A supervisor who has strong people skills or “soft skills” can be the difference between an underperforming team and one that is productive and motivated. People skills are much harder to define than technical skills. Examples of people skills are communication, positivity, and trust. It's important to note that flexibility is woven throughout all of these skills. Supervisors need to be flexible and able to adapt to any given situation.
As a manager, if you can demonstrate your trust to your team, they will become less dependent on you and look for advice only when needed. When an employee feels that they are trusted, they can take ownership of their work. By having a team that trusts you, your team can run more efficiently. Trust is important in any environment, and the supervisor/employee relationship is no different.
Good communication skills encompass a variety of components such as being personable, persuasive, and transparent as well as being a good listener. Being transparent might be the single most important component because as a supervisor your time is limited. If your team understands what you are communicating, there will be no confusion or interruption in work. Effective communication skills are vital to becoming a great manager. Communication can be the difference between trust and unreliability.
Being able to have concern for others' misfortunes will allow you to relate to your team. Understanding that when someone is going through a difficult time, it's essential that you show them compassion. If the tables were turned, you would likely want someone to show you compassion as well. As a good manager, part of your job is to help make their work-life simpler for the time being to reduce stress and to help ensure productivity.
Have you worked with someone who had the mentality of "my way or the highway"? Open-mindedness is the ability to actively search against one's beliefs, goals, and plans as well as to weigh all ideas as fairly and as objectively as possible. As a supervisor, you may not have all the answers or even the best answer for a given situation, but by keeping an open mind to others’ opinions you will build trust and respect among your team.
As a supervisor, your team members will come to you with a variety of problems and questions, and you will need to provide them with guidance. You will need to be welcoming and approachable to your team. Regardless of what you were doing when approached, remain positive and approachable. If you are not able to be interrupted, ensure the employee that you want to hear what they have to say, even if it means setting a time/date to do so later. Being approachable is a skill that builds goodwill and positivity with your team.
Accountability means not only taking responsibility for your work but also for the work of your team. You are the model that your team sees daily. If you only take accountability when things are going well, your team will take notice. Being accountable means not passing the buck when things go wrong. Always strive to be a good role model and take accountability for your actions.
Simply put positivity is reflected in everything your team does. If you want your employees to stay positive, you need to role model that same behavior. Learn to focus on the positive instead of the negative and eliminate complaining. Instead of worrying about the problem, try to be positive about finding a new solution. By shifting your perspective to the positive, you might be able to uncover new opportunities or solutions.
Our mission at AEU LEAD is to enable transformation. For those wanting to transform through the development of soft skills supervisors and managers, we’re here to help. To learn more about our supervisor training and leadership development courses, please explore our services or contact us.