I heard a nugget today that sounds simple but sums up much of what it takes to be an effective supervisor:  “Water your flowers and pull your weeds.”

New supervisors often struggle with one side of the equation. They either spend all of their time on their problem employees and assume their stars will succeed on their own, or they encourage their high-performing staff members and hope the low-performers will come around. Neither is a good solution.

To create a desirable culture and empower your staff, you need to nurture those who show promise and deal with those who don’t – either by coaching them to meet your standards or by letting them go. It’s never easy to fire someone, but if all other avenues have been exhausted, it’s the necessary action for the good of the team. The more you allow them to linger, the more they will choke off the energy of those who would otherwise flower.

Treat your role as a supervisor like that of a dedicated gardener. You’re responsible for tending to everything that grows in your plot.



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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