The work of a supervisor is varied: they design a specific job, hire someone to fill the role, train them and then delegate responsibilities to them, and then follow-up on their performance, offering guidance where needed and, sometimes, firing the person if necessary. But there is one basic activity that is necessary for the supervisor to have once the employee is hired: communication. And this is not “one-way” communication, with the supervisor telling the employee what to do and how it’s to be done. Supervisory communication must be “two-way” which entails not only directions coming from the supervisor, but also employees reporting to their supervisor. Only then can they work together to achieve a common cause.
Ironically, when work falters, one of the first activities that ceases is communication. The downward spiral begins, with failure begetting increased non-communication. The following activities should be conducted by the new employer's supervisor:
1. Have all employees provide weekly written status reports to their supervisors.
Include what tasks were done last week, what tasks are planned next week, any pending issues and date the report. These reports may seem a tedious task, but they're precious in ensuring that employee and their supervisor have mutual understanding of what is going on. They also make otherwise harried staff and managers stand back and reflect on what they're doing.
2. Hold monthly meetings with all staff together: Review the overall condition of the organization and review recent successes. Consider conducting "in service" training where employees take turns describing their roles to the rest of the staff. For clarity, focus and morale, be sure to use agendas and ensure follow-up minutes. Consider bringing in a client to tell their story of how the organization helped them. These meetings go a long way toward building a feeling of teamwork among staff.
3. Hold weekly or biweekly meetings with all staff together if the organization is small (e.g., under 10 people); otherwise, with all managers together: Have these meetings even if there is not a specific problem to solve -- just make them shorter. (Holding meetings only when there are problems to solve cultivates a crisis-oriented environment where managers believe their only job is to solve problems.) Use these meetings for each person to briefly give an overview of what they are doing that week. Facilitate the meetings to support exchange of ideas and questions. Again, for clarity, focus and morale, be sure to use agendas, take minutes and ensure follow-up minutes. Have each person bring their calendar to ensure scheduling of future meetings accommodates each person's calendar.
4. Have supervisors meet with their direct reports in one-on-one meetings every month:
This ultimately produces more efficient time management and supervision. Review overall status of work activities, hear how it's going with both the supervisor and the employee, exchange feedback and questions about current programs and services, and discuss career planning, etc. Consider these meetings as interim meetings between the more formal, yearly performance review meetings.
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By: Joe Fairchild