Magazine article Supervisory Management

What Effective Supervisors Do - and Don't Do

Magazine article Supervisory Management

What Effective Supervisors Do - and Don't Do

Article excerpt

What Effective Supervisors Do--and Don't Do

In their quest to make the workplace better, modern organizations have lately been stressing the importance of having supervisors who understand people. Communication, delegation, and motivation have almost become buzzwords. The truth is, however, that the effective supervisor--the one who can link winning combinations of people together--doesn't begin by focusing on other people. Effective supervisors start by understanding themselves.

Power points

Once supervisors know themselves well, they're better able to understand employees.

1. All people are motivated by something. The supervisor's job is to find out what motivates each person in the group.

2. Subordinates do things for their reasons, not their supervisor's. The task of the supervisor is to find out what their reasons are, and how closely they match the organization's.

3. An over-extension of a strength can become a weakness. What the supervisor takes pride in personally can become a serious liability to other people. For example, if the supervisor is punctual and punishes staffers who show up late to a meeting by refusing to acknowledge their ideas, some good ideas might be lost.

4. A supervisor can't motivate employees. So instead of trying to find new ways to "inspire" the team, the supervisor should try instead to create an environment in which staffers can become self-motivated. Offering carrots on a stick only works with horses.

5. Supervisors know more about their staffers than staffers know about their supervisors. In this way, supervisors can exercise more control over communication. They'll know how far to take an idea without having it rejected outright, for example.

Supplementing talents

A supervisor may be in a position in which the work demanded is significantly different from what was expected in the past. Does this mean relearning the job? Not necessarily. How about supervisors who surround themselves with people whose talents and work patterns complement the supervisor's? Andrew Carnegie was a great believer in this approach. His epitaph reads, "Here lies a man who enlisted in his service better men than himself."

Often people get caught up in their own ideas and ways of doing things (this is particularly true with many entrepreneurs), and they refuse to let anyone try doing things a different way. We are still raising generations of managers and supervisors in this country who feel that the secret of success is to clone themselves. …

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