Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Asking For Employee Input And Actually Using It

A supervisor shared his experience: “I would like to ask employees their thoughts about problems or just about work issues, but it comes back to haunt me every time! Sometimes their ideas are so lacking in reality that I can’t help but get irritated. Worse is when I get five ideas from five different people and all of them complain because I didn’t take their advice!”

It sounds as though that supervisor could use some new methods for how he asks for input from employees and how he uses it.

Asking for input the right way.

  • Pick the right time. Don’t expect the most effective input when someone is just walking in the door or getting ready to leave or if they are very busy. Consider scheduling the time.
  • Ask for thoughts or ideas, not for advice. Advice comes with an expectation that you will take it or reject it. Thoughts or ideas are simply expressions of opinions to add to someone else’s thought processes.
  • Ask for thoughts not rants. Sometimes a general “what do you think” is OK, but try to focus the remarks of the employee toward the information you are seeking. Don’t reward people who are known for arguing or getting angry, by implying you like that behavior. Not, “Greg, if anyone can find the flaw in this you surely can.” Or, “Lisa, let me know what you hate about this idea.”
  • Give people time to think about it. Most of us can quickly produce a half-baked idea. However, have you noticed that your best thoughts come after a conversation? Give people a chance to cogitate about the subject in which you want their input–even if only for a few minutes. Email or call ahead. Or, do as Captain Rudy Phannenstiel used to do with me: “I’ve got to make a phone call but I’ll be done in about fifteen minutes. Be thinking about this and I’ll get back to you.” He always did and I had ideas ready! (Surprise, huh?)
  • Let them know how you’ll use their thoughts. Make it clear that you’re getting several ideas and want theirs as well. Or, perhaps you just want to hear someones philosophy about a topic–say that too. Don’t promise that all ideas will be used or that you’ll make a choice based on suggestions. Just listen.

Responding to input and using it.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say you’re better off not asking for input at all than asking for it but not acknowledging it–but that’s near to the truth most of the time. Your response to input and how you use it are key issues that can make getting input a positive or negative experience.

  • Whether you agree or disagree, acknowledge that you listened and heard. A few simple statements can let people know that you have listened and heard. “That’s good for me to know.” “That’s a viewpoint I need to hear.” “This gives me something to consider.” “Interesting way to look at it. Thanks.” “Hmm. I’ll add that to the opinions I’ve gotten from other people. Thanks.”
  • Emphasize positive aspects of the conversation. “I was wondering what you thought about it, so thanks for letting me know.” “I’ve asked several people and I wanted to be sure to ask you.” “I think of all of you as the best resources I can have.” “I’m lucky to have someone with your background here.”
  • Make notes so you can remember. A month from now or next year, it will be good to have a few reminders about ideas you’ve received or the opinions of employees or others. Take the time to send yourself an email or make a file folder, if you asked for thoughts about something significant.
  • Follow up, even if very casually. If you frequently ask for input you don’t need to send a thank you note each time you listen to an employee. However, you can certainly make the effort to say a quick thanks. “Thanks again for your thoughts today.” If someones ideas were a large part of your deliberation or if you used their ideas or suggestions, put it in writing.
  • When possible, reflect employee input on performance evaluations. Use your notes to remind you and them that you value their contributions. A few sentences is enough, unless the input was extremely valuable. “In this reporting period Cheryl was a helpful resource about several key issues. Among them….”

The bottom line: Look for chances to ask people with whom you work for their thoughts, opinions, experiences, concerns, observations, ideas–and now and then, perhaps, advice. Make it a positive process for you and for them. It’s a great way to strengthen relationships, learn more about others and gain insights you need for effectiveness.

July 26th, 2011 Posted by | Life and Work, Supervision and Management | 5 comments

Scatter Gun Correction

Focus on the person who needs correction rather than correcting everyone whether they need it or not. Supervisor Paul Sanderson sent out three corrective emails in a week, to all sixteen employees on his shift.  He sent one to everyone because he saw two employees leaving trash in the break room.  The second was sent because he noticed one employee not following procedures on a task. The third email was sent because Paul found a door unlocked and he didn’t know who did it.

  • Employees who had been performing and behaving correctly felt as though they were being chided unfairly.  They knew who the real culprits were and they  knew Paul knew. They wondered why Paul didn’t just gutsy up and deal with the problem.
  • The employees who had not been doing the right thing assumed they weren’t the only ones cutting corners, since everyone got an email.
  • The employee who left the door unlocked figured he got by with it this time.

Scatter gun correction is nearly always ineffective and creates frustration and hostility.  Even if you hit the target with one or two employees you can alienate others. The biggest concern is that it makes you seem unable to investigate a problem or afraid to deal with it directly.

Take the time to analyze a situation, find out who is involved and what can be done about it, and do effective supervisory work to correct or redirect the appropriate employee and solve the problem. If you think everyone needs to be reminded, at least also speak to the person who specifically was in error this time.  Don’t depend upon him or her getting the hint in your scatter gun correction.

