per year? How many do you need to hire for the growth?
  4. What is your span of control? (How many technicians per manager, e.g. eight technicians per one manager)
  5. Are there any of your current supervisors that are at risk of leaving or are performing poorly?

By answer these questions, you can quickly determine how many managers you will need to fill openings and start your bench. An example is below:

    1. $1 million in revenue
    2. Grow 20 percent every year for three years (grow $200,000 per year / $600,000 total)
    3. Each technician produces $200,000 per year; need to hire three techs to grow to $600,000
    4. Span of control is six techs per manager
    5. One manager is at risk of leaving

Total: one manager for replacement, half-time manager needed for three new technicians for a total of 1.5 managers needed.

So, this company needs at least two managers to grow the 20 precent every year over the next three years.

By utilizing this formula, you can determine exactly how many supervisors you need to grow your business over your given timeline. This information will also help you determine your talent bench and how many supervisors you need to build it effectively.

2. No bench: Great technicians don’t always make great supervisors

Too few companies have a formal process in place for determining how and when to promote employees.

“Companies tend to use ‘gut instincts’ on who they think should be promoted and not necessarily who wants to be a leader,” Cooper said. “So, how can you build your talent bench without knowing exactly who wants to move in up in your company without having something in place to find that out?”

By having a leadership program in place, those who want to grow and move up in the company will enroll in the program. During the process, you’ll not only determine their desire to lead but if they’re really cut out for being a supervisor.

3. No quick process to determine potential success

This mistake ties into No. 2 for a variety of reasons. If you don’t have a process for determining who wants to be a leader, you probably don’t have a process in place to find out who will actually succeed when promoted until you actually place them in a junior management position or full-fledged manager role.

“From our experience, we’ve determined about 50 percent of employees you promote to managers will be good, but the other 50 percent will be either average or poor,” Cooper says. “You don’t want to waste your time training or money on someone who has the potential to demoralize the people they are leading. It’s not going to help you when you’re trying to grow your business.”

Having a process in place for determining who will succeed or fail prior to putting them into a management role is vital to scaling your business without sacrificing your service quality.

4. Having ineffective supervisors that damage your good people

This is the biggest mistake almost every company has made at some point or another, and yet most companies still have not found a way to fix this.

“If you are putting people into management roles blindly, you are asking for disaster,” Cooper says. “You’re giving them the chance to damage the team they are leading, and to hurt the future of your potential leaders. I know, because I’ve gone through this myself.”

Cooper explains that when he was CEO of Cooper Pest Solutions, prior to implementing his leadership program, he had kept an ineffective manager, “and over the course of 10 years, we went through more than 20 technicians on his team. Every technician that we lost cost us $15,000.”

That was when Phil knew something needed to be changed.

“If your leaders aren’t making their direct reports great, then they aren’t good leaders,” Cooper says. “Our job as leaders is to make the people around us great which makes us great and helps the business grow.”

5. Holding onto ineffective managers long than you should

Referring back to his poor manager of 10 years, Cooper explained the reason he kept him for as long as he did.

“We kept him because he was a good worker who put in the hours and helped out whenever we needed him; also, we didn’t have anyone to replace him that we felt would be better,” Cooper explains. “This is the exact reason why you need to build a talent bench.”

Having a talent bench in place will help you avoid having ineffective managers in roles for too long.

This was the turning point for Cooper, and he quickly decided to create an internal leadership program to help determine his next great managers and build the bench of talent waiting for their chance to shine.

Cooper’s leadership program helped his company and team flourish in just a few short years, making him poised for acquisition. He knew that his leadership program was something that every company could benefit from, which is why he created Evolve YT.

To learn more about Evolve YT’s courses and other offerings, and how they can help you grow your business, visit the Evolve YT website.


About the Author

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Crystal Giberson, Marketing & Communications Coordinator at TRNZ4m

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