July 23rd, 2008 | 1:00 pm

Six Steps to Becoming a Good Supervisor

filed under Expert Answers

Contributed by Ruth Haag of Haag Ennvironmental Company

Typically, no one is trained to be a supervisor. We all have to learn how to manage people on the fly after we are promoted into a management position. When learning to be a good supervisor, it is helpful to keep in mind the things that past supervisors have done that you liked and those that you have not liked so you can use those experiences to guide your decisions as a supervisor. Here are six steps to follow to make sure that you become a leader that others are happy to follow:

(1) Tame yourself – You have to begin by understanding your personality and taming it. If you are too quiet, you will need to work on becoming more outgoing and decisive. If you are too decisive, to the point where you scare people, you will need to work on toning yourself down. You want to become a thoughtful, considerate leader who knows where you are going and is able to communicate that properly to the team.

(2) Have a goal – If you don’t know where you are going, you will never arrive, and no one will be able to follow you. Your goal can be as simple as “providing every customer with the best service” or “no injuries, no deaths on the job” or “make a profit.”

(3) Have a “clear, simple message” – You must be able to convey your goal in a sound bite. People can understand and retain clear, simple messages. You have to be able to repeat the message at meetings, in newsletters and in general conversations. If your people know the message, they will be able to follow.

(4) Look and act like a leader – People have a much easier time following someone who looks as they should. Your clothes should be clean and pressed. Your shoes should be polished. You should walk with confidence.

(5) Be trustworthy – People won’t follow you if they don’t trust you. You must be ethical and honest at all times. People trust people who are clear about what they are doing. People don’t trust people who say one thing at a meeting, and then say or do something different outside of the meeting.

(6) Care about your people – You can’t supervise people if you don’t like them. You shouldn’t become best friends with your staff, but you should know them and know what their problems are. Because you care, you should attend their weddings, and the funerals of their close family members. Because you are their leader, you should not attend more personal functions, such as their birthday parties. You need to keep yourself concerned with your staff, but not intimately involved with them. If you are really not a “people person,” consider another, non-managerial position in your organization.

Ruth Haag (www.ManageLiving.com) is the President and CEO of Haag Environmental Company, a hazardous waste consulting firm. Ruth is also a business management consultant. She trains supervisors to identify their shortcomings and tame them, while creating management systems that focus on their employees rather than themselves. She is also the author of several books, including a four-book series on supervisory management which includes Taming Your Inner Supervisor, Day to Day Supervising, Hiring and Firing and Why Projects Fail. She and her partner, Bob Haag, host the weekly radio show Manage Living, which can be heard on-demand on her site.

10 comments

  1. Latest Good Reads | Tax & Accounting Blogs

    [...] Six steps to becoming a good supervisor. [...]

  2. noluthando

    i would like to know what to do if people act strange towards you already for the first time being a supervisor and especially since recruited not long time ago then i got this position of being a supervisor?

  3. ella flores

    what will you do if one of your employee do not follow or trust you because you’re just like him before you became supervisor?

  4. New Supervisor

    Ella I feel the same as you

  5. jr nasir

    I’m as a talkative person now i just promote to supervisor, before i intimately involved with other staff and talk a lots with them so now what should i do to be a good supervisor also keep a good relationship between other staff?

  6. Susan Ellis

    Iam a house supervisor in a nursing home evening shift,My starting with my nurses and cnas don”t respect me.I have tried to get to know them aqnd I like them all but they disrespefct me and are outrightr mean to me.I need help in learning how to take control and gain respect.

  7. Susan

    I have been with this company for 20+ years, I recently was promoted to a supervisor, I now have to supervise the same people I have worked with. They now see me different, how can I get their respect? They complained about me talking down to them.

  8. mohamed irshad

    i am pass 2 years as a IT suppervisor in retail store i wan to be good sup…

    but i am littl bit shot temp please advice me

  9. KHAN

    impressive

  10. fernando

    To be a good supervisor u need to convince the people, even if they are right u gotta find a way to wrap them around your finger and make them see tings your way,u gotta make sure that by the time u had a good talk with some one they end up saying (o ur right) its code that me and my suervisor team have, we have to have a good reason for all the actions that we take. Make them feel good like say thanks after the shift is over or say good job, that’s to keep people motevated… I always look at my workers and say to my self, man I’m lucky to have a good team that gots my back because in reality they are the ones who make this happen ur just the one responsible for there mistakes.