Over the past 30 years I have learned many valuable lessons from thousands of supervisors. One of the most profound is that nearly all of the great ones do a few common things on a regular, habitual basis. Different leaders, different styles, same practices.
I like to call them the 8 Great Practices of Supervision. Do them consistently and do them reasonably well and you will experience great results in Safety, Quality, Productivity, Cost, and Morale. More importantly, you will help those you lead thrive and succeed in their job – which is the role of a supervisor anyway.
Here they are:
Team Focus Meetings
Gather your crew together at the beginning of any workday or shift. Set the tone for the day. Create focus. Review team progress. Cover important points for the day. Get input from your team. Provide training. Celebrate success. Do all of that in 15 to 20 minutes. Be consistent. Everyday.
Create a visual display of how well your team is doing at what matters most. Think Safety, Quality, Productivity, Cost, and Morale. Ideally, your team will be able to view the scoreboard from where they work. The scoreboard should be the backdrop for your Team Focus Meetings. The Scoreboard should be Visual, Simple, Current, Accurate, Relevant to the Team, and Owned by the Team.
Make intentional daily contact with each member of your team. Approach them in their work environment. Be observant. Make eye contact. Ask them how they are doing. Catch them doing the right thing and praise them for it. Take mental notes of any coaching opportunities that you can address at a later date. If they work remotely then you will need to improvise (phone call, Skype, text). The principle still applies.
1 on 1 Discussions
Schedule and hold regular 1 on 1 discussions with your direct reports. Thirty minutes in a private and conducive setting, even if it is a walk outside. For the first 10 minutes let them talk about whatever they want to talk about. This is good information for you. For the second 10 minutes reflect together on the progress they are making toward goals. For the third 10 minutes, focus forward on what most needs to happen next to ensure their success. Never cancel a 1 on 1. You may need to adjust the time, but don’t cancel. It is one of the most valuable things you can do as a supervisor.
Take 30 minutes each week to plan your following week. It’s about planning, not scheduling. Think results, not activities. Use these three questions to guide your planning each week:
- What do I most need to accomplish next week?
- How can I best accomplish it?
- How should I best schedule my week to accomplish it?
Send an email to your boss each week in which you account for your stewardship. Just do it – even if your boss doesn’t ask for it or even acknowledge it. Do it anyway because you are not doing it for your boss, your are doing it for you. You will be happy with what it does for you over time. Simply write a brief paragraph on each of these three topics each week:
- What I accomplished this past week.
- What I plan to accomplish this coming week.
- What ideas, concerns, or needs I would like to discuss with you further.
Continually strive to standardize the way that work gets done within your team. Start first with what matters most. Involve your team. Set best practice standards. Document the standards. Train on the standards. Inspect to the standards. Coach to the standards. Continually improve the standards.
Take inventory of the ability level of each team member on each of the critical skills or key tasks within your work area. Provide a rating of each skill or task for each team member:
- 1 = Not yet trained.
- 2 = Trained and implementing.
- 3 = Able to perform without direction.
- 4 = Mastered and can teach others.
Keep a chart or matrix and use it to continually raise the “bench strength” of your team.
We would love to help you master each of these 8 Great Practices. We have tools and templates. We provide many different workshops for supervisors at every level of development and skill. Click here to see our upcoming courses.
Best of success in your role as supervisor and leader.