Are First Line Supervisors Worth The Investment?


For the last few years companies have increased spending on leadership development programs.  That’s a sign that organizations recognize their most important asset – human capital – is worth the investment.  I was recently reminded of a study that was done last year by Deloitte, an HR consulting company that found small businesses increased spending by 23% in 2013.  (The 2014 numbers should be out later this Spring and we’ll be able to see if the trend is continuing).  Large and medium sized company spending increase by 5% or less, perhaps because they did not have to decrease these types of programs during the recession that would have impacted small companies heavily several years ago.

Troubling to me is that first-level supervisors were found to receive the very lowest amount of leadership development funding per person.  The reason I find this troubling is that so many supervisors are promoted for technical skill or knowledge in a specialty area, or because they are subject matter experts who know how to complete tasks effectively as individual contributors.  What is missing here is the fact that first-level supervisors are rarely promoted because of abilities in leading, motivating, inspiring others or being able to effectively communicate, coaching and guide employees whom they are assigned to manage.  This group of first-level supervisor is so very key to implementing the mission of any organization, and may fail if they do not have development in leadership, supervisory skills, business communications, delegating, motivating and inspiring others.  It is the essential gap that prompted our organization to develop the Achieve Leader Discovery Academy, which is dedicated to transforming managers into leaders by providing skills required to balance managing tasks and projects with leading people.