Good leaders and supervisors aren't born, they are made.
They learn how to be good leaders through training, experience, intuition, and effort.
Like people at any level, supervisors also make mistakes and falter from time to time. Some of these mistakes are unavoidable and part of the learning process, while others can be prevented with a little bit of foresight and knowledge.
Here's a list of common supervisory mistakes you can avoid if you're vigilant and careful:
1. Not being a leader
It's natural that team members will look to you for leadership and guidance.
They'll ask you for assistance on problems, and examples could include sales team members wanting support when dealing with difficult clients, or expect the team leader to set goals and targets.
If you don't provide your team with the support they need, they'll falter and be less productive.
As a supervisor you need to take charge, make decisions, and accept responsibility over your team. A supervisor is also the bridge between the upper management and the team members, so a part of their leadership responsibilities is to represent the team and their interests to the executives.
2. Poor communication
A team can only function smoothly if there's proper communication between everyone involved.
The supervisor should always keep the communication lines open and clear. They should convey their expectations and requirements to the team members clearly, inform them of all the changes they can expect, and discuss goals and ideas regularly.
Open communication will help the team work as a cohesive unit, and ensure they're more productive.
If you don't communicate well, and don't establish a rapport with the team, you'll see a drop in the performance and an increase in problems and mistakes.
As a supervisor, you set the standards for communication, so you need to make sure you handle communications well.
3. Ignoring problems
Ignoring problems won't make them disappear, so it's important to address them timeously.
Some supervisors ignore problems that don't directly impact something specific, and hope the issue will resolve itself.
But that can be a mistake!
For example, if there's a conflict between two members of your team, you shouldn't wait until they resolve it or until it escalates. If you address it immediately, your team will work smoothly once again and you won't have to deal with conflicts impacting their productivity.
Problems shouldn't be ignored or deferred unless you have no other choice but to wait for a resolution.
Modern workspace environments are far different compared to older workspaces. Employees and team members expect the supervisors to communicate with them and offer support.
They also expect the supervisors to teach them and show them how to get the job done. Team members use feedback from the supervisors to improve their skills and abilities, so you need to share your opinions and observations with them.
Sharing feedback will help them and improve the overall productivity of the team as well. Active feedback from supervisors is a form of on-going training and keeps the team members on their toes.
Without the feedback, they won't improve because they won't know they need to improve.
5. Not welcoming feedback
Modern supervisors work with their team, instead of just issuing orders and expecting everyone to fall in line.
If you want higher levels of productivity, more innovative solutions to problems, and better cooperation between you and your team, you need to welcome feedback.
Many supervisors mistakenly dismiss ideas and suggestions offered by the team, and only rely on their own judgement. This can cause a disconnect between the team and the supervisor, and compromise productivity in the long run.
6. Reprimanding in public
People make mistakes, and sometimes these mistakes need to be addressed and rectified immediately.
However, a public dressing down doesn't help anyone, and only compromises the morale of the team.
If someone on your team has made a mistake, you need to call them to your office and discuss the issue in private, instead of reprimanding them in public. Understand their concerns and try to find the root cause of the problems in order to help your team members, instead of just scolding them.
Actively helping them will improve teamwork and productivity. It will also help you build a relationship of trust with each employee.
7. Maintaining distance from the team
A leader can be engaging, friendly, and compassionate, without compromising their authority.
You don't have to be the "boss" to be the supervisor and distance yourself from the team.
That will only make your employees hesitant to approach you for assistance if needed. Instead of maintaining your distance in an effort to maintain authority, work with your team and establish a healthy rapport with them. That will help improve productivity, loyalty to the company, and ensure the team members are comfortable with you.
8. Rigid method of supervision
Different teams and team members require different supervision techniques and strategies, which is why supervisors need to be flexible and adjust their approach to different situations accordingly.
If you do everything by the book and follow a rigid set of rules, you won't be able to manage your team well.
You need to supervise people according to their status and level of experience. For example, a younger and newer employee will make more mistakes and you need to approach these mistakes carefully to ensure they learn from it. However, you may choose to follow a stricter standard with experienced team members and address their mistakes differently.
These are just some of the mistakes you may make on your journey to become a competent supervisor.
Making mistakes can be disheartening, but that doesn't mean you can't learn and improve. Being a supervisor is a difficult job but everyone can learn how to be good at it.
You can invest some time into training, and/or learn while you're on the job. As long as you learn from your mistakes, and always be open to suggestions, you shouldn't face a problem twice.
Eventually, you'll know how to recognise mistakes and fix them promptly or avoid them completely.
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