The Importance of Supervision

 

Your most valuable assets are your time and attention. No matter how clever you are, no matter how well educated, there is no way to add hours to the day. Most of us understand this, and I talk about it in The Power of Scheduling What is Important. The tricky part is figuring out just what is important. To your direct reports, your time and attention are a valuable resource. If you are a good leader, these are gold to them. Their success can depend on you.

I have always made a practice of scheduled supervision with all my direct reports for an hour every week. These sessions are our formal times. As things come up during the week, we can easily have calls or take a moment to talk. However, knowing we have a scheduled time, I find both sides save things for that conversation.

While I am very much an “open door” leader, in a supervision session, the door is shut. That is my direct reports’ time, and only a true emergency is a reason to disrupt it. It is a blessing to have a good Executive Assistant to screen out anything but a true emergency. Most of the time, however, we must teach our direct reports when it is okay to interrupt or not.

The advantage of a regular schedule is that you are both committed to keep that appointment. If it is all “ad hoc” then it is easy to suddenly go a month without meeting. “We will discuss that in supervision” becomes something positive. I found the need for direct reports to interrupt my day decreased. They would hold anything but the urgent items for our scheduled time. Conversely, if they did need to bring me something immediately, I was all ears, because I would know that this was a situation that could not wait.

There are months when this supervision may not happen, due to other things in either person’s schedule taking priority. In those cases, you may or may not reschedule, based on each other’s needs. “

I have coached several leaders in this format over the years and when they have implemented it, they have seen its power. That does not mean it has not been met with resistance. The number one response is “I don’t have time”. My advice has always been the same, “Make time. Your job is to be a leader. This is the core of your job”.

If you do not provide the attention to your direct reports that they need to be successful, you may find it will take more time and attention down the road to correct a problem you could have avoided.

Spend your most valuable resources wisely and you will see the benefits.

Bryan G. Stephens is a former executive on a mission to transform the workplace. He is the founder and CEO of TalkForward, a consulting and training company, utilizing Bryan’s clinical and management expertise to develop managers and teams in a corporate environment. As a licensed therapist with a strong understanding of developing human potential, he is dedicated to the development of Human Capital to meet the needs of leaders, managers, and employees in the 21st Century workplace.  Bryan has an Executive MBA from Kennesaw State University, Coles School of Business, and both a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

Originally posted at TalkForward.

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  1. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Bryan, I read the title of your post and assumed — until I read the piece itself — that it had to do with the recent dramatic increase in the number of people working from home. The things you wrote sound sensible to me. I’ve been my own boss for most of my working life, but I do remember how much more difficult it was to feel connected on those rare occasions, long ago, when I was a remote employee of a larger organization. Do you have any thoughts about the impact of remote working on the ability of managers to create structured time with the people who report to them?

    • #1
  2. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Bryan, I read the title of your post and assumed — until I read the piece itself — that it had to do with the recent dramatic increase in the number of people working from home. The things you wrote sound sensible to me. I’ve been my own boss for most of my working life, but I do remember how much more difficult it was to feel connected on those rare occasions, long ago, when I was a remote employee of a larger organization. Do you have any thoughts about the impact of remote working on the ability of managers to create structured time with the people who report to them?

    I think the scheduled time is even more important with remote working. Setting a time to meet, even over a telepresence is critical. When my boss is remote, I am more on my own and less able to get any ad hoc help. 

    • #2
  3. WI Con Member
    WI Con
    @WICon

    I typically enjoy and appreciate the time spent with my superior on our bi-monthly calls. There’s a good level of candor from both sides. It is very important to have those standing meeting times though – you’re absolutely correct, they’ll get pushed off if not kept.

    That candor does not extend however to initiatives and meetings I’ve been included on with the ‘higher ups’ or on large companywide meetings. It’s a real blind spot (and I’m sure I have different blind spots, not being privy to same information & responsibilities) but I think it’s indicative of a disfunctional organization. I like discussion. It doesn’t even have to devolve into disagreement but any initiative requires time & resources are prioritized over others – I really dislike meetings when that discussion doesn’t even happen. 

