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Information Age requires new breed of federal supervisors

By 2014 one-half of the permanent, full-time federal workforce will be eligible to retire—and many are already retiring. The majority of those retirees will be supervisors, according to a new report prepared by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

Because supervisors tend to be older and have more years of service, MSPB researchers believe supervisors are likely to retire at faster rates than other federal employees. And they will leave big holes, if not shoes, to fill.

In the report, titled “As Supervisors Retire: An Opportunity to Reshape Organizations,”  MSPB sees potential in this workforce change. The report discusses how the next generation of supervisors will have to demonstrate a different set of competencies than may have been needed in the past.

The way work is accomplished and the nature of supervision has become more complex in the Information Age. More federal jobs are becoming knowledge-based, and information technology workers are among the critical knowledge workers.

According to the MSPB, this changes what supervisors should be doing and calls for different duties, skills, training, and recruitment strategies. A knowledge-based workforce requires greater supervisory flexibilities, such as telework, and improved supervisory communication.

The report recommends that agencies use the retirement wave as an impetus to recruit supervisors capable of managing a modern workplace. For example, competency in supervising independent, educated and internally motivated workers should be assessed when selecting supervisors.

But the report concludes that, in order to engage employees, supervisors must also have strong management support and the time to devote to supervision.

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Dec 02, 2009 at 12:14 PM


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