Try a little kindness

Supervising is not about giving orders — it’s about engaging your staff

Try a little kindness

In today's business environment, an effective supervisor is one who is able to achieve both great work results and happier, motivated employees.

He maintains a good balance between task-orientation and people-orientation at the workplace.

Unfortunately, I have seen far too many supervisors who are unable to balance these two elements well.

They swing to two extremes — either they are too task-oriented or too people-oriented.

Supervisors who are too task-oriented care only about deadlines and results, nothing else.

On the other hand, supervisors who are too people-oriented have a tendency to pamper and indulge their employees. They do not get the work done efficiently and to the required standard.

Both situations are not ideal. A balance is needed for supervisory and managerial effectiveness.   

Here are three tips on how to be an effective supervisor:

1. Be a coach and cheerleader    

In the past, the supervisor took a top-down approach and ruled employees with an iron hand — issuing commands, expecting total obedience and punishing them when they did something wrong.

The traditional supervisor struck fear in the hearts of his subordinates and had no interest in sharing his knowledge and skills with the employees.

His primary focus was to “squeeze” the maximum output from them. The traditional supervisor was aptly referred to as a slave driver.     

Over time, as the work environment evolved, the role and responsibilities of a supervisor also changed.

Today, the role of the modern supervisor is multi-faceted: leader, people manager, motivator, coach, counsellor and change agent.

You need to move away from the outdated practices of the traditional supervisor to that of the modern supervisor.  This is what you can do:

* Lead and manage your employees with authority, not fear.

Let them know that they do not have to fear you if they have put in their best efforts. Communicate more with them and work together to solve work problems.

* Teach and share your knowledge and skills with your employees. Coach them to deliver better work performance at the workplace.

* Motivate employees to do their best through empowerment and delegation. If they are demoralised by setbacks, cheer them up with pep talks and inspire them with your motivational stories.

Transform yourself from slave driver to coach and cheerleader in your team. 

2. Help them to achieve great work results

In one of my performance management and appraisal workshops with a multinational corporation client, a manager asked me how she could motivate her employees to do their best at work.

She shared that they were doing the bare minimum required for the job and were not motivated to contribute more.

I told her that she could do the following to improve the situation:

* Set stretching goals, key performance indicators (KPIs) and work expectations;

* Be fair and constructive in managing their work performance;

* Recognise, compliment and reward great work performance; and

* Penalise mediocre work performance.

Some supervisors and managers also lamented that their mature employees were not delivering their best. They said they worked very hard in the past and would like to take it easy now.

I told this group of supervisors: “Have closed-door sessions with the mature employees to thank them personally for their past contributions, but also share your concerns about the slower pace of their work.

“Highlight the present and future challenges the company is facing and let them know that they need to keep up with their younger counterparts.”

I also advised that if the senior workers could not keep up, they might need a change in their work portfolio to one that leveraged their work experience.   

3. Care for your employees

Work results are important to supervisors and managers.

In your push for better results, do not forget to care for your employees as well.

Try these three things to show that you care:

* Talk to them regularly and pay close attention to their well-being;

* Visit them if they are sick or have been hospitalised; and

* Offer a listening ear to hear their problems, whether they are work-related and personal.   

I encourage you to apply these three tips to become an effective supervisor for better work results and happier, motivated employees.  

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