If you are a person who wants to be liked and you are a supervisor or manager of people – then I am sorry – but you should resign right now. I am not stating that a supervisor is not well-liked, I am stating that being liked and pleasing people is completely incongruent with the supervisory role. Make no mistake, supervision is a role and the more professional you make the role, the more successful a supervisor you will be. You may be friends with your staff, but only if you are also capable of having the difficult conversations necessary to enforce performance standards. There are a certain percentage of staff members who “get it” and need very little leadership to accomplish the mission. This percentage is small and you should accept that fact. The majority of your staff will need ongoing conversations, some of which will be uncomfortable and confrontational.
Confrontation is a dicey word, lots of people think that it implies screaming and getting into folk’s personal space. That is not what confrontation is. Confrontation is simply the presentation of facts that may be contrary to your staff member’s belief. For example, we all behave in ways that we believe are right and correct. If we are engaging in very negative behavior, you can bet we have an explanation with lots of justification. If you are a supevisor it is your job to state “you’re negative behavior is not okay, I can listen, but the behavior must change, regardless of the reason for it.” You must be willing to have that conversation if you hope to gain high performance behavior.
Most people are uncomfortable with this type of conversation and that is why there are so many mediocre business units. Staff will do what I call “the drift”. At one time they may have been clear about performance standards, but as the day to day business world unfolds, emotions become challenged, the job is difficult and the perspective changes. Some business units have no idea what a performance standard is, these units will normally die a very slow and painful death, with folks complaining and bewildered to the bitter end.
Performance standards are work ethics and practices which support the goals of the organization. Excellent customer service to support expensive equipment purchases is one such performance standard. Selling a certain number of products each business day is a performance standard. Being an effective supervisor means that you will facilitate your staff member’s accomplishment of the performance standard. Staff training is an important initial component of the facilitation process, but it must be followed with staff development and that means follow through for the supervisor.