In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something else. ~Lee Iacocca
The educational component of management is often low on the priority list for many managers and supervisors. The manager must be concerned with teaching the worker and helping him learn what he needs to know in order to do his job successfully. Clarity of expectations is either the ‘Achilles heel’ or the blueprint for success for the employee. Every management position job description should include a listing of this function: 1) instructs employees in acceptable work techniques and skill development; 2) focuses on developing competence through individual and group conferences; 3) teaches and instructs staff in how to achieve high level job performance.
In essence, the educational component of management relates to the transmission of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed by the employee to succeed. Consider the following to aid your management efforts to make appropriate and effective use of supervision.
First and perhaps most essential, is to provide your staff with a list of general as well as specific expectations. The understanding of these expectations will form the basis for success or lack of it for employees.
Second, approach your supervisory work with a true and sincere spirit of cooperation. Commit to demonstrating your willingness to work and learn alongside them.
Third, take initiative. Focus on the importance of the key duties of supervision. Know what your supervisory duties are and complete them in a timely and well intended manner. Know what needs to be done not only for the entire team you manage; but also what the responsibilities are for specific individuals. Make sure you know what needs to be done and see to it that it gets done, don’t avoid, put off and hope that things will correct themselves.
Fourth, demonstrate a willingness to be a lifelong learner. As the manager, expect that your staff continues to learn and grow and diligently model that essential behavior to them. You should not be ashamed to say, “I don’t know,” when you don’t have an answer. Then commit to finding out what that answer is. Hold your staff accountable for the same.
Fifth, be conversant about the work your team does. Ask questions about what and how they are doing. Find out what they know and make recommendations as to what they need to do better to experience more satisfying work. As their manager, they expect you to know about their job, be able to talk to them about it and show interest in what they do. When you are aware of these things you can better understand how the policies and procedures of the organization enhance and don’t hinder their work efforts.
Finally, disdain criticism; it isn’t necessary. Commit to and embrace constructive feedback. Look for ways to ask good questions that help you hold the employee responsible and accountable for their performance. Questions like:
- Are you satisfied with your work?
- At what level do you think you are performing and meeting the expectations of your job?
- Please give me several examples of the high level of performance you believe you are demonstrating?
- What are two to four specific ways you think you can improve your performance over the next three months?
- What can I do to help you?
- What tools or support do you need to grow and improve?
I believe, in this way, you as the manager let the employees know that you care. Just as important, you let them know that they, with your help, have to meet expectations. They also will be held accountable for how they are expected to get the job done. When you treat employees this way, you can give constructive feedback with a smile and in most cases the employee will accept it with a smile as well.
A guy named Charlie Beacham was my first mentor at Ford. He taught me the importance of the dealers, and he rubbed my nose in the retail business. ~Lee Iacocca