I’ve been a supervisor for 15 years now. I made a lot of mistakes, but I’ve learned from them. I’ve also worked for a lot of managers over the years, and I’ve learned from their mistakes, and their triumphs too. I wanted to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned, so here are 8 ways to be a better boss.
Be a leader
“There’s a difference in being a boss and being bossy.” One of the ladies I use to work with told me this once when we were discussing our supervisors, and it has always stuck with me. Don’t be that boss who just likes to tell people what to do, and then leaves them to flounder on their own. A good boss is a leader. And a leader jumps in and helps pull the load.
Be friendly but not a friend
I told this to one of the young men I mentor at work. He said that was being fake. I told him that no it was called being polite. When you are a supervisor it’s hard to truly be friends with someone that works under you. There is always that line that you have to draw to keep things on a professional level. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t be friendly! A true leader will treat everyone the same. They will listen when their people want to talk about issues. They will make an effort to get to know their people. They will ask about their day, about their families. They will be sincere in their efforts. That is being friendly.
Have the hard conversations
One of the hardest things about being a supervisor is telling someone that their performance isn’t up to standard. But a true leader will do so. A true leader will put aside their own discomfort to help their associate. They understand that it is a disservice to that person and the company to let them continue on with a sub par performance. And they will take the time to work with the associate to develop a plan to improve their performance.
Hold people accountable
When someone misses work, breaks company guidelines, or consistently has a below standard performance, you have to hold them accountable. Your team will know when you don’t, and it will hurt morale. The attitude of those that work for you will become that of “why should I do my best when so and so doesn’t have to?” It’s a dangerous slope to go down.
Set the example
Some managers think the rules don’t apply to them. But guess what? They do! If you take 30 minute breaks or you’re constantly on your phone or you like to sit around talking instead of working, it will be hard to hold your associates accountable when they do the same. Your people are watching you. They notice everything that you do. And they will lose respect for you, if you try to hold them accountable to a policy that you yourself are always breaking.
Set clear expectations
The average stocker can do 50 cases an hour. But I have some stockers that can stock 100 cases an hour, and some that can only do 30. Everyone has different strengths and abilities. And as long as I know that everyone is going as fast as their abilities allow, I’m OK with these differences. But the expectations for each is the same. I expect each person to stock their areas correctly, to stay on task, to be accurate, to keep their areas neat and clean, and to take good care of our customers. No matter their personal abilities, I’ve set clear expectations for our end goal, and those expectations are the same for everyone.
Separate the person from the performance
Even though you can’t be true friends with those that you work with, you will still grow close to some of them. It’s natural. You spend a lot of time together, and as their boss they will often confide in you about their life and issues.
And sometimes someone that you are close to will screw up. And no matter how you feel toward them, you still have to have those hard conversations I mentioned above. It’s hard when you like someone and think a lot of them. Because sometimes the best and most likable people have terrible performance. The opposite is true too. There will be people that you don’t jive with. But you can’t let that cloud your judgment of their performance. A good leader will separate the person from the performance. Every time.
Know what people want – to be appreciated and to feel useful.
From my 15 years in retail management, I’ve learned that people want basically two things from their job. They want to feel useful and they want to feel appreciated. It’s your job as a leader to ensure that they are.
The best way to ensure that someone feels useful, is to help them find their place on your team – their niche. Everyone has different strengths, put your people where those strengths are able to shine!
Appreciation is an easier task, but it’s often overlooked. A simple thank you or good job goes a long way. And noticing when someone picked up a task that you didn’t assign, but they saw that need and filled it. Thank them! I thanked one of associates for always taking care of his area so that I never even had to worry about when he was there. I named all the little things that he did, that no one else would even think of. It’s those little things you’re people are taking care of that makes your job easier. Make sure they know that you recognize that!
Are you a supervisor? What are your tips for being the best boss you can be? What are some of your favorite qualities in a good boss? Let me know in the comments!