How do you supervise people who are more experienced than you?
Many years ago I coached Kevin, a young manager who had just taken the reins of the facilities department of a major university. At his first staff meeting, with his much senior supervisors, he said:
“As your manager, I’m here to help you be successful. You already know the goals of our department – to make sure everything works on campus – and you certainly know your jobs very well. My job is to take away any obstacles that keep you from succeeding. Then, it’s just you, your staff and the goal line.”
What sort of obstacles was Kevin referring to? Things like red tape, office politics, hierarchical nonsense, territorial disputes and so on. Kevin’s message left three critical impressions on his staff:
- Everyone knew that the usual complaints and excuses (Mary didn’t call back or I couldn’t get the information) wouldn’t fly.
- Everyone knew they had a powerful advocate for doing whatever it takes to make their goals and serve their customers (and on a large campus there were many customers.)
- Everyone understood that the ‘enemy’ was their competitors – the other educational institutions in the area – not “those horrible people in accounting.” The focus was on how we can make this university a super institution.
Supervisor Success Tip.
Are you an absentee supervisor or one who is an obstacle remover? Do you stand back from the action assuming you can’t change things or do you do everything you can to help your people reach the goal line? What obstacles are getting in the way of your people do their job and what can you do to change that? How will that motivate your people?
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- Copyright © 2012 Marcia Zidle business and leadership coach.