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Ten Useful Rules for Supervisor/Subordinate Relations

Updated on March 14, 2010


Ten Useful Rules for Supervisor/Subordinate Relations

Making better use of your time is only part of the equation for being an effective supervisor. Of even greater importance is your ability to manage your subordinates. Otherwise, you'll just end up spending your time resolving one employee problem after another. Even worse, it will be a constant struggle to maintain satisfactory levels of productivity within the group you supervise. It's useful to first consider some broad rules for sound working relations with employees, since people problems can become the biggest time trap of all for a supervisor. The following guidelines will help in this regard.

1.         Learn the individual strengths and weaknesses of people you supervise. This will aid you in assigning tasks on the basis of skills rather than at random.

2.         However, work on developing the abilities of every em­ployee, rather than continually making assignments based only on past performance. This will allow you to maintain a fair distribution of the workload, rather than having to go to your best workers with every difficult job.

3.         Treat everyone equally. Some people are by nature more likeable than others, but as a supervisor you have to avoid even the • slightest hint of favoritism.

4.         Be flexible in dealing with employee concerns. Going strictly by set procedures won't always give you the flexibility you need to resolve individual problems. So when necessary, bending the rules a little may bring a big return in terms of work loyalty and productivity.

5.         Show concern for employees. Try to look at problems from the perspective of the employee. It will help you deal with difficulties from an angle that will resolve problems permanently, rather than just postponing them.

6.         Criticize with care. Try to be positive and impersonal when

you criticize any aspect of an employee's performance. If you're not negative, you're less likely to receive a hostile response to construc­tive criticism.

7.  Give simple, but specific, job directions anytime you assign a new task to a worker. And don't overlook the need to provide any necessary resources and training needed for the employee to do the job.

8.  Show a continuing interest in your subordinates by provid­ing feedback on their performance regularly, not just at performance evaluation time. Be honest and level with workers about how they're doing, whether it's good or bad. This means giving praise when it's deserved, and not giving it when it isn't.

9.  Defend your subordinates against unfair criticism. Don't let other departments make your people the scapegoat for mistakes made elsewhere.

10.   Be a coach—not a general. You're at work, not at war, so be loyal to your subordinates as well as the company. Include workers in the decision-making process whenever it's feasible to do so. You can also show leadership by working to obtain promotions, pay raises, and awards for deserving employees. In addition, don't minimize employee complaints. Some things that appear trivial on the surface may have major significance for employees.


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