MRO Magazine

Supervision Suggestions: 16 ways to be a better boss… right now

Your employees are your most important resource. Without them, you can't sustain business growth. With them, you can do almost anything -- if you bring out their best through great leadership and supe...


November 1, 2001
By Richard G. Ensman, Jr.

Your employees are your most important resource. Without them, you can’t sustain business growth. With them, you can do almost anything — if you bring out their best through great leadership and supervision. Here’s how:

1. Set high standards. Don’t be afraid to ask your employees to stretch themselves. But be sure your standards are specific and reachable.

2. Listen to your employees. Most employees don’t like to criticize, and many do not even offer suggestions unless asked. So provide structured opportunities, such as staff meetings, listening sessions, surveys, or face-to-face brainstorming conferences, for your people to offer their thoughts.

3. Communicate your vision. Let your employees know what you’re aiming for. And share important business information, not just technical and product data: include goals, operating results, key strategies. The result: you’ll give your people the chance to feel part of a team.

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4. Affirm your people. Sincerely praise employees who use their unique skills. And publicly let your people know that you appreciate their work.

5. Remember the basics of good supervision. Things like weekly one-to-one meetings, systematic reporting, and informal checkups on each employee’s work all signal that you’re interested in your people — and ready and willing to help them.

6. Educate employees on policies. Don’t assume that every employee understands every organizational or personnel policy. When new people come on board, or periodically for current staff, offer informal workshops on the why’s and how’s of your policies. And be sure each employee has a copy of your policy manual.

7. Plan together. Involve your people as you develop goals and strategies. Their involvement will produce interest and motivation.

8. Initiate special workplace projects. Examples: A new “sunshine” committee responsible for social activities. A monthly share-your-story/tip/ technique lunch. A task force to implement a new maintenance method or practice. The result: a boost in team spirit.

9. Use mistakes as learning opportunities. Mistakes happen. The employee who is allowed freedom to make mistakes — and the opportunity to learn from them — will be loyal and motivated.

10. Give responsibility. Delegate, a little at first, a lot later. Your people are capable of much more than you realize.

11. Seek out professional development opportunities. Whether you’re a novice or experienced supervisor, you can always improve your supervisory and leadership skills. Each year, make it a point to attend at least one workshop or class focusing on this subject.

12. Offer professional development to others. Just as you constantly strive to better yourself, encourage your people to do the same. Don’t hesitate to send them to workshops, or even bring training specialists in. When it comes time for a good employee to move on, accept the transition with pride and enthusiasm.

13. Foster problem-solving skills. Some of your employees may be reluctant to take on complex tasks or solve problems on their own. When they bring problems to you, offer guidance and counsel — and then set them to work.

14. Discipline quickly and fairly. When you must reprimand an employee, explain what you’re doing and why in a thoroughly professional manner. Then get it over with and move on.

15. Seek out the best. When it comes time to bring someone new on board, take the time to identify the kind of person you need, and interview and evaluate carefully. The time you invest in the selection process will pay big dividends later on.

16. Say thanks. Everyone wants to be appreciated. When your employees know that you appreciate them, you’ll foster a genuine team spirit — and you’ll motivate them to produce their best work.

Richard Ensman is a writer specializing in management topics.