Seven secrets for supervisors
As a supervisor it’s important to focus on what you are really there to do. We believe the three key aspects of a supervisor’s role are to supervise specific ‘jobs’, the project in total and the team dynamics.
In the work place supervision doesn’t just mean ‘keeping an eye on them’ to ensure they do it right! As the supervisor you are the leader. You are the one who is there to motivate, inspire, and clarify, as well as to ensure the goals of the project are achieved – on time and on budget.
Ideally, the majority of your day should be spent doing these things, however at times the pressure from superiors can drag us into other commitments or the need to ‘do your own work’.
Many supervisors can be guilty of saying, “Half the day is gone and I haven’t done anything else except deal with people issues.”
We have two responses to this statement:
- That is what you are paid to do – to spend time with and ‘lead’ and support your people
- If you are spending valuable time ‘putting out fires’ and dealing with things that could be avoided, maybe you have a deeper issue, for example a lack of procedures, or a lack of training for the team
Here are seven secrets that will assist you with becoming an even more effective supervisor:
- Be available – ensure you make time for your team. Try to ‘catch up’ with each of them formally or informally every fortnight. We have a favourite saying “You can’t have presence if you are not present.” Your team needs to feel that you are approachable but also you need to make time to support, mentor and coach staff to ensure the ‘job at hand’ is getting done appropriately. After all, if you aren’t around the achievement of goals may not be getting completed and this is where you will be kept accountable by your supervisor and/or customers.
- Learn to delegate – you can’t do everything. You need to have faith in your people and give appropriate tasks to certain team members. This helps with not only getting the job done but also with their professional development. If your own ‘to do list’ is too long, maybe you need to get some help from your team.
- Keep people accountable – running an effective team and achieving goals relies on you keeping people accountable. Keeping people accountable means investigating poor behaviour, checking to see if people have met milestones and timelines and taking action if they haven’t, and it can even be about asking people how they are spending their time. Keeping people accountable can also uncover areas where more support, training or time spent with you is required.
- Develop consistency – this means ensuring that you treat team members in a consistent way, keeping them all accountable, having regular meetings, developing appropriate forms of communication and supporting the team to adhere to procedures. Consistency is what your customers, both internally and externally are seeking. Developing these aspects will eventually save you time as you won’t need to spend time on re-work (going over something you have already done to correct it).
- Encourages tolerance – help your team to appreciate the differences amongst one another and find ways to best utilise that difference with regards to achieving your goals. Encouraging a culture of tolerance will help you in your allocation of tasks. If people tolerate each other, this increases their ability to work better together, and this in turn reduces the time spent on addressing team conflict
- Model the way – remember the saying, ‘monkey see, monkey do’? Your staff watch every action, reaction and interaction you have. The way you act and react will set the tone for the culture of your team. Align your behaviour to the organisation’s values and set standards for professionalism and the achievement of outcomes. Be careful of what you say in front of your team. It’s not appropriate to talk about other team members, leaders or issues in a way that is negative, gossip or defaming decisions or the organisation.
- Demonstrate perseverance – no one follows a quitter! Often things don’t work out the way we plan or things can take a little longer than we first thought. Sometimes the plan we make isn’t the best. It’s important to be able to step back, review and keep going to reach the outcome. The last thing your team needs is a leader who gives up easily or just ‘throws in the towel ‘. The best way to persevere is to reflect on what is happening, identify key causes or learnings and then make a new or adjusted plan. Getting there in the end after you have persevered is very rewarding.
How well do you rate as a supervisor/leader on these seven areas?
You will notice these seven tips are all linked to personal qualities. That is what leadership is about – relating to people and utilising your personal qualities to motivate and inspire others to achieve. Some of these qualities you may have, and others you can develop. Seek feedback from a trusted source as to how you are performing and then work on your areas of weakness – it’s all about continuous improvement.