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Five Biggest Mistakes Made by Supervisors and Managers

Updated on April 6, 2017

When people make the transition from being a 'worker' to becoming a supervisor, they are often both eager and apprehensive about their new found power. They may have earned their turn to supervise, but may lack the skills necessary to become a good one. When a worker becomes a supervisor, they are essentially making a change into a leadership position. A true leader is a supervisor who inspires others, sets a good example, and practices good work habits. Supervisors and managers become poor leaders when they begin making these mistakes:

1) Supervisor/Subordinate Relationships

Many bosses forget about their role in the workplace. When a supervisor becomes a subordinate's best friend, they put the goals of the company (and their own job) in jeopardy. Becoming too close to your subordinates may serve to influence the decision making process. Often times, the resulting decision is not in the best interest of the company. Being a friend to a subordinate also means that there will be an increased level of stress, anxiety, and disdain in the event that they have to be disciplined, fired, or laid-off. Think about it, would you fire your best friend if you had to? Could you?

Maintaining the balance between being a co-worker's friend and their supervisor can be quite precarious. Being a good supervisor doesn't mean that you can't have lunch with them or converse about this weekend's big game. It simply means that you must establish clear boundaries for the relationships that you do create.

2) Lack of Professionalism

Professionalism includes such things as dressing, acting, talking, and writing appropriately. Bad supervisors tend to be too casual with these items. Having professionalism means that the highest quality and level of care is utilized at all times when conducting themselves. Every detail is paid the attention that it deserves.  Bad supervisors have a propensity to be sloppy and disorderly. When supervisors perform in this manner,  the workers tend to follow that example. This reduces the ability of the team to function and accomplish their duties.

3) Not Following Policies and Procedures

Some supervisors, especially new ones, forget about the policies and procedures of the company. Being higher than others in the chain of command doesn't equate to also being above the rules.  Again, being a good supervisor means leading by example. Policies and procedures are usually put in place by the company to preserve its values and goals while also fostering an environment that is safe, ethical, and legal.

4) Not Asking for Help or Knowing When to Delegate

A good supervisor calls in reinforcements when it is necessary and knows when a project can be handled by their employees. Good supervisors listen to their subordinates and learn about their abilities, skills, weaknesses, interests, and work ethic. Delegation of projects and duties should be made on the basis of those qualities. This will lead to greater results. Employees will also develop respect for their supervisor as they will feel appreciated and challenged. The supervisor also knows when to acquire extra help if there is a possibility that the desired result cannot be met by the current project team. Leading the team to victory is what a good supervisor does.

Tips for Becoming a Better Supervisor

  • Develop your communication skills
  • Develop an open mind
  • Learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others
  • Lead by example
  • Earn you employees' respect

5) Lack of Honesty and Integrity

Bad supervisors have been known to stretch the truth on many occasions. Exaggerated performance appraisals, un-ethical behavior, and playing blame games are all examples of poor character and leadership. Accepting responsibility for unfavorable results that they or their employees have produced also falls into this category. True leaders recognize that they are accountable for the actions and decisions that the team makes. Arrogance and presenting oneself in a presumptuous manner is additionally a sign of a bad supervisor.


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