Tag Archives: supervisory

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solving problems

Solving Problems That You Shouldn’t Have

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It seems pretty common for people to complain about problems. One reason is that the easiest problems, those that require few resources and small efforts, are often solved first. Have you ever felt like you are solving problems that you shouldn’t have?

In most workplaces the higher your pay grade the more responsibility you have. With more responsibility come more problems. Many supervisors and managers dislike problems. They might feel like problems are something that they shouldn’t have.

The reality is that they are solving the problems that remain. The problems that are tough, require extra resources, and take a while.

Solving the biggest problems often requires making changes and taking bigger risks. They also require courage and persistence. If they weren’t challenging, they would already be solved.

Solving Problems

While there are many technical issues behind solving large scale problems here are some reminders of the basics:

  • Get data. Gather input and discover as much background as possible. Don’t procrastinate and be cautious of anchoring to the information available.
  • Discover root cause. You must always get to the root cause. Yes you can use cause and effect diagrams, fishbone diagrams, or even just the five why’s technique. Get to the root.
  • Make choices. Procrastination about taking action is often problematic. Avoid analysis paralysis. Data and discovery are important, but refuse to allow this quest to avoid taking action.
  • Be patient. Jumping in and getting started is important, but the big problems wouldn’t be around if they were easily solved. Effective change or resolution might take a little time.

Why You?

Consider that problems are your problem and that solving them might not be easy.

Step up, be brave, understand the root cause and make some moves.

What you try might not always work. It’s probably a tough one to solve.

That’s why it came to you.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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When Your Boss is the Problem

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You’ve probably already heard a version of this, but there is a popular phrase that has been around for years. It goes something like this, “People don’t quit companies, they quit their boss.”

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I’m not sure who deserves credit for those words but many times this is an absolute truth. What you’re about to read isn’t going to take a shot at your boss or support destructive behaviors to teach your boss a lesson. There is already too much of that in our workplaces and society.

What is most important is how you will navigate challenges related to working with your boss, and do it with poise, confidence, and (hopefully) with mutual respect.

The best boss on the planet isn’t necessarily the quietest, the loudest, the sharpest, the funniest, or the most serious. A relationship that you share with your boss really depends on both of you.

If you’re reading this you probably have self-identified that there are some challenges in your relationship with your boss, so let’s look at a few common possibilities to improve your interactions.

  1. Mutual Respect. Chances are probably good that you feel you could benefit from receiving a little more respect from your boss. Giving first in order to receive is always a popular resolution gesture. While it may seem challenging at times, try to consider ways that you can show more respect to your boss, perhaps it will then come back to you. In fact, the root of your disconnect might originate with either or both of you feeling a lack of respect.
  2. Trust. Both trust and respect are critical. Do you trust your boss, or vice versa? Be forthcoming with trust. Does your boss trust you with assignments or do you feel micromanaged? Trust must often be built, if you feel somewhat micromanaged consider how you can increase your bosses comfort level (tips) with your work. If trust concerns are rooted in confidentiality then consider what has weakened this, often it is connected to behaviors or misunderstandings like gossip or body language.
  3. Listening. You might feel like your boss doesn’t listen to your contributions. You most likely won’t change the behavior of your boss so you’ll need to think about how you can adapt. Have you considered your approach? Do you email, do you make your approach in the hallway, or schedule a meeting? Change or adapt your approach to get more focus and undivided attention during your discussions.
  4. Rejection. Have you felt rejected? Most feelings of rejection associated with your job are likely more of a refusal rather than a rejection. Your boss might refuse your idea or refuse to accept some of your work but that doesn’t mean it is rejected. Any time you feel rejected consider viewing it as a right of refusal, do some re-work and try again.
  5. Mind-set. You might have a past with your boss that has led your relationship to this place. Keep in mind that your approach to all of your interactions will have a lot to do with your confidence. The more confident you are the more compelling your message will be. Consider how you might flex your style to adapt because your boss isn’t likely to change to fit your needs.

Relationships are often hard work. In other cases they might feel natural and free flowing, so much so that you can become invisible with your boss or co-workers. If you feel some discomfort in your relationship with your boss chances are good that feeling is mutual.

So the positive part of this situation is that you are likely on the radar scope, you are noticed.

