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  • Writer's pictureaaron hussey

People focus...what makes a good M&D supervisor?

Monitoring & diagnostics (M&D) programs are most successful when the team is led by a supervisor that has one key goal - program effectiveness. Program effectiveness can be achieved with a couple different styles of supervisor leadership - 1) hands-on in everyday operation; 2) hands-off with check-points. Think referee vs. coach.

In the first type of supervisor, the daily activities are closely monitored and most likely led by the supervisor. The day typically begins with a quick morning meeting and then priorities for analysts are set based on the supervisor's direction. The supervisor then checks progress before the end of each day/shift and weekly checks are also made. Roles are clear and tasks are clearly defined. The supervisor is involved in all activity and maintains command/control.

In the second type of supervisor, the daily activities are not closely monitored and are most likely decided by the analysts. The supervisor typically monitors the results of weekly activities and checks in on progress at various key points. Analysts are given flexibility to determine how to get the job done and are trusted to keep the operation going without clear task definition. The supervisor spends time maintaining resources and management support for the M&D program and also looks ahead to future needs.

There is a tendency to think that the first type of supervisor is a micro-manager, and the second type of supervisor is an absent manager. However, both are filling roles that are important to the success of an M&D team. In a larger M&D organization, the command/control tasks can be delegated from the supervisor to team leaders while the supervisor works more hands-off with check-points along the way. In a smaller M&D organization, the supervisor is forced to work hands-on in everyday operation in order to fill the daily roles that are critical to success. The hands-on supervisor often has to sacrifice the longer-term items of addressing future needs.

My advice to management that are supporting the creation, growth, or sustainability of an M&D program is this - decide what type of organization you want (size and shape) and choose the supervisor that can fill the type of organization. Change the role if the program is scaled-up. If you have a supervisor that can switch hats between hands-on and hands-off you have a gem that you should cherish!

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