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10 Things Supervisors Should Do Every Day
Feb 15, 2021 - AEU LEAD

Have you been promoted or hired because of your excellent work ethic, your individual contributions as an employee, or maybe because of your process certifications, and yet find yourself struggling as a supervisor?  You are not alone. Successful supervisors today must be able to manage processes and lead people.

More than 60% of supervisors say they have never received any sort of training for their roles involving people. Where training is provided, it primarily involves skills needed to manage systems and processes. The concepts are simple and yet, perhaps in the name of revenues or the bottom line, we often lose sight of the simple things — things that not only make us human but can help us become more successful. Sound easy? It is.

Here are 10 things successful supervisors should do every day.

1. Listen

  • Listen to understand
  • Listen to recognize issues and act on them
  • Listen for input
  • Be open to new ideas

Have you ever been in a conversation and answered the question before it was finished being asked? Most people listen to respond when they should be listening to understand. Successful supervisors listen to not only what their employees want and need, but also the challenges their managers face. They not only listen to and recognize issues, but also act to address those issues when appropriate. In some cases, employees are just looking for affirmation. Successful supervisors also listen to colleagues and are open to new ideas. Listening to understand is the foundation of any good relationship.


2. Get to know your people

  • Learn something new
  • Discuss something known
  • Remember names, pronounce them correctly
  • Show care and concern for employees' families
  • Show empathy and compassion

Getting to know your employees and colleagues is crucial to becoming a successful supervisor. Rapport is about how well you know them and how well they know you. Let’s not get confused; building rapport is not a means of interrogation. However, if you are actively listening, you will pick up nuggets of information that you can use as connection points and topics for conversation, whether it is on a personal or professional level. We all have something in common or have shared similar experiences. Having conversations on information learned shows you listen, you’re compassionate, you care, and you are empathic.  


3. Be authentic

  • Be who you say you are
  • Be transparent
  • Vulnerability and humility are traits of a good leader
  • Don’t be afraid to merge your professional and personal lives

Supervisors who are who they say they are have integrity beyond comparison. Vulnerability and humility are traits of successful supervisors and create a positive, attractive energy in a work environment. Employees and colleagues all want to help an authentic person succeed and will support the culture you desire. There used to be a divide between one’s public self and private self, but social media and Internet have blurred that line. Whether online or in person, tomorrow’s supervisors are transparent about who they are, merging their personal and professional lives together.


4. Be transparent

  • Be open and honest
  • Transparency allows you to sleep at night
  • Secrets will be exposed

Supervisors who attempt to keep secrets will eventually be exposed. Openness and honesty lead to happier employees and colleagues. More importantly, transparency makes it a lot easier to sleep at night — not worried about what you said to whom. A happier supervisor is a more productive one.


5. Be a team player

  • Interact with input from all levels
  • Let others shine
  • Seek input for ongoing challenges from all levels
  • Collaborate
  • Practice humility
  • Practice participant thinking

Regardless of the size of your organization, you interact with others every day. Letting others shine, encouraging innovative ideas, and practicing humility will help you become a more successful supervisor. You’ll need a culture of success within your organization, one that includes what we call “participant” thinking, which involves input from all levels of the organization. Remember, two heads are better than one.


6. Be responsive

  • Do what you say
  • Follow up
  • Close the loop
  • Communicate changes
  • Address issues that need your attention
  • Be responsive to employees and colleagues

The best leaders are responsive to their colleagues and employees. Every employee today is a potential viral sparkplug, for better or for worse, and a leader recognizes this and insists upon a culture of responsiveness. Whether the communication is email, voicemail, a note or a text, responding shows you care and gives your employees and colleagues a say, allowing them to make a positive impact on the outcome.


7. Lead by example

  • Be flexible and willing to change
  • Model behaviors you expect from your employees
  • Forget the “do as I say, not as I do" mentality
  • Grow yourself
  • Find ways to improve on your weaknesses

When you lead by example, you make it easy for others to follow. Forget the old mentality of “do as I say, not as I do.”  When doing so, your credibility is shot, and respect is lost in an instant. When you are willing to acknowledge your bad habits and weaknesses and find ways to improve, people recognize that and are willing to follow suit. You paint a picture that “if they can do it, so can I.” 


8. Surprise and delight

  • Under-promise and over-deliver
  • Acknowledge people and smile
  • Be positive, stay positive

Most people like surprises in their day-to-day lives. Successful supervisors under-promise and over-deliver, assuring that colleagues and employees are surprised in a positive way. There are numerous ways to surprise without spending extra money — such as a smile. We all like to be greeted with a smile; it can set the tone for the day. Too often we focus on the negative; start focusing on the positive. A culture of positivity is contagious and breeds positive results.


9. Encourage and coach others

  • Take complex projects, challenges, and ideas and break them into bite-sized pieces
  • Transfer your knowledge
  • Connect new hires with mentors
  • Clearly communicate expectations

The world is more complex than ever, but employees respond best to simplicity. Take complex projects, challenges and ideas and break them down to their simplest components, allowing employees to better understand and buy into your vision. Stop telling employees the what, the when, and the how. Tell them what needs to be done, when it needs to be done by, and ask them for the how. This gives you the opportunity to understand what employees know and what they don’t. It provides the opportunity for team playing, collaboration, and coaching. With new generations entering the workforce, collaboration is one of the keys to your success. 


10. Show gratitude

  • Say thank you
  • Genuinely appreciate employees
  • Be in the moment

Successful supervisors are grateful for the people who contribute to their opportunities and success. Being appreciative and saying “thank you” to mentors, colleagues, and employees is always well-received and keeps you humble. It also makes you feel great and opens your eyes to the positive behaviors that can be reinforced! The key to this is being in the moment. The longer you wait to say thank you or to show appreciation, the less impact it will have on the recipient. When you see it or feel it, stop what you are doing and acknowledge it then.  


Ready to take the next step as a successful supervisor? 

Change is never easy but focusing on these 10 things supervisors should do every day can help you succeed as a supervisor. The key is consistency. Make a conscious effort to do these every day and you will see results.

At AEU LEAD, we help individuals gain clarity on improvement opportunities in their job performance. For additional information or to better understand how we can help, please contact us.

The opinions and comments expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the opinion of ALMA, The American Equity Underwriters, Inc., AEU LEAD or Amwins. None of the aforementioned parties or the authors are responsible for any inaccuracy of content or for any loss or damages incurred by any party as a result of reliance on information contained in this article. Content may not be published or reproduced without the written consent of the authors. Prior articles may not be updated for accuracy as pertinent information changes over time. The AEU LEAD blog is intended to provide general information and should not be construed as legal advice.
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