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…

You're a Supervisor, Now What?

What do you do when you are promoted to a supervisor but feel like you are in over your head? Like so many people who become supervisors I started out my career as an entry-level employee and worked my way up. When I was chosen to move up into a supervisory role I wasn't the best candidate for the job.
So often supervisors aren't chosen because they possess good people and management skills. They are chosen because they possess strong technical skills within their chosen field. Just because somebody has shown an aptitude for a technical skill doesn't mean that they will be good at managing the people in that technical area.
It also doesn't mean that they can't learn it just like they learned their technical skill. The problem is that most companies do not prepare these people for this new, and very different role.
So, what do you do when you find yourself promoted beyond your skill set?
One thing you can do is seek out others who have gone through the same transit…

Empathy for the Person Not Just the Employee

It is easy to have empathy for our employees and the struggles they face at work, but do you also practice empathy for the individual person?
An employee's happiness and satisfaction at work aren't tied just to the internal factors of the workplace, they are also a product of external factors that originate in the employee's personal life. Our employees are whole people, not just one-dimensional beings. And while we can't control what happens outside the workplace we none the less need to be aware of anything that is going on in an employees personal life that is impacting their work life in a negative manner.

Our concern also needs to be about the person, not just about the effect that the problems are causing on their work performance.
Empathy has to come from a genuine place of concern. It can't be manufactured or superficial. So what can a manager or supervisor do for an employee that is having issues outside the workplace?
To start with you can listen. Just b…

Do You Have A Management Philosophy and Do You Need One?

What is philosophy and is it important to managers and supervisors? For the purpose of this post, I will use the following definition of philosophy as our guide: Philosophy as: A: pursuit of wisdom B: a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means C: an analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing fundamental beliefs (Source: Based on the above definition we see that philosophy is the pursuit of wisdom in order to gain a general understanding of values and reality. It is about analyzing the underlying fundamental beliefs of a system of thought. As managers and supervisors, we need to understand the concepts of managing people and resources as well as the belief systems that surround these areas. Without this understanding, we are merely going through rote motions that may or may not lead to success. Without a deeper examination of our actions and the reactio…

When Your Attitude is the Problem and How to Fix it

Attitude is everything. How others perceive our emotional state affects how they interact with us. You may be having a negative impact on your relationships with your team members and not even know that it's happening. Not long ago I was giving an employee his annual performance review. It was a very positive interaction with an employee that I genuinely enjoy working with. At the end of the review, the employee shared some very candid feedback with me about my relationship with one of his coworkers.
He told me that the co-worker felt unappreciated my be. This co-worker never knew what version of me he would see his first thing in the morning - the happy-go-lucky version or the sour version.
No matter how hard this employee worked, or how much extra he gave he felt like I didn't appreciate it. Why? Because I never said thank you and never told him what a good job he was doing.
At the end of receiving this feedback, I was a little speechless. I thanked the employee for his hon…

A Positive Attitude Can Overcome Any Problem

When problems are piling up and you feel like you are deep in a negative spiral a positive attitude can not only lift you up but it can lift up your whole team. It can be difficult to find the positive in a negative situation but it is essential to overcoming any problem.

The more we focus on the negative the more we shut ourselves off to the potential solutions to the problem. It is hard to see the possibilities under a pile of garbage.
So how do you regain your positive attitude when things are going wrong? First, start with a concern for other people. When we take the focus off ourselves, and our own problems, and look for ways to help others it helps put a new spin on the problem. It forces us to step outside ourselves and see a larger reality.
When we focus on others we see the problem through their eyes which will cause us to gain a new perspective on the issue. It also changes our attitude from one of self-pity to one of service. This can be empowering. When we realize we have…

What do you Value as a Manager?

As managers of people, we need to decide what it is we value. We also need to ensure that our values are rightly ordered to ensure that we are treated our people, and the organizations we work for properly. If we value things like power, prestige, and recognition then are we really serving our employees and organizations in the right way?
How can we serve others if our values are self-centered? That isn't to say there is anything wrong with wanting to be recognized and rewarded for the work we do. We should want these things. But if they become the overriding motivation for what we do then the people will get lost in our desires.
When we lose sight of the people we end up damaging relationships. All our actions as managers are dependent on relationships and serving others. It is the value of these relationships that lead to individual and organizational success.
So we have to begin with right values. I challenge you to sit down right now and make a list of what your career and pe…

Managing Generational Differences

We hear so much these days about how the millennial generation is affecting change in the workplace. It is said as if this is something new or unique. But are Millennials that different from previous generations and do we need to reinvent the workplace to conform to their values or should they conform to meet the organization's values?
I come from Generation X. We are the group that came after the baby boomers. Born from 1965-1984 (source: The Atlantic Magazine).We were known as being disaffected, spoiled, and moody.
Shaped by the post-Vietnam environment where nothing was to be trusted. The government was defined by Nixon and the 1970's. Our views of marriage were formed by the high rates of divorce we all lived through. We saw our parents as having given up on their values and beliefs in exchange for a comfortable, mundane suburban existence.
Existential angst became our stock in trade. We were rebelling against everything and nothing. And in the end, we became more like our p…

Dealing with Upper Management Decisions as a Middle Manager

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'r…