Supervisors, aka Bosses, aren’t often thought of as the employees with exemplary “people skills”, but our research shows that while supervisors who are considered excellent task managers are rated throughout the top, middle, and bottom it is the group of supervisors who are considered excellent people managers that consistently make the high-performers list.
Interestingly, even with this knowledge in hand, most companies focus their training efforts on the task & technical side of supervision.
Typically, they look at a list of generic people skills and write them off as overly simple, or disconnected from bottom line results. The hope is that the group of supervisors have picked up interpersonal skills along the way. After all, they interviewed pretty well and must have attended family barbeques… right?
Ten Supervisory Tips to Live By
When we speak with training departments about the types of requests they receive from supervisors we invariably hear about the desire to learn these people skills. They don’t just see and understand the importance, they live the importance of these skills on a day to day basis.
Yet when it comes to pulling supervisors off of their desks for training the wheels wobble. No one is quite sure how to quantify the value of the lessons, and therefore they are reticent about performing training.
If this sounds familiar to you, pass along this article to your supervisors – it’s a list of ten “People Skills” reminders – and don’t be shy about reading them for yourself either!
1. Don’t Take It Personally
Your subordinate employees are going to complain. It’s human nature to pick things apart, especially at work. Having employees that complain doesn’t make you a bad supervisor or bad person. Like it or not, hearing complaints is part of the job.
2. Do Take it Seriously
Some of these complaints will seem trivial to you, but they aren’t trivial to your employee. Don’t brush them aside. By being patient and listening to a grievance without judgment you’ll not only be better informed, but you’ll have begun to build rapport.
3. Put On Their Shoes
Supervisors are bosses, but they don’t need to be bossy. Before you hand out supervisory edicts to your employees about new tasks, put their shoes on. When you see the work issue from their point of view you’ll have a clearer view of what their objections might be.
4. Be Optimistic Without Over-Promising
Your employees don’t remember everything about their jobs. But they do remember every word, detail, and facial expression you use when discussing their careers. Sometimes we tend to toss out promises when we are in good moods, or when they are in bad moods, but there is no better way to lose your best employees than to make empty promises about their careers.
5. Use Common Courtesy
We open doors for strangers, and let them ahead of us in line – however sometimes we get so caught up in hierarchy that we forget to show common courtesy to those whose performance we rely upon. You won’t lose your status as their supervisor if you use a little basic common courtesy, we promise.
6. Watch Your Phrasing
Leaders use phrases like “Thank you”, “May I suggest”, “Perhaps you would consider” and “Great idea”. Taking your opportunities to adjust the little details in the way you phrase can make the difference between an employee happily attacking a task, or dragging their feet like an angry child.
7. Make Work a Healthy Challenge
Doing what you can to break up workplace monotony can be energizing. Giving your employees some new work, or having them occasionally switch tasks with someone else breaks up what might have been a dull day, and shows that you care about helping them grow.
8. Give Up Your Position Power
Don’t push your workers around just because you can. Remember that these are people and not cogs in a machine. Each employee you encounter is just like you. They have aspirations, feelings, and goals. And remember, they may just end up being your boss someday.
9. Disarm With Charm
If you are anything like the supervisors we deal with every day, there are times when you deal with employees who occasionally become angry and confronting. Instead of launching into a conflict, take a moment to disarm the situation. Ask a question that has nothing to do with work and be genuinely interested in the answer. Ask about their family. Ask about the big game. Ask about anything except the subject on hand.
10. Be a Teacher
It is your job to raise the level of performance of your employees, and there is more than one way to do it. Encourage their development, teach them anything you can. Showing a level of support for your employees begets engagement, and engagements begets performance.