Make the best use of your visibility.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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end micromanagement

3 Tips To End Micromanagement

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Your boss doesn’t trust you. Now there is a shocking revelation. Micromanagement mostly happens for one reason, a lack of trust. Can you end micromanagement? Yes, perhaps you can.

At least two schools of thought exist for the concept of micromanagement. The first is that your boss simply doesn’t trust you. The second might be that your boss is a control freak. Many people might suggest that both of these ideas are connected and that when there is a lack of trust, the boss feels the need for more control.

Improve Relationships

When it comes to improving workplace relationships building more trust is critical, and when sufficient trust exists there is much less room for micromanagement. Here are several tips that can help make a difference:

  1. Ask more questions. Questions help to create focus. Your boss might not feel comfortable that you understand all of the parameters of the work you are about to perform. Not wanting to insult you or your capabilities your boss says very little but worries. You not wanting to appear incompetent or annoying ask very few questions. The end result is that your boss micromanages the project. The solution is to ask more questions and be sure to illustrate your understanding by using paraphrasing techniques.
  2. Mention past successes. During the early stages of any project be sure to reflect back on past successes. When you mention previous projects it will help both you and your boss feel more comfortable about the work you are about to perform. You might consider saying something like, “Yes, this is just like the work that we did on project X.” Considering that the past project was recognized as successful your boss will begin to feel more confident that you understand the new project and that you will do a fantastic job.
  3. Give progress reports. Perhaps, the last thing you want to do is to feel like you are being a pest to your boss. Not only does constant follow-up and check-ins make you feel weak, but you might also feel like you are annoying or interrupting something more important. If you are being micromanaged perhaps the best thing you can do is report in early. Let go of some of your own ego for a few minutes and provide that update or quick check-in with your boss before you are asked to do so. You might find that small and appropriately structured project updates will give your boss the peace of mind that the project is in good hands.

End Micromanagement

Micromanagement easily ranks in the top three for the type of complaints that I hear from employees at many different organizational levels. It is not necessarily a signal to me that the supervisors are doing a bad job, it is a signal to me that there is a lack of trust.

Trust is nearly always a two-way street, and there certainly can be varying degrees or levels of trust. Chances are good that your boss is not a control freak, and your situation can be improved by increasing trust. Remember though, trust takes time to build.

One final note, fighting trust issues by identifying that they exist and should just go away is not the answer. Saying “trust me” typically doesn’t resolve trust issues and in some cases it might make people watch more closely.

Do you want to end micromanagement?

Be patient with trust and keep in mind that you have the opportunity to build more.

– DEG

Originally posted on November 4, 2016, last updated on November 16, 2018.

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Do You Let Issues Fester?

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Are you in a leadership or supervisory role, and if so, are you timely with feedback?

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During my career I’ve held several positions where I was fortunate enough to supervise employees who supervise other employees. Although some people dislike the word boss, I was the boss of other bosses. This is not sarcasm or boasting, but simply setting the stage for what I’m about to mention next.

I remember a time when several complaints about a similar issue made their way to my office. Team members knew that I liked customer feedback and they presented me with a scenario that included a front-line employee treating customers in an inappropriate manner. On this given day I also observed a displeasing attitude from the employee they referenced. I have always been a chain of command supporter and I believe that supervisors should have full responsibility and accountability for their segment of the employee population, and this employee was a direct report of my direct report.

A short time later on that same day I offered my concerns about the situation to the supervisor responsible for this area, and the response I received was that it would be addressed shortly. Unfortunately, this is not where the story ends.

Over the course of the next several days additional undesirable interactions with the front line employee and other customers occurred. Upon my later investigation into this problem I discovered that because the front line employees supervisor was “too busy” to address the problem with the employee we nearly lost a very large repeat customer. Some may argue that as the supervisor of the supervisor I should have taken more action. Eventually I did, or should I say, I had to do so, but was it too late?

Timeliness of Feedback

Everyone usually enjoys giving kudos, it is easy to offer praise, bring smiles, and make everyone feel good. Dealing with problem performers is often one of the most procrastinated supervisory duties. The right timing means everything, we can be too early or too late, but in many cases supervisors wait too long.

