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The most important thing is to form good working relationships. Supervisors can learn many different skills and tactics, but few will be effective without positive relationships. Understand the concept of "essential attitudes" for a supervisor. Essential attitudes for success exist in every profession, whether you are a teacher, scientist, minister, pilot, or supervisor. Here's one: assume your employees are doing the best job they can from their point of view. This attitude will affect the way you speak, act, nurture, and support them. It might even help you remember to use PAS more often as a resource to improve performance. Another: spell out for employees what they need to do in order to succeed and then give them the ability to do it. Imagine how these essential attitudes influence a positive relationship, and how lacking they are with many managers.

Studies indicate that 50% of employees have quit a job because of a bad boss. One study reported that 75% consider their boss a major source of stress, but most have no plans to quit. The health issue is stress. Here's a list of common complaints from a Harris Poll in order of severity:

  1. not recognizing employee achievements;
  2. not giving clear directions;
  3. not having time to meet with employees;
  4. refusing to talk with subordinates,
  5. taking credit for others' ideas;
  6. not offering constructive criticism;
  7. not knowing an employee's name;
  8. refusing to talk with people on the phone or in person; and
  9. not asking about employees' lives outside of work.

Nearly all of these complaints fall in the realm of communication, and some you may find surprising. For example, employees want you to know more about them personally. Do any apply to you? PAS can help you become a better supervisor on any of these issues.

Giving feedback to employees is not about delivering the good with the bad and hoping for the best. Your attitude and approach are critical. Do you show annoyance over the shortcomings of your employee's work, or do you deliver feedback with judgment-free specificity? The latter approach works better because valuable employees are hard enough on themselves. More importantly, give feedback with the intention of motivating employees. If an employee is not energized following a feedback interview, you have taken a step backward in that relationship. Whenever possible, use feedback meetings to teach new skills. Develop good working relationships with your employees and discuss how you will give feedback to them. Let them know that the purpose of feedback is to help them excel, not to find fault or shake their confidence. Use these guidelines the next time you give feedback. You will enjoy giving feedback more often, and you'll do it more effectively.

In the past, the same argument was used to minimize the impact of sexual harassment in the workplace. Today, sexual harassment is illegal. Research has now documented its true cost. Bullying in the workplace is rapidly receiving the same level of recognition, also supported by research. See this citation on abusive supervision. Do you ridicule employees? Have you put employees down in front of others? Have you accused them of incompetence, kept them away from “the good assignments,” not given them credit for their work, yelled at them, or invaded their privacy by asking probing personal questions? Many of these behaviors were once considered natural elements of the traditional workplace, but not today. Talk to PAS about making changes. Most employees who complain to supervisors about bullying say they do not see substantive changes from their tormentors. This implies that changing these behaviors can be tough. Still, you could remain at risk for employment or legal claims if your tactics don’t shift.

The term "constructive confrontation" has many definitions and applications in human interaction, but in the work setting it typically refers to a purposeful and planned meeting with an employee experiencing performance or conduct issues to motivate the worker to make improvements or desired changes. Although a constructive confrontation may utilize mention of disciplinary action, this is not a required element. Most employees perceive the supervisor to be a legitimate authority figure who has control or influence over the disciplinary processes. This is a dynamic of authority, and it is not overlooked by employees when confronted by supervisors. This dynamic is also helpful to instill motivation. Supervisors who socialize frequently with subordinates or are viewed by them as a friend may experience more difficulty in succeeding with constructive confrontations. This is because the dynamic of authority has eroded. Reasserting this authority can be tough because it requires choices that stress the friendship.

Technology can turn a job into a 24/7 experience, so a lack of work-life balance can be a challenge. This strain contributes to lower productivity and burnout. It's up to employees to "hit the off switch," but some are better at doing it than others. This makes awareness and education about work-life balance a worthy pursuit. Practice establishing traditions that facilitate work-life balance. One tradition might be having everyone agree to not respond to emails and work-related texts after business hours, except in specific circumstances. (This could influence employees to get more done during regular business hours.) Brainstorm other work-life balance ideas. Celebrate and reward participation in these practices. A Web search of “ways to achieve work-life balance” will lead you to many ideas. Consider input from your human resources advisor, too. Suggest PAS to employees who demonstrate struggles with work-life balance. Note that motivating employees to practice work-life balance won't be effective unless you are doing it yourself.