    I didn’t study “management” formally. It’s an art. These types of management issues are very interesting though. They were challenging enough before the ‘work at home’ initiatives gained traction. It will be compounded now. 

    • #3
  4. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Management and leadership are no longer trained. People are promoted and not given what they need, nor may they be the right person for the job. 

    I talk some about this in Who Would You Like Performing Your Heart Surgery

    I wonder if your boss has what you have with his boss. I bet not. Glad you get it. 

    • #4
  5. WI Con Member
    WI Con
    @WICon

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Management and leadership are no longer trained. People are promoted and not given what they need, nor may they be the right person for the job.

    I talk some about this in Who Would You Like Performing Your Heart Surgery

    I wonder if your boss has what you have with his boss. I bet not. Glad you get it.

    Liked that “Paying in Place” idea very much. I’ve worked long enough and for enough employers to recognize that method isn’t initiated nearly at all. It’s embarassing but I’ve been given management responsibilities because I have a college degree. Didn’t have any idea what in the world I was doing initially. I’m better skilled now but still wouldn’t consider myself any guru. I’m certain there are front line folks that would be better but not given chance by that same ‘system’.

    • #5
  6. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    WI Con (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Management and leadership are no longer trained. People are promoted and not given what they need, nor may they be the right person for the job.

    I talk some about this in Who Would You Like Performing Your Heart Surgery

    I wonder if your boss has what you have with his boss. I bet not. Glad you get it.

    Liked that “Paying in Place” idea very much. I’ve worked long enough and for enough employers to recognize that method isn’t initiated nearly at all. It’s embarassing but I’ve been given management responsibilities because I have a college degree. Didn’t have any idea what in the world I was doing initially. I’m better skilled now but still wouldn’t consider myself any guru. I’m certain there are front line folks that would be better but not given chance by that same ‘system’.

    Indeed. It is so sad. 

    • #6
  7. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    I had a vice president who only wanted to meet when needed.  She would call me into her office 3 or 4 times a year, with a couple hours notice, to discuss “issues.”  This would usually be in response to comments from outside her division. 

    After 3 years she decided not to renew my contract. I was not productive enough, she said. 

    Turns out that within 6 months she had to hire 3 employees to do the work I was doing. My mole in the organization says each one got paid more than I did.  

    • #7
  8. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Bryan G. Stephens: Most of us understand this, and I talk about it in The Power of Scheduling What is Important. The tricky part is figuring out just what is important.

    Good blog post.  Have you made a YouTube video using that post as a script?  It would be a good video.

    • #8
  9. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens: Most of us understand this, and I talk about it in The Power of Scheduling What is Important. The tricky part is figuring out just what is important.

    Good blog post. Have you made a YouTube video using that post as a script? It would be a good video.

    No, I have done my youtube videos as the Thoughts on Therapy Conversations. I had not though about reading an article into a camera. I guess I could. I have to think about it. 

    I am glad you like it. 

    • #9
  10. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Management and leadership are no longer trained. People are promoted and not given what they need, nor may they be the right person for the job.

    I talk some about this in Who Would You Like Performing Your Heart Surgery

    I wonder if your boss has what you have with his boss. I bet not. Glad you get it.

    You see this a lot in the corporate world. You take someone away from what they are good at and move them to management without any real training as to what it takes to be a good manager. Some folks are naturals, but most are not. 

    • #10
  11. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and
    @Misthiocracy

    HEAR HEAR!!!

    • #11
  12. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Management and leadership are no longer trained. People are promoted and not given what they need, nor may they be the right person for the job.

    I talk some about this in Who Would You Like Performing Your Heart Surgery

    I wonder if your boss has what you have with his boss. I bet not. Glad you get it.

    You see this a lot in the corporate world. You take someone away from what they are good at and move them to management without any real training as to what it takes to be a good manager. Some folks are naturals, but most are not.

    Gallup thinks that 1 in 10 are naturals, and about 1 in 9 more can be trained. 

    Less than 20% of people can be managers or leaders. 

    • #12