A fallacy I see too often with new supervisors is that they inherit a staff and think “Whew, I’ll now have less to do because I’ve got these other people to do things.” While others may take certain tasks off the supervisor’s plate, to be effective, it means replacing those tasks with the very intentional duty of supervision.

To be an effective supervisor takes time. Lots of time. It takes time to hold weekly one-to-one meetings with each of your direct reports (but I believe they are oh-so-important to do). It takes time to cultivate relationships and learn the strengths of those on your team, whether they are direct reports or not. It takes time to build and foster a culture that promotes psychological safety and belonging. It takes time to cultivate relationships outside your area of purview that will prove beneficial for your team. It takes time to be visible and aware enough of what is going on so that you are able to provide both meaningful feedback and recognize extra effort.

People are challenged when they forget their job is supervision and fail to allocate time in their load to attend to it thoroughly. Managers get caught up with other meetings, budgets, external demands, planning, etc., and aren’t intentional about the people aspect of their role. I think it’s one of the biggest mistakes they can make.

You are only as strong as your staff. Short-changing supervision on your list of priorities may save you a few hours in the short term but it’s never a good strategy overall. Supervise first and you’ll have created a team that can help you accomplish the rest.

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