Supervisory & Management IDPs

Targeting Supervisory & Management Positions

Federal Employee's Career Development Center

IDPs help employees improve performance in their current position, develop staff abilities that could enhance their promotion potential in their career field or another career field, or prepare them for managerial/supervisory positions. This chapter addresses the IDP planning process and KSA’s required for supervisory/managerial positions.

The process remains basically the same as describes in Chapter Four. However, you will need to focus your goals and develop KSAs to specifically enhance your supervisory/managerial skills. Follow the steps outlined in Chapter Four to complete your IDP and use the additional information presented here to focus your IDP and developmental activities to this goal.

Supervisory & Management IDP Menu

What Is a Supervisor?

A supervisor’s job is defined as getting things done effectively through others. Although the definition seems simple, the task at best is difficult and not for everyone. This section explores the supervisor’s many roles, and what skills, knowledge and abilities a supervisor requires to succeed.

Supervisors are a vital part of every management team; they are the link between middle and executive levels of management and the employees who do the work. Supervisors must have a unique combination of technical competence, individual energy, and ability to get along with and motivate others.

A supervisors performance is measured by how well they manage the resources assigned to them and the results they get from the resources in the way of output, quality, cost control, and customer satisfaction.
Supervisory skills fall into three categories:

  • Technical
  • Administrative
  • Human relations

Supervisory Roles

As a supervisor you are expected to place the organization’s goals above other job-related concerns. This means that a supervisor’s focus is towards meeting deadlines, quality and cost standards, customers needs, and employees who do the work. Supervisors plan, organize, direct, coordinate and control employees work so that organizational objectives are met.

Federal supervisors are required to perform a number of administrative duties. They must plan to reduce expenditures; utilize facilities more efficiently; improve procedures and methods; and secure effective results from people. Some of the day-to-day duties include Time and Attendance approval, training employees, developing teams, conducting meetings, performance appraisals, preparing reports, counseling employees, and striving to operate efficiently.

Supervisors take people with diverse backgrounds, skills, and interests, and build teams that can get the job done. They work with people at all levels, both inside and outside the organization and assume a leadership role for the organization. If that’s where your strengths are, then a supervisory position is for you.

Supervisory Responsibilities

Responsibility to Management – Supervisors are dedicates to agency goals, plans, and policies that are established by upper management. This does not mean that supervisors can’t influence organizational goals or effect change. In this regard supervisors carry out their occupational responsibility and communicate to upper management employee concerns.

Responsibility to the employees – Most supervisors are mentors, educators, and advocates for their employees. Employees expect their supervisors to provide direction and training, to protect them from unfair treatment, and to see that the workplace is clean, safe, uncluttered, properly equipped, well lighted, and adequately ventilated.

Another responsibility and factor that will determine a supervisors success is their ability to provide timely and succinct constructive feedback to their employees. Yet, this is one area where many supervisors are uneasy and ill prepared for the task. Read more about the benefits of constructive supervisory feedback.

Responsibility to staff specialists – The relationship between supervision and staff departments is one of mutual support. Staff people are charged with providing supervisors with guidance and help as well as pre-scribing procedures to be followed and forms to be completed. Supervisors, in turn, aid the work of the staff department by making good use of their advice and service.

Responsibility to other supervisors – Teamwork is essential in the supervisory ranks. There is a great deal of departmental interdependence. The goals and activities of one department must complement those of other departments. This may require negotiation regarding the achievement of certain short term goals in order to meet the greater good of the organization.

Responsibility to the union – In the federal sector 60% of the workforce is represented by a union. Private sector representation is approximately 13%. Union and management views often conflict. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to thoroughly understand the current union contract or contracts. There may be several unions representing different segments of your workforce. Supervisors must also keep the labor management relationships objective, maintain integrity of the department/organization and not compromise the responsibility for the welfare of the agency and its employees.

Responsibility to the customer – Increased attention to the customer’s needs. Particularly in the area of public service, supervisors need to serve the common good. Pride in the job shows through in productive performance, high morale, motivation, and initiative.

Supervisory Skills and Abilities

Supervisors perform a wide variety of duties depending on their jobs, their organizations and their individual abilities. Regardless of these factors, however, supervisors are usually expected to fulfill the following roles and functions:

Planning – Determining a department’s direction is typically referred to as planning. When supervisors plan, they try to identify the courses of action that appear to be the most appropriate to meet future conditions (goals) and devise programs for achieving them.

Organizing – Organizing develops the structure that will successfully carry out programs. It requires determining how to divide the total work of an organization into specific jobs and among individuals.

Leadership and Motivation – Supervisory coaching helps employees perform their work efficiently and on time. To provide this guidance, supervisors must understand how people act in organizations. Knowing what motivates people to do what they do and how to influence them through leadership to act in desired ways are two important supervisory characteristics.

