I was talking with one of my former employees yesterday and she recalled the time I said that she was doing “drive-by supervision” — managing staff in fleeting moments as if in driving by to check on a business without taking the time to go in and inspect the details.  It works if you have great employees and you want to continue the status quo, but more is needed if you want to impact true professional development or plant the seeds to create significant change.

One thing that is difficult for new supervisors to grasp is how much time it truly takes to supervise staff well.  It is a continual, almost daily process in which information needs to be shared, context given, projects monitored in global terms, new challenges outlined, praise dispensed and questions answered.  And that is when staff is all hired, trained and doing well!

Supervision is also a hard skill to learn before you supervise someone.  If you are mentoring new employees, do what you can to help them understand the process and have some components of the process: conducting the search for new employees, doing evaluations of interns, having 1:1 sessions with you even if they are not direct reports, taking a management class or attending a workshop or whatever you can develop.  

It has been said that people don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses.  Do your part as a leader to train the future bosses so they can attract talent instead of repel it.

— beth triplett

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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