Procrastinating about difficult feedback situations can cause several problems, here are a few:

  • More errors or problems occur between the time of the first notification and the corrective feedback from the supervisor.
  • The effects of waiting cause the employee to be disconnected from the original problem and as a result when finally brought to their attention they lack the understanding of its importance.
  • Additional employees become involved in poor behavior because they learn from, or role model, the inappropriate actions or behaviors of others.

While these are just a few, they certainly are significant enough to support why timely feedback is so critical.

Festering Issues

When a problem or situation arises and feedback is not timely, the issues can get worse. Often well-meaning supervisors tend to gloss over issues at the expense of a weakened customer experience or increased harmful conflict and negativity within the team. Allowing issues to fester is much more costly as compared to addressing the problems or issues in a timelier manner. In addition to some of the already identified problems, supervisors who don’t take action might be repeatedly troubled by the same (and growing) problems and issues causing a loss in their own productivity and a much higher level of stress since they are repeatedly dealing with the process in their mind, but still failing to take the appropriate action. Poor performance or bad behavior continues and everyone becomes more frustrated. Frustration costs organizations deeply in high anxiety, which reduces productivity, and stifles effective communication.

Back to the presenting problem, was I too late? Yes and no. We were able to save the customer and improve the long-term performance of both the front line employee and that employee’s supervisor. However, corrective action from everyone sooner would have minimized this impact.

Don’t let issues fester. You’ll be doing everyone a favor.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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transitioning supervisors

5 Skills for Transitioning Supervisors

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You have to start somewhere and probably most of today’s best workplace leaders were once just part of the crowd. Transitioning supervisors, those who are moving from working as a peer to becoming a boss isn’t always easy, but with some energy spent in the proper areas new supervisors can make it look easy.

It happened to me, one day your just part of the team and the next, well, you’ve become a boss. While there is a certain amount of pride and admiration associated with your new role, there is also a lot of fear and the possibility of conflict when supervising those who you previously worked with as peers.

There are many skills that should be addressed and there are numerous books, seminars, and coaching or mentoring experiences available that can save you time and a lot of frustration. This is important not only for the person transitioning to supervisor but also for those who are now direct reports.

supervisor

While it is difficult to highlight only a few, below are five skills that every transitioning supervisor should master:

  1. Ability to build trust. Everybody seems to understand the need for trust, but very few put in the hard work required to create it. Trust is often challenging to build and can be taken away in a moment. Work with your team to minimize complaining and blaming, make a commitment to decisions and actions, be available, and be consistent. These are considered to be some of the most fundamental building blocks of trust, know them, do them, and you’ll be on your way to a more trusting environment.
  2. Use empathy. Many new supervisors feel a lot of schedule pressure; they are often still doing much of their previous role only now they are also responsible to supervise. New supervisors are sometimes reluctant to get involved in problems because honestly, they don’t believe they should have any. Remember that empathy is not sympathy, empathy means that you don’t necessarily agree or disagree but that you have some understanding of a situation or problem. Being more empathetic means improving your listening skills.
  3. Become a better listener. Listening is not the same thing as hearing, it is a developed skill. Listen with the intent to develop an understanding. Make time to listen, listen to learn and not just to formulate a response. Make every attempt to break down barriers, filters, and stereotypes. Often when we feel that we really know someone we formulate our opinion before they speak, this is known as framing, and if you do it, stop.
  4. Purposely collect feedback. As much as you may feel some discomfort in your new role, those who now report to you also have to get a feel for this new environment. Be very open to feedback, in fact, work to collect it whenever possible. Place value in conversations and avoid chronic use of electronic (email) communication. Connect face-to-face, through video tools, or by telephone and develop the new relationship as a supervisor and direct report.
  5. Have conversations not confrontations. Make all of your communication clear, open, and honest. Always work from facts not opinions and base any difficult conversations on observations and not hearsay. The use of vague language or glossing over issues only contributes to the problem. Praising an employee is easy, addressing difficulties may be more challenging but when the communication is open and timely it reduces the feeling of confrontation.

It’s important for supervisors to commit to the time and resources required to advance their skills. While sometimes the method of transition is to merely give a title, a small salary increase, and turn you loose, it is never too late to work towards improving your supervisory (managers, directors, et al) skill set.

Every strong supervisor today started someplace, never forget where you came from, but it is where you are going now that may be most important.

Transition wisely.

– DEG

Originally posted on October 12, 2016, last updated on January 18, 2019.

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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