Communicator – Supervisors function as information sources for their units and their employees. This activity is crucial because information must be transmitted to make decisions, and to help guide and direct the work of those in a unit. Communication and the exchange of information help a group do its job; supervisors facilitate such exchanges to ensure that all employees can complete their tasks appropriately.

Empowerment and Decision Making – In today’s federal work environment empowerment is essential to get the job done. Increased supervisor/employee ratios require supervisors to effectively delegate tasks and empower the workforce to succeed. Many organizations have reduced supervisory staffing from a ratio of 6 to 12 or more employees for every supervisor. Supervisors and managers are required to do more with less and the only way to achieve this is through empowerment.

Empowerment places the decision making authority at the lowest level possible through Partnership, Quality Circles, and Employee Involvement initiatives. Often supervisors are known by the decisions they make and they are judged by the consequences of their decisions.

Monitor and Controller – When supervisors serve as monitors they make sure that the organization’s work is being conducted and planned. Monitoring means determining that plans are being met and that sufficient progress is being made so that unexpected results do not occur. Monitoring activities are commonly referred to as control activities. Control is closely tied to planning because plans are the foundation of monitoring.

Change Agent – Organization environments change continually. Supervisors must continually plan for change and keep the organization flexible and receptive to environmental changes.

Manager Positions

In a managerial position, the incumbent directs the work of an organization; is held accountable for the success of specific line or staff programs; monitors the progress of the organization toward goals and periodically evaluates and makes appropriate adjustments; and typically performs the full range of the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Determines program goals and develops plans for the organization independently of or jointly with upper management.
  • Determines resource needs and allocation of resources, and accounts for their effective use.
  • Determines the need and develops plans or organizational changes which have considerable impact, such as those involving a basic structure, operating costs or key positions.
  • Considers a broad spectrum of factors when making decisions (or recommendations to upper management), including public relations; congressional relations; union notification and bargaining unit impact, public policy; effect on other organizational elements; economic impact, etc.
  • Coordinates program efforts with other internal activities or with the activities of other agencies.
  • Sets policy for the organization managed, in such areas as determining program emphasis and operating guidelines; understanding and communicating agency policies and priorities throughout the organization managed.
  • Deals with general personnel management policy matters affecting the organization managed, as well as with personnel actions affecting employees.
  • Delegates authority to subordinate supervisors and holds them accountable for the performance of their organizational units.
  • Develops subordinate employees to their full potential as well as keeping his own development on going.
  • Negotiates or delegates negotiations with unions when impacting personnel policies, practices and working conditions. This also applies to supervisory positions at a lower level.

Preparing for A Manager’s Jobs

The first step required to obtain a managers job is to master the supervisory skills outlined earlier in this chapter. Managerial success requires sound preparation in the supervisory basics.

An excellent developmental activity is to attain supervisory and staff experience. Development is much more than just taking training courses. In fact, one of the most important developmental activities is new or OJT experience, no matter what your learning objective is. Therefore, preparation for a managerial career must include those developmental activities which will provide an opportunity to practice knowledge, skills and abilities you are developing. In practical terms, supervisory and staff positions are excellent proving grounds for managerial development.

You must also learn the art and theory of managing human, financial and material resources. Just as with any profession, the state of the management art is continually evolving. Moreover, it is a life-long study. In this high tech era, it doesn’t take long to become obsolete. You must be computer literate today, deal effectively with unions, develop partnerships, initiate employee involvement processes, and keep up with your agency’s new human resource initiatives.

Pursue formal education opportunities whenever possible. Most agencies offer tuition reimbursement for evening college courses and other college training initiative programs. The academic experience is vital to the enlightened Manager who is not satisfied with maintaining the status quo and is continually pushing his/her organization to reach above and beyond itself. It provides a perspective that cannot be obtained elsewhere and gives you an opportunity to learn from others outside the government.

Your career development and training offices offer books, video and audio taped programs, computer based instruction, and online courses for the asking. You should also explore the availability of training materials at local libraries, colleges and universities and private vendors.

Self Assessment for Managerial Positions

Typical managerial knowledge and behaviors are included in the following assessment tool. Each is illustrated with examples to explain what the competency involves. Complete this assessment then review it with your supervisor to determine your present level of proficiency in each managerial competency. This is not a performance appraisal, nor will the results of this rating be made a part of your official personnel record; it will only be used as a starting point for your IDP.

You will already rate at or a above the level of proficiency required for acceptable performance in some of these competencies. Your IDP should focus on those competencies that require improvement. In some competencies, however, your present level of proficiency will fall short of the level of performance. These competencies will be the focus of your Individual Development Planning.

