Supervision. Is. Hard. There, I said it.
Supervision. Is. Hard. There, I said it. Perhaps I should’ve said good supervision is hard because it is. Back in my coordinator days, I couldn’t wait to get the opportunity to mentor and develop another professional. In my head, I thought it would be easy. We’d chat, I’d help them make sense of and gain deeper meaning from the work they were doing, and we’d have a mentor/mentee relationship that would transcend time. Little did I know it would be one of the hardest, most frustrating, and yet, one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
There is no one size fits all perfect formula, but during my time as a supervisor, I’ve picked up a few things to reflect upon:
Life is like a box of chocolate, but my reaction to challenging situations shouldn’t be We should be able to bring our whole selves to work. That means that there will be times that strife from our lives may creep into our work. However, when you supervise a team of people, they need to be able to rely on your consistency and thoughtfulness. Let’s face it, no one wants to walk into their supervisor’s office with bad news. They want to come in even less if they’re not sure which person they’ll get.
Be the wind beneath their wings Part of being a supervisor is molding and growing the next generation of professionals. No pressure! Lifting them up and supporting them in their professional journey is one of most rewarding parts of supervision. Figure out what makes your colleagues tick, how do they like to be celebrated? What motivates them to perform better? Sometimes just showing up is enough. I once read a Huffpost article about how good friends show up. By no means am I suggesting becoming friends with supervisees, but making the time to visibly show your support can go a long way. Take time to figure out how best to support them and then watch them grow, and help them fly.
K.Y.L. – Know your limitations It’s important to know who you are as a person and as a supervisor. What are your best skills? Where are opportunities for improvement? We’d all like to believe that we are the great, powerful, and all knowing Oz, but we aren’t. We need to constantly hone our skills and as painful as it may be, we also need to figure out how to solicit honest and actionable feedback from those we supervise. It’s only through continuous quality improvement that we can even approach the land of Oz, let alone be “the Wiz”.
Be Syran Wrap Employees highly regard transparency, authenticity, and support. Be crystal clear in expectations, congruent in words and deeds, and transparent whenever possible. Help them understand your philosophy behind decision-making. Gallup stated that most employees don’t know what’s expected of them. Don’t let your team fall prey. They should be clear on what your goals and expectations are, both individually and as a team. Lastly, be the cling (cheesy, but hey it works) that hold everything together. You are the person who has the power to uplift or decimate your team’s morale. Showing them unconditional support in both praise and criticism, will go a long way to help your team see you as someone they can count on.
There’s more than one way to paint a wall We’d all like to believe that our way is the best way. Often times we’ve done a portion or a similar job to the one that our supervisees are currently doing. So what? Whenever possible, let them make a task or project their own. Be open to different ways of achieving the end goal. As clarifying questions without judgment. Recently, a colleague shared a phrase that I will begin to adopt into my way of speaking. She said when asking questions, she often says “information seeking, not challenging.” This implies that you are asking for understanding but not to judge or change someone’s process. Seek to learn and understand and if correction is necessary, make it a gentle as possible. There may be stumbling blocks along the way, but learning happens when we allow them to stub their toe, but not break their foot. You may be surprised at a new technique that leads to a beautifully painted wall.
Now the school year is over or almost over, and we all have a plethora of extra time (year, right!), summer is the time for reflection. Think about how you’ve managed the projects and the people in your portfolio this year. What were your challenges? Successes? What can you retool over the next couple of months to make your team more productive, successful, and engaged? Supervision is hard, but if you take the time do it right, It can be oh so rewarding.