Apr 22, 2022

Thinking About Promoting a Technician to Supervisor? Here’s What You Need to Consider…

Thinking About Promoting a Technician to Supervisor? Here’s What You Need to Consider…

There’s no doubt about it—promoting leaders from within is great for a shop. It contributes to greater productivity, employee buy-in, and retention. However, as many already know, the best technicians don’t always make the best supervisors.

In this article, we will cover:

  • How to identify signs a technician is ready to be promoted
  • How to promote a technician in the right way
  • How to have a conversation with a technician that isn’t ready for a promotion

Signs a Technician is Ready to be Promoted to Supervisor

Wrenching and managing a team of technicians requires two very different skill sets. Some of the best technicians make the worst managers, and if those techs are promoted, it can wreak havoc on a shop.

To avoid that kind of disruption, the best thing managers can do is understand and recognize the signs of a technician ready to be promoted to a supervisor. The good news is there is no shortage of research on the subject, so we’ve compiled a list of the telltale signs a tech is ready for a promotion below:

  • Demonstrates they’re ready for a challenge
  • Already doing higher-level work
  • Excels at work without openly bragging
  • Supports their colleagues regularly
  • Has demonstrated loyalty by staying with the shop for an extended period of time
  • Shows strong interpersonal skills
  • Excels at problem-solving
  • Demonstrates true value to the company
  • Takes initiative
  • Responsive to coaching
  • Expresses interest in a promotion*

*The caveat to this last point is a technician may not always express interest in a promotion unless prompted by their manager, so it’s important to have open conversations with techs about their career goals.

How to Successfully Promote a Technician to Supervisor

1. Do a skills assessment.
When considering promoting a technician, it can be extremely helpful to perform a skills assessment during the interview process. There are many different assessments out there (i.e., DISC profiling, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Gallup StrengthsFinder, etc.). Regardless of which one you choose, skills assessments can give both the manager and the technicians insights into what type of leader they are, where their strengths as a leader lie, and where they can improve.

2. Set clear expectations.
Once a technician has been promoted to supervisor, it’s important for their manager to set clear, measurable expectations right away. The employee should know exactly what they are accountable for, what their goals are, and how the goals are being measured.

3. Provide adequate management training.
Leadership does not always come naturally, especially when an employee hasn’t been in that role before. Management training allows new supervisors to build up their confidence, develop communication skills, and learn how to effectively motivate their employees.

4. Be patient.
It takes time for employees to hone their leadership skills. Keep an open line of communication, encourage questions, and provide ongoing feedback.

How to Tell a Technician They Aren’t Ready for a Promotion

Oftentimes, a technician may think they’re ready for a promotion, but the truth of the matter is, they aren’t quite there yet. This can be a challenging conversation to have with an employee, but it needs to be addressed.

Whether it’s time for a formal review or not, set aside time with the technician to have this conversation. Avoiding it will only cause resentment and confusion, as the technician will have no idea why they aren’t getting promoted. A failure to communicate this to an employee is your failure as their leader.

Here’s how managers can handle the conversation tactfully and make it productive for both parties:

  • Identify the gaps.
    • Show the technician what skills or knowledge is required to be a successful supervisor, and show where they are falling short.
  • Develop a growth plan.
    • Next, lay out a career development plan for the technician to show them how they can develop the skills they need to get the promotion they want. Identify any training that could be beneficial, get them set up as a mentor in the shop, and provide them with different avenues to grow themselves as leaders.
  • Provide feedback regularly.
    • Check in regularly to see what progress the technician is making. Ask them what’s going well, what challenges they’ve encountered, and what you can do to support them in their career growth.

In summary, there’s a lot to consider when thinking about promoting a technician to a supervisor. However, open communication, clear expectations, and proper training go a long way. If shop owners/managers know how to identify a tech that is ready for a promotion, can successfully guide them into their new role, and provide constructive feedback to technicians who aren’t quite ready for a promotion yet, their shop and employees will benefit greatly.

Guest post contributed by Sara Kerwin from WrenchWay

Sara Kerwin