Read through the Managerial Competencies that follow and rate your present level of proficiency in each using a number from 0 to 3 on the rating scale below:

Scale Definition
0 No knowledge of or proficiency in the competency
1 Minimum knowledge level or can demonstrate this competency in simple job situations.
2 Intermediate knowledge level or can demonstrate this competency in routine job situations
3 Thorough knowledge level or demonstrate competency in complex or unusual job situations.

A rating sheet is provided immediately following the Managerial Competencies to mark your scores. Place a checkmark in the appropriate rating block for each competency. Review your answers with your immediate supervisor during your IDP meeting.

Managerial Competencies

1. Knowledge of Agency/Region/Division Organization, responsibilities and Role.

  •  Understand mission/program of Division.
  • Understand formal and informal organizational structure and key staff interrelationships in the Region/Division.
  • Ability to interact successfully with agency governmental and non-government constituencies.
  •  Awareness of how program goals relate to Regional/National policy.
  • Ability to integrate program activities with other regional units.

2. Know Manager’s Role.

  • Ability to make program decisions based on the expertise of others.
  • Ability to interpret organizational requirements for subordinates.
  • Ability to secure understanding and support from higher level management.
  • Ability to use informal, as well as formal, networks to build support for one’s programs.
  • Ability to coordinate diverse elements of a program.
  • Ability to develop the potential of subordinates.

3. Setting Objectives and Evaluating Accomplishments.

  • Ability to articulate the mission of the unit for which the objectives are being set.
  • Ability to realistically estimate the resources necessary to accomplish objectives.
  • Ability to state objectives in specific, measurable terms.
  • Ability to communicate objectives persuasively and clearly.
  • Ability to relate objectives to broader program goals.
  • Ability to establish criteria by which to judge progress toward accomplishment of objectives (tangible and intangible).

4. Making Timely Decisions.

  • Ability to effectively manage one’s time.
  • Ability to recognize when time pressures require that a decision be made based upon incomplete information and/or without consultation.
  • Ability to accurately identify the causes and symptoms of a problem.
  • Ability to anticipate consequences and weigh a variety of considerations.
  • Ability to apply systematic approaches to decision making.
  • Ability to recognize the need for and use of quantitative methods to arrive at decisions when appropriate.
  • Ability to use both individual and group techniques for arriving at decisions.

5. Establishing Priorities.

  • Ability to estimate the relative costs and benefits of competing alternatives.
  • Ability to project how well various alternatives will compliment the total activities of a unit or organization.
  • Ability to assess intangible aspects of priorities and alternatives, such as subordinate and peer acceptance, possible conflicts with other organizations, and public reaction.
  • Ability to interpret quantitative data/analyses relevant to establishing priorities and selecting alternatives.

6. Developing and Implementing Action Plans for Program Accomplishment.

  • Ability to integrate program and resource planning with other fiscal, personnel, material and administrative systems.
  • Ability to establish and use a systematic procedure for monitoring and periodically evaluating program progress.
  • Ability to plan and schedule work assignments and allocate re-sources.

7. Long Range Planning.

  • Ability to forecast changing needs to which a program will have to respond.
  • Ability to project when and in what quantity future resources will become available.
  • Ability to sequence and schedule the dissemination of information, the commitment of resources, and the establishment of control systems.
  • Ability to develop strategies for dealing with a wide range of contingencies.
  • Familiarity with the applicability of management science techniques in long-range planning.
  • Ability to coordinate long-range program plans with other future commitments of the organization.

8. Resource Organization and Structuring.

  • Understands that organizations must be designed so that key people know what is expected of them.
  • Organizes subordinate units to place decision making as close as possible to the point of implementation responsibility.
  • Ability to determine what functions and resources the organization requires and is able to relate these functions and resources in a systematic fashion which establishes clear accountability.

9. Effective Delegating.

  • Willingness to rely on the judgment of others on issues for which managers are held accountable for outcome.
  • Ability to assign challenging but appropriate elements of the man-ager’s job to subordinates.
  • Ability to assess the risk of having subordinates fail when manager will be held accountable.
  • Ability to monitor progress after delegating.

10. Developing Performance Standards and Appraising Performance.

  • Ability to set mutually agreed upon performance goals and criteria with subordinates.
  • Ability to provide frequent and timely feedback to subordinates.
  • Ability to explain how performance standards contribute to accomplishment of unit goals.
  • Ability to take personnel actions such as promotion recommendations or disciplinary actions based upon individual performance criteria.

11. Knowledge of Basic Management Support Systems, e.g., Budget,

  • Management Systems, Logistics.
  • Knowledge of functions and service that are provided to management by the various support staffs.
  • Understand the relationship between line units and support staff.
  • Be knowledgeable of the terminology used by the specialists in the various support functions.
  • Be sensitive to the potential for conflict between line and staff f operations and quick to resolve conflicts as they arise.

