Threats To And Opportunities Of Supervisors

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about supervision:

I just want to ask you that what are the main threats and opportunities of a supervisor in general?




Dear Uncertain:

Why do you ask? I assume that you are now or might become a supervisor. Supervisors don’t walk on water but the opportunities are there to do great things or to drown.Let’s begin with opportunities: The November 1985 issue of Supervisory Management published my article “Gaining Employee Commitment to Quality.” In that I said, “Supervisors, who realize that communication is their most important tool, will skillfully use language to talk quality.” Talking quality is not to be a dissatisfied, never can be pleased boss. But it is a persistent pursuit of perfection. It is keeping records. It’s setting reachable standards. The language for today’s supervisor is six-sigma lean management. Getting to that level of variance that is near zero tolerance entails rigorous analysis of one’s operations. It is an opportunity to learn about how the best do the best. It is praising quality where praise is due. To paraphrase Aristotle, “To praise a man (or woman) is akin to urging a course of action.” It is talking to machines as though they were people; feeding them well and keeping them healthy. It is identifying with your people and with your workplace. If you have scanned some of our the thousands of Q&As in our Archives, you will know I sum this up with my signature sentence: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. There is nothing better than engaging a work group in such a way that their egos are merged to we go for the deeply satisfying feeling that we are part of a body that is doing well and doing good. Are there threats to supervision? Bad bossing frustrates and that is bad, but worse still is that bad bossing can result in doing harm. Supervisory failure allows tragic mistakes. I wrote the CEO of Union Carbide after Bhopal–one of the world’s worst industrial catastrophes that resulted in the death and disability of thousands. Supervisors now know that safety is their most important job and that not only can their careers suffer if they fail but lives can be harmed because often they deal with products that can do harm. The two over arching roles of supervising are structuring and consideration. Supervisors can be models of how to plan. They can model how to structure their operations collaboratively. They can both model how to plan their own careers and be genuinely interested and helpful in the careers of those under them–helping them dream and plan, helping them get training and experience they need to have healthy careers.Supervisors, by how they interact with those around them, can harm people. Hundreds of the questions we receive are from individuals whose lives are made miserable because of their supervisors. The downside of supervising is that one can be perceived as an enemy, and too often that is for good reasons: For example, see Loud and Insulting Supervisor Question: “We have a supervisor/trainer in the office who talks loudly and is bossy. She insults the other staff by her snappy comments. She is very short with other staff.”The most serious threat to supervisors is when employees “go postal” shooting at them and others. Supervisors should be ever aware of how they treat those over which they have authority.Finally, I recommend the site of my co workplace doctor. Notice her advice about dealing with coworker problems. Anyone in the role of supervision can benefit for her advice; therefore I’ve listed her site and several posts on it: Tina Lewis Rowe Insights, Information & Inspiration · Who Should Confront Coworker Problems? · Asking For Employee Input And Actually Using It · Correcting Work Problems With Precision · Is Your Boss Not Interested In What You Have To Say? I hope these general remarks address why you wrote us. Please let us know what you do with our suggestions.

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