- Fair or double-dealing
- Honest or hypocritical
- Aware or clueless
- Self-serving or an advocate
Attract too many negative labels and you may breed employee backlash–often the death knell of a supervisor’s career.
Managing the range of employee expectations is a daunting challenge. Supervisors who tune out employees will soon find themselves dealing with unwanted and unexpected behavior.
Suddenly, some or all employees:
- Stop giving input at meetings
- Grumble consistently about assignments
- Become de-energized and less productive
- Challenge policies
- Complain to others about you
- Resist your direction, overtly or covertly
You know the situation is serious when you observe these signs in your best employees.
Supervisors often unknowingly generate backlash when they see their management style through their lens only. A supervisor’s job is a juggling act. Upper management, customers, and suppliers often create an engulfing noise can make a supervisor deaf to the voices and needs of their employees.
Sadly, there are also many supervisors who, for some reason, are uneasy with their own employees. When that’s the case, they tend to go into hiding, in a sense. They may stay in their offices, quote policy instead of owning their decisions, and/or take inflexible positions on the way work is done.
Communicate without fear.
Supervisors make their own trouble with employees when they don’t communicate what they do and why.
Many feel that if they say the wrong thing, they’ll get themselves cornered with employees down the road. But saying nothing only plants the seed for future conflict and backlash.
Here are six typical mistakes that supervisors make and how to avoid them:
- Making a knee-jerk decision. Just because an employee wants an immediate decision doesn’t mean that you must give one, especially when you have several implications to consider. Instead, say that you want to give the request more thought with a decision forthcoming at a specific time. Then make sure you deliver it.
- Taking a defensive position when challenged. Employees who question your decisions give you an opportunity to educate them about the needs and direction of the business. Your logic and insights help to expand theirs. If their questions cause you to rethink your position, then they’ve done you a favor and have created a special professional bond.
- Being dismissive about employee input–Your employees are your team; they make or break your ability to succeed as a supervisor. Treating their input as insignificant builds a wall that can create animosity. Employee input is gold. It helps you understand expectations that you need to manage and can provide ideas that can lead to important improvements that everyone benefits from.
- Avoiding face-to-face conversation–There is nothing more alienating to employees than a supervisor who is invisible, distant, and unapproachable. When employees feel disconnected from their bosses, their loyalty bond is likely to be weak. Supervisors need to be real by being present, eyeball-to-eyeball–not text-to-text.
- Continuously quoting policies and procedures–Supervisors need to own their decisions to engender respect. Too many supervisors don’t want to make decisions that they may need to defend, so they quote a policy instead Policies and procedures set foundations and parameters but they aren’t recipes. Supervisors need to apply policies in ways that meet their intent. Employees expect you to take actions that deliver the right results in ways that support them..
Being upfront puts supervisors in a position to create respect and confidence in employees. No employee believes that their boss will be right all the time. They just need to feel connected.
Supervisors who communicate with their employees, who are honest about what they do and don’t know, and who can be trusted to do what they say, will create the kind of relationship employees need–one that will hold up in good times and rough ones.
Photo from gever tulley via Flickr