12. Knowledge of Agency Personnel and EEO Policies.

  • Understanding of staffing.
  • Knowledge of EEO regulations including discrimination complaint process.
  • Understanding of classification and pay administration
  • Understanding of training and employee career development.
  • Understanding of employee-management relationships and labor-management relationships.

13. Planning for Adapting to a Changing Environment.

  • Ability to identify and deal with the impact of change upon the organization and its personnel.
  • Provides opportunities for updating job knowledge, skills, and abilities.

14. Ability to Assess own Strengths and Limitations.

  • Recognizes that the behavior of persons in leadership positions has a significant impact on the expectations and performance of others.
  • Solicits and uses feedback from others about one’s performance.
  • Identifies learning needs and takes action to meet them.

15. Speaking/Communicating Skills.

  • Technical expertise, educational background, and/or career experience that demonstrates the ability to direct, explain, question, and respond to subordinates, peers, and superiors.
  • Ability to give formal briefings and presentations to a wide variety of audiences.
  • Ability to make extemporaneous and impromptu addresses to agency employees and public groups

16. Writing Skills

  • Ability to prepare memos, letters, and reports that do not need subsequent clarifications.
  • Ability to review documents and make improvements in the structure and language of the writing.
  • Ability to recognize when writing is sufficiently clear and change is unnecessary.
  • Ability to write in a style appropriate to the purpose.
  • Ability to marshal arguments persuasively and ensure suitability to purpose and audience.

17. Coaching and Counseling Subordinates.

  • Ability to assess the strengths and limitations of subordinates and provide for developmental activities.
  • Ability to perceive the needs of others accurately.
  • Ability to effectively listen to the problems of others and respond appropriately.
  • Ability to conduct interviews.
  • Ability to develop and monitor individualized career plans.
  • Ability to make informal resolutions of matters in dispute.

18. Giving and Receiving Feedback Constructively.

  • Ability to accurately assess the behavior and capabilities of others (subordinates, peers, superiors).
  • Ability to affect the behavior of others by supportive or corrective comments.
  • Ability to weigh the merits of criticism even when it is angry or hostile.
  • Ability to ignore unfounded praise or blame.
  • Ability to interpret non-verbal signals as a source of feedback.

19. Ability to Deal with Diversity in People and Viewpoints.

  • Demonstrates sensitivity to the problems that surround a given situation.
  • Demonstrates open-mindedness and an even-handed response in disputes.
  • Identifies and understands work behavior patterns, the constructive change where needed.
  • Ability to face up to and resolve conflict.
  • Ability to remain calm under pressure.
  • Recognizes when one’s perceptions impede understanding of other points of view.
  • Ability to recognize personal biases and stereotyping in oneself and others.

20. Knowledge of Various Leadership Styles.

  • Be knowledgeable in the major theories and models of leadership.
  • Recognizes the major factors, such as type of decision and time available, which impact on the effectiveness of leadership approaches.
  • Ability to adopt a leadership style appropriate to a given situation.

21. Ability to Motivate Others.

  • Has a sound and up-to-date knowledge of modern theories of motivation and their application in the work place.
  • Ability to analyze the climate of the organization and implement or recommend motivational strategies to increase productivity and/or job satisfaction.
  • Ability to recognize when and where strategies to increase motivation are inappropriate and likely to fail.
  • Ability to support employee morale in difficult circumstances.

22. Ability to Negotiate.

  • Ability to identify quickly and clearly major areas of disagreement and mutual areas of agreement.
  • Ability to produce workable solutions acceptable to parties in disagreement.
  • Ability to recognize when compromise is necessary.

23. Familiarity with Technological Developments.

  • Ability to anticipate possible changes in mission and procedures as a consequence of technological change.
  • Keeps up-to-date on technological developments/trends directly relevant to program responsibilities.

24. Ability to supervise technical work of others.

  • Has up-to-date knowledge of technical specialties of subordinates.
  • Required to use technical knowledge of specialty in supervision.

25. Know and Understand the Labor Management Relations processes.

  • Ability to differentiate between negotiable & non-negotiable issues.
  • Understands the union contracts for covered employees.
  • Can interpret the union contract for most articles and their impact.
  • Be sensitive to management and union rights and obligations.
  • Knows who the agency/unit union representatives are.

Download a copy of the “Managerial Competencies Rating Sheet to evaluate your managerial competencies.

Managerial Competencies Rating Sheet

Download and print out this Microsoft Word form to assess your management competencies. Use this rating scale to assess each of the 25 listed competencies.

Continue on to Supervisory Developmental Assignments