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Long time lurker here that just got his first supervisory job. I'm both excited and a little apprehensive for the new position, it's largely managing a team of 1102s doing small buys for a civilian agency. I've been a CO for a couple of years but haven't had any real supervisory experience. I'm hoping you all could provide any tips or advice for a new supervisor. I'll be happy with anything (advice, thoughts, reading, etc.) that anyone can provide!

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Leadership is about big acts of courage and small acts of kindness.

-- Michael Ryan, CFA, Chief Investment Officer (Americas), UBS

He continues:

Quote

Effective leadership is about big acts of courage. ... The best leaders are those that act decisively in tackling challenges. They don't shy away from tough choices, and they don't deflect the consequences of those decisions to others. After fully weighing the risks and rewards of their decisions they then fully commit to a course of action even when conventional wisdom says not to.

But leadership is also about small acts of kindness. ... The most effective leaders also embody a sense of compassion that inspires and motivates those they are tasked to lead. They see their teams not as interchangeable pieces in a machine, but rather as individuals who face their own sets of personal triumphs and tragedies.

 

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I was a 20 year civilian supervisor for an Army command. I think that I was selected for my knowledge and skills of the work we do. I moved from being one of the youngest (non-supervisory) employees in Saudi Arabia to one of the oldest and most experienced in my new office in Germany.

The stress of my initial supervisory position about killed me for the first 1 1/2 years.

Without getting into detail, I had to learn to let go and delegate to my employees to let them grow and take pride and responsibility for their jobs and their accomplishments. The Army sent me to a fantastic and eye opening course on delegation. Train and support your employees but let them own their positions. Seek leadership and supervisory training for yourself. 

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8 hours ago, Supes said:

Long time lurker here that just got his first supervisory job. I'm both excited and a little apprehensive for the new position, it's largely managing a team of 1102s doing small buys for a civilian agency. I've been a CO for a couple of years but haven't had any real supervisory experience. I'm hoping you all could provide any tips or advice for a new supervisor. I'll be happy with anything (advice, thoughts, reading, etc.) that anyone can provide!

Don't be like Michael Scott or Bill Lumbergh. That should put you in the top 50% of supervisors.

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8 hours ago, Don Mansfield said:

Don't be like Michael Scott or Bill Lumbergh. That should put you in the top 50% of supervisors.

Best advice so far.

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I would check within your Department/Agency for new supervisor training.  When I became a supervisor for the first time I found I had the technical knowledge and experience but very little when it came to being a supervisor.  Leadership is nice but if you have a subordinate that needs to be placed on a Performance Improvement Plan do you, as the supervisor, know what that entails and how to do it?

For reference below is a link from OPM on Supervisory Leadership Development:

https://www.opm.gov/wiki/training/Supervisory-Leadership-Development/Print.aspx 

In light of the Pandemic there are new HR polices in place with more coming in areas like: Excused Leave for Dependent Care/Caregiving;  additional leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) During the COVID-19 Pandemic; a new Paid Parental Leave Program; policies concerning teleworking, etc.  Much of these polices fall on the supervisor to know, implement, approve/disapprove for subordinates, etc.  

In sum try and get as much training about this part of the job e.g. being a supervisor as you can.  Good luck!

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I'm seeing a lot of the qualities reflected from your comments in my favorite supervisors I've had which I would seek to emulate (but not copy!). Be a real person and realize real people work for you, give them room and support to succeed, continue to improve my own skills, and limit TPS reports and indoor parkour to a bare minimum.

 

Is there anything in particular about this career field or federal service that you all feel is especially different for supervisors? Early in my career I felt like supervisors might have had warrants but rarely used them if ever (as if they were just for show), as I've progressed I've noticed that many of them just never had the time to really take on a requirement to the point that they could be effective. I'll be interested to see if that's going to be the case for me. 

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I once read a book with the author saying his golf score reflected his management ability.  If he effectively trained and delegated, he had more time for golf and improving.

The mantra in my last government job was empowerment.  Employees had to be successful or they could leave.  I trained, encouraged, and coached.  I waived formal contract reviews.  Employees could seek out as much advice and opinions as they wanted.  But in the end, seasoned people were accountable.  All seasoned COs had unlimited warrants.  Their jobs were supporting program offices through making the acquisition process effective.  That was a chief factor in evaluations.  The training budget was 5% of office operational cost.  If more money was needed, my boss agreed to finding more.  Another office priority was teamwork and collaboration.  Everyone worked together. 

It all starts with developing a close and open communication channel with employees.  Get to know them and their strengths and weaknesses.  Focus on improving and capitalizing on strengths.  Make your team better by leveraging what strong employees can do.

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2 hours ago, formerfed said:

I waived formal contract reviews.  Employees could seek out as much advice and opinions as they wanted. 

Not to focus on only a part of a great response but how did this go over with the rest of leadership? (Unless you were the top dog) My previous position didn't have formal contract reviews and it was fantastic, there was tons of room for innovation, collaboration, and accountability for decisions rather than COs simply trying to get things though the review process. Definitely something I would look to implement depending on how the team functions when I get officially on board.

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20 minutes ago, Supes said:

Not to focus on only a part of a great response but how did this go over with the rest of leadership? (Unless you were the top dog) My previous position didn't have formal contract reviews and it was fantastic, there was tons of room for innovation, collaboration, and accountability for decisions rather than COs simply trying to get things though the review process. Definitely something I would look to implement depending on how the team functions when I get officially on board.

I was top dog.  But subordinate leaders were upset as well as the policy people.  I advised everyone that any CO could use as many people they wanted for reviews, including all former members of the review board.  Or they could not have anyone else review their work.  The caveat is they were accountable for things going wrong.  I never anticipated how good the outcomes were.  The overall quality of all work improved significantly.  When people were asked to help, most gave it everything knowing their input was valued.

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