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How You Supervise Matters


In the June 1, 2017 blog, I talked about the importance of the 'Why' in people management. Today we will discuss the ‘How’ of people management. ‘How’ a supervisor does her/his job is another enormously important factor in their effectiveness. There are two, yet equally important, aspects of supervisory effectiveness we will consider in this article. We will discuss a supervisor’s effectiveness from the perspective of those they supervise, and the perspective of the person that supervises the supervisor.

According to Gallup, the most engaged employees (the employees that give voluntary, discretionary effort and feel connected to the company) have supervisors that are open and approachable, and that help them set and achieve their goals by motivating them via their strengths. In a 2013 HBR article by Robert M. Galford entitled, “What Your Boss Really Wants From You”, he concludes that bosses want their employees to be: responsible (accomplish their tasks); able to recognize and know the status of company and departmental KPI’s; knowledgeable about their industry, the organization and the people under their charge; strong problem identifiers and solvers; able to get along with others. While what employees and bosses want are not universally agreed upon, I feel the lists above are robust representative examples of what both employees and bosses want.

For a supervisor to be as effective as possible, I have always advocated a management style I have dubbed - ‘The Considerate Management Style’. Dictionary.com defines considerate as:

  1. showing kindly awareness or regard for another's feelings, circumstances, etc.

  2. carefully considered; deliberate.

Without going into a significant amount of detail, the ‘Considerate Manager’ possesses the following qualities or characteristics as strengths: kindness, magnanimousness, open-mindedness, emotional intelligence, attentiveness and strategic. When analyzed very carefully the characteristics of the ‘Considerate’ manager reflect qualities that will effectively meet the needs of those under their charge and impress their boss. Combined with effective communication and intelligence, the above characteristics, or ‘Considerate’ management qualities lead to a highly effective supervisory style. In other words, possessing and acting in a manner consistent with these characteristics, positively influences the ‘how’.

As you can see, the majority of ‘Considerate’ qualities (and the stated preferences of employees and bosses) are behavioral in nature, as opposed to technical or job knowledge based. They deal specifically with ‘how’ a supervisor relates to people. It is worth noting, that it is very possible for a person to possess every technical and job knowledge skill necessary for the position, yet, fail miserably. This is due to deficiencies in ‘how’ they deal with people. Always remember, supervising is primarily about effectively dealing with people. Therefore, the ‘how’ matters deeply in supervision. The ‘how’ of a supervisor’s job impacts how they are regarded by those they lead and those leading them. Rising to the Top, co-author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn, put it this way - “The challenge of leadership is to be strong but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly”. This quote is a good embodiment of the actions of a supervisor that embraces a ‘Considerate Management Style’.

If the ‘how’ reflected in the ‘Considerate Management Style’ (or any other style) aligns with your beliefs about effective people management, is vital that you ask yourself a few pointed questions:

  • Do the Job Descriptions for our supervisory positions list any of the above qualities or preferences (by employees or bosses) as Position Requirements or as a part of our Essential Duties? For example: The [Supervisory Position Title] must be approachable and open to the ideas of others.

  • Are we making possession of ‘Considerate’ qualities a key part of our hiring/promotion criteria for supervisory positions?

  • Are we measuring ‘how’ someone does their job as much as we should in Performance Management? Do our Performance Management tools measure behavior (the ‘how’) enough relative to items like task and goal accomplishment, etc.?

TLJ HR Consulting can assist you with matching your Job Descriptions, hiring and promotion and performance management processes and tools to your culture and behavioral preferences. Let us help you find or refine the ‘how’ that fits your business and tailor your processes to hire, promote and retain employees that allow your business to operate according to your specific preferences and culture. Engage TLJ today to find the solutions that enhance your business.

#peoplemanagement #Supervision #JobDescription #PerformanceManagement

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