Antecedents to supportive supervision: An examination of biographical data

Authors


Correspondence should be addressed to Samantha Paustian-Underdahl, Department of Management & Marketing, Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration, University of Alabama, Box 870225, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0225, USA (e-mail: spaustian@cba.ua.edu).

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to contribute to the limited body of knowledge of antecedents to supervisor support by utilizing the ecology model to explore the biographical information that differentiates highly supportive supervisors from those who are less supportive. We analysed qualitative biographical data from 65 supervisors rated as highly supportive and 63 supervisors rated as less supportive by their subordinates, comparing and contrasting their personality characteristics, work experiences, and life experiences. We found that highly supportive supervisors were more likely to see themselves as being warm and sociable, to think that their communication and leadership skills were their key strengths, and they were more involved in a variety of social and professional groups than less supportive supervisors. Supportive supervision is one way organizations can inexpensively work to build the job skills, abilities, and the interpersonal skills of organizational members. On the basis of the findings of this study, we propose some ways in which an organization can hire and develop supervisors to be more supportive.

Practitioner points

  • Utilizing the ecology model as a framework, potential antecedents to supervisor supportiveness are examined.
  • Implications for research and practice related to developing and selecting for supportive supervision are discussed.

Ancillary