Posts

Why I Want You to Succeed as a Manager or Supervisor

When I started out as a supervisor I had no idea what I was doing. Nobody told me what I was supposed to do. I had a degree in human resources, but it didn't really prepare me for managing people. I didn't have any guidance and had to figure it out as I went along.
At one point I was so stressed I was starting to have anxiety attacks and I suffered from depression. It would have been easy to quit and go back to being a machine operator again.

But I didn't give up. Instead I read books on management and leadership and kept working on refining my skills and techniques. 
As a young supervisor I felt I was in over my head. The advice I received seemed thin and insufficient. The role models I had didn't really have the skills to deal with the changing workforce and the realities that a modern supervisor and manager faces.

Today's workers don't respond to authoritarian leadership. They want to feel empowered and self-directed. It is more important than ever to take…

Dealing with Upper Management Decisions as a Middle Manager

Image
How do you deal with the results of upper management decisions as a middle manager? Dealing with the decisions of other people and their effects is something we have to deal with on a daily basis. Most times it is the decisions of our direct reports that we have to deal with. But what do you do when a decision made by upper management causes problems? How do you tell the boss they are wrong? When upper management makes decisions that negatively impact the organization it can really put middle managers, who are forced to deal with the outcome, in a tight spot. It's not like you can tell the boss that they were wrong. If you can then be thankful you work in an organization that respects the benefits of honesty.
By the way, never tell the boss they are wrong. Even if they are a little tactful about it. Ask them questions that will help them to think more fully about their decision. Try to help them see better alternatives. But never come right out and just say "no, I think you…

Is it So Hard to Like Your Employees

Image
I know, employees are difficult. They can be unreasonable, childish, difficult, selfish, short-sighted, and stubborn. But without them, your employer wouldn't need you. The same adjectives could also be used to describe managers and supervisors.

Human beings, in general, are difficult and unreasonable. We all want what is best for us, not necessarily what is best for others. So we need to look past the negatives that other people bring to an organization and start to focus on what we can do to have a positive impact on these fellow human beings in order to benefit the overall team.

Nobody says you have to love everybody. That is reserved for a select group of people within your circle of influence. You don't even have to hang out with them after work. But you do need to find the positive in each person you deal with so that you can get the best out of each team member.

What keeps you from seeing the positive and finding a way to like the most difficult of people? You. Because…

Performance Reviews - Facts not Feelings

Image
Performance Reviews Should be about Facts not Emotions Performance reviews are one of the most unpleasant activities for a manager. And they are also unpleasant for the employee. Too often managers make the performance review about their opinion. Too many managers get hung up on how they feel about the employee and their performance rather than on the facts. When this happens it creates a tense situation where each side becomes embedded in their own emotionally charged beliefs. Facts Not Feelings When evaluating an employee's performance you should always focus on facts and not on feelings. When speaking about things that need to improve avoid phrases like: "I think...", "I feel...", "I believe...". While you may think, feel, and believe these things use facts to support the improvements you would like to see and to demonstrate where the employee has fallen short.
When we use subjective terms based on feelings it puts the employee into an emotionally…

Just Relax and Manage

Image
When I first started supervising people I was very insecure. I had no idea what I was doing. Every problem was a nail and I was a hammer. People got tense when I walked up. They were just waiting for me to get upset about something and blow up.

My leadership did not inspire people. Instead I put people on edge. A lot of people thought I was arrogant, the truth was I was scared. Everyday I thought I was going to lose my job.

After a while I began to realize that I was creating too much stress for myself and my team. My technique was not effective and I discovered I needed to change the way I was interacting with my team.

Getting angry and going off the handle on every problem did not instill confidence in others regarding my decision making ability. I didn't have a high level of emotional intelligence.

Another problem I had was feeling the need to always be in control. When some issue would arise I wanted to address it immediately in order to gain control over it. Waiting wasn'…

Coaching to Improve Performance

Image
Coaching to Improve Performance Coaching is a key skill every manager needs to learn and master to get the best performance out of all team members. No matter how good your employees are there are going to be times when you need to get them to do their job better.

Additionally, you will always have some employees who need extra attention, those who are good people but are just not meeting expectations. With the difficulty of finding good employees you need to be able to groom those employees who have potential but just need a little help.
When to Coach and When to Discipline Sometimes it is hard to know when you should coach and when you should discipline. Here are some basic guidelines. Coaching should be used when an employee is putting in the effort but is falling short of expectations. Discipline is employed as a last resort effort when coaching has failed. If you have attempted coaching, given the employee all the tools they need, and they still cannot, or choose not, to meet expe…

Consistency - The Most Important Attribute of a New Supervisor or Manager

Image
Consistency of Action I was thinking about what my biggest mistakes were as a young manager and reflecting on what is the most important thing when you are getting started as a supervisor. One word came to the top of the list - consistency. You need to act consistent in all your actions.

As a young manager I was awkward, unsure, and insecure. I always felt like my job was in danger and I did not know how to gain the trust of the team I led. This caused me to have a lot of stress and anxiety.

After a while I started to figure out better ways to engage people and get them to believe in me. As I improved my skills I began to gain more confidence. It was essential that as I started learning these new techniques that I used them consistently so that others would begin to develop trust in me. Treating people fairly, staying calm in the face of difficulty, and making good decisions were actions I had to take consistently in order to gain the trust and respect of my peers and subordinates.

N…

Change Habits, Not People

Image
Habits are the Problem Recently, I was having a discussion with a fellow manager about a problem employee. This employee is a great worker; skilled and knowledgeable. This individual is also someone who cares a great deal about doing what is right. The problem is that they don't have the best people skills. Time and again the manager has tried to coach the individual, and this person has even acknowledged their problem in dealing with people but is unwilling to put in the work to change the behavior. In talking with this manager, I told him that fundamentally you can't change who people are; you can only set expectations and hold them accountable, you need to focus on changing habits.
Focus on the Development of New Habits I truly believe that you cannot change other people. That is not to say people can't change, only that they are resistant to change. You can only change yourself - if you really want to. Because of this you have to focus your time on chang…