Contributed by Ruth Haag of Haag Ennvironmental Company
Typically, no one is trained to be a supervisor. We all have to learn how to manage people on the fly after we are promoted into a management position. When learning to be a good supervisor, it is helpful to keep in mind the things that past supervisors have done that you liked and those that you have not liked so you can use those experiences to guide your decisions as a supervisor. Here are six steps to follow to make sure that you become a leader that others are happy to follow:
(1) Tame yourself – You have to begin by understanding your personality and taming it. If you are too quiet, you will need to work on becoming more outgoing and decisive. If you are too decisive, to the point where you scare people, you will need to work on toning yourself down. You want to become a thoughtful, considerate leader who knows where you are going and is able to communicate that properly to the team.
(2) Have a goal – If you don’t know where you are going, you will never arrive, and no one will be able to follow you. Your goal can be as simple as “providing every customer with the best service” or “no injuries, no deaths on the job” or “make a profit.”
(3) Have a “clear, simple message” – You must be able to convey your goal in a sound bite. People can understand and retain clear, simple messages. You have to be able to repeat the message at meetings, in newsletters and in general conversations. If your people know the message, they will be able to follow.
(4) Look and act like a leader – People have a much easier time following someone who looks as they should. Your clothes should be clean and pressed. Your shoes should be polished. You should walk with confidence.
(5) Be trustworthy – People won’t follow you if they don’t trust you. You must be ethical and honest at all times. People trust people who are clear about what they are doing. People don’t trust people who say one thing at a meeting, and then say or do something different outside of the meeting.
(6) Care about your people – You can’t supervise people if you don’t like them. You shouldn’t become best friends with your staff, but you should know them and know what their problems are. Because you care, you should attend their weddings, and the funerals of their close family members. Because you are their leader, you should not attend more personal functions, such as their birthday parties. You need to keep yourself concerned with your staff, but not intimately involved with them. If you are really not a “people person,” consider another, non-managerial position in your organization.
Ruth Haag (www.ManageLiving.com) is the President and CEO of Haag Environmental Company, a hazardous waste consulting firm. Ruth is also a business management consultant. She trains supervisors to identify their shortcomings and tame them, while creating management systems that focus on their employees rather than themselves. She is also the author of several books, including a four-book series on supervisory management which includes Taming Your Inner Supervisor, Day to Day Supervising, Hiring and Firing and Why Projects Fail. She and her partner, Bob Haag, host the weekly radio show Manage Living, which can be heard on-demand on her site.