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Supervisors face tough decisions every day.
Making these decisions is like making a Chef’s salad. One has to decide on the ingredients needed to make it good. What lettuce to use because there’s a choice of Boston, Bibb, Butter, Iceberg, or Romaine. One needs salt but even that also requires a decision because there is Kosher, iodized, or sea salt. The cheese decision is next and there is American, Swiss, or Colby available to choose from in the refrigerator. And then there is a salad dressing decision with choices like shallot or herb vinaigrette, ranch, or bleu cheese. Finally comes the decision on the meat which may include ham, Turkey, roast beef, or all three. Then you have to decide whether to include egg wedges or avocado.
So, as you can see, many decisions go into making a chef’s salad. Likewise, many decisions go into being a good supervisor.
After supervisors make decisions on a task to be performed, they must decide which employees are best suited for the tasks and what specific parts of the tasks should be assigned to each. The next decision is how the tasks will be performed and which employees will require detailed instructions and guidance and which ones will require minimal guidance.
Next, the supervisor must decide how to monitor the progress of the work and which employees need praise for a good job and which employees are not producing satisfactorily. The supervisor will have to decide which steps to take if an employee’s performance is not meeting requirements.
Finally, supervisors need to decide how to keep their managers informed and whether to request assistance from the manager if the work is not going well. Just as making good decisions will make a great salad, making good decisions will make a great supervisor.
Leadership soup is chock full of ingredients necessary to make it good and tasty.
When it comes to selecting the key ingredients in the soup that are necessary for great leadership, consider the leadership situation. Different leadership situations require different competencies to fit the situation at hand. For example, some situations require courage, while others might require honesty and integrity.
If one were to ask me to taste the soup and identify the three major leadership ingredients in the recipe that for what leaders should do, I would have to settle on these:
Do be a visionary, Do be a communicator, and Do be a motivator.
In order to be a great leader and lead people in the right direction, one needs to know which direction to take. Consider a person standing at a fork in the road. Flipping a coin to decide whether to take Route A or Route B is not leadership. If this person had established the vision in the first place, the answer would be simple–take the route that has the best chance of making the vision a reality.
Secondly, a leader who can’t communicate effectively is heading for failure. This means having the ability to communicate up the organization with management, down the organization with employees, across the organization with coworkers, and outside the organization with customers. Any leader who can successfully communicate in these four directions is on the road to success.
Finally, a great leader must have the ability to motivate his or her people. This means not only inspiring them to be all they can be but also inspiring them to do all they can do. This is where that second prerequisite, communication, comes back into play. The leader must communicate with employees to find out what their motivations are and then use those motivations to inspire the employees to achieve their best. Any leader who can do these three things stands a great chance of being a superstar.
Expectations are alive and well in our interpersonal lives.
There are spouse-spouse expectations, parent-child expectations, and supervisor-employee expectations. If any one of the partners in these parings keeps his/her expectations hidden, then someone is likely to end up “in the soup.”
Consider the supervisor-employee relationship, for example. Supervisors have expectations of employees and vice versa. Supervisors expect employees to work with minimum guidance and direction, leave personal problems at home, complete their work on time, go the extra mile for praise and awards, help slower employees keep up, and keep neat and clean work areas, just to name a few. On the other hand, employees expect their supervisors to give them detailed guidance when assigning tasks, help them with their personal problems, give them reasonable deadlines, provide fair evaluations and awards, distribute the work equitably, and be competent leaders.
It is not uncommon for some of these expectations to remain hidden. When supervisors hear employees say, “I didn’t know you expected that, they should realize they are “in the soup.” When employees hear supervisors say, “You’re grown, I expect you would know better than to do what you did,” they are “in the soup.”
In order to stay out of the soup, supervisors should schedule periodic expectations meetings. In those meetings, the supervisor should give the employees the opportunity to share their expectations first and then the supervisors can disclose their own expectations. (If the supervisors go first, the employees might not fully disclose their expectations.) If any of the expectations are in direct contrast with each other, the supervisor should lead the employee in working out a solution or compromise.
Once all expectations are disclosed and agreed upon, there is no doubt what is required. It is very uncommon in the workplace for employees to have the opportunity to tell their bosses what they expect. However, bosses who use expectations meetings as one of their leadership strategies, tend to have better relationships with their employees … and stay out of the expectations soup.
We hear a lot these days about great leaders but seldom do we hear a lot about great employees. So let me share with you a few words about great employees.
First of all, great employees not only make great leaders successful but also, they become great leaders themselves. So what are great employees? Great employees get the job done even in the absence of guidance and direction from someone telling them what to do.
Great employees are always on time and never late for work. Being late for work is one of the top problems in the workplace today. Important things happen during the first few minutes of the workday. So is imperative that employees are there so they are on the bus when it departs.
Great employees get their work done on time. There’s nothing worse than a late report, especially when others are depending on the content of the report to get their work done. One late report can cause a domino effect on the entire organization.
Great employees get it right the first time. In order to do this, they confirm the details of the task or assignment before leaving their supervisor’s office. Great employees don’t usually ask for guidance on how to do a job. They do their research and discover the best ways of doing the job and then inform their supervisor. They say to the supervisor, “Unless you direct me otherwise, this is the approach I’m going to take.” The supervisor nods and smiles and says under her breath, “Wow, what a great employee!”
When bringing the supervisor a problem, great employees also bring a recommended solution. The employee is closer to the problem than the supervisor and it has always been said that the best solution comes from a point closest to the problem. Great employees will offer alternative approaches when they have done their research and can show that their approach has more merit. Additionally, great employees will now have “pride of ownership” because the solution is theirs and they will work hardest to make it a success.
There are so many other examples but these are just some of the things great employee do. Are you a great employee?
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