The next time you are considering a scatter gun comment at a staff meeting or briefing, or you’re thinking about a scatter gun corrective email, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I know a specific person who is making this mistake or doing this thing? If so, talk to that person face to face.
  • Is there a better way to deal with this than in writing? Often a private word with an employee will accomplish much more. It will also allow you to build a more personal relationship.
  • Am I considering the scatter gun email to avoid the discomfort of talking to someone directly?  Being a supervisor can be uncomfortable, but that is your issue–and one that will improve with experience.  Don’t make employees pay the price for your lack of comfort by sending them all a corrective email or giving them a corrective lecture, or even a corrective reminder, about something they haven’t done.

An active supervisor who observes the work environment, the work product and employees, will see things that should be commended and things that need to be corrected. The employee who is doing good work should be thanked personally. The employee who needs to change performance or behavior should be corrected personally.

Don’t scatter your efforts. Focus on the correct person and demonstrate knowledge about what is going on at work, as well as on demonstrating fairness and self-confidence.

March 9th, 2010 Posted by | Challenging and Problematic People, Supervision and Management | 7 comments

Why Do You Baby That Employee?

“It’s easer to just let her have her way than to get her upset and have to deal with the fall-out.”

“If we say anything about it, he’ll sulk for days. It’s just not worth it. ”

“I start every day figuring out what kind of mood she’s in. Sometimes I have to figure it out hourly.”

“Sharon never complains about anything you ask, but Lisa makes life miserable for everyone. So, I give most work to Sharon, then commend her afterwards. That’s good–right?”

Those comments might sound familiar if you work with or supervise someone who is notoriously difficult to deal with. You catch yourself tip-toeing around them, couching every request in elaborately non-offensive language, and generally adjusting many things to keep them happy.

The big question is, “Why are you doing that?” The second question is, “Why should a dozen pleasant employees have to adjust to one or two unpleasant ones?”

The answer for most people is, quite frankly, lack of courage. Pleasant people don’t make you explain, look at you angrily or require you to take a stand about behavior or performance. Unpleasant people require you to be more assertive and stand up for yourself and others, and for many that is not comfortable. But caving in or avoiding isn’t comfortable either and usually results in weeks, months and even years of catering to someone who has done nothing to deserve it.

Pick up a book on parenting sometime–or recall the advice you have given the parents of spoiled, bratty, selfish children–and you will be more effective in dealing with the adult version at work. I jotted down three tips from an article on parenting awhile back. I think they are perfect for many workplaces!

1. Assume your child will cooperate, rather than hesitantly or apologetically asking for a task to be done. The tone of doubt in your voice gives your child reason to believe you will back-off if he or she protests. As a parent you provide at least part of the structure for your child’s time. The more that becomes a matter of fact instead of negotiable, the easier it will be for both you and your child.

2. Every time you do a task for a child because the child becomes angry, cries or suddenly feels sick and can’t do it, you have trained the child as surely as if you purposely taught that technique.

3. Do not require or allow siblings to rescue the child who does not want to do a chore or cooperate with others. It sends the message that the habitually uncooperative child is special but other family members are not. A petulant child can soon become the center of everyone’s efforts to keep him or her happy.

Can you see some application of that parenting advice? I can! With one difference: Even though our children essentially receive a salary and benefits, I doubt they would understand the corelation! By comparison, most employees understand they are paid in exchange for correct work and appropriate behavior. I doubt that your troublesome employee would have acted that way at his or her interview for the job!

The next time you’re tempted to tip toe around an employee to avoid making him or her upset, or you dread talking to an employee about something you know will get an unpleasant reaction, think about parenting advice and do what you need to do without apology.  You may have to deal with a temper tantrum, but at least then you will have something specific to correct–and you will be in charge.

Don’t provide a pacifier to an adult, even one more day. Everyone else will respect you more and eventually even the challenging employee will be more calm. (Or maybe he or she will run away and live in some other organization!)

January 14th, 2009 Posted by | Supervision and Management | 15 comments

Taking Care Of Business

...a kingdom was lost, all for the want of a horseshoe nail. For Want Of A Nail
For want of a nail, a shoe was lost,
For want of a shoe, a horse was lost,
For want of a horse, a rider was lost,
For want of a rider, a message was lost,
For want of a message, a battle was lost,
For want of a battle, a kingdom was lost,
All for the want of a horseshoe nail.



If you recognize this post, it’s because parts of it appeared several months ago. This last week I was asked about it and I decided to repeat it with a few additions and changes. But, I left the poem intact!

It is easy to be energized by the idea of a new or big work challenge: Those are the times when all of us are more inclined to feel like contributors to the bigger picture of our organizations. However, those big challenges do not happen often, and most of our work is recurring and routine. Supervisors and managers should know and appreciate the value of every task that helps maintain an effective organization, and frequently remind employees of how important those tasks are.

  • Supervisors are often advised to develop challenging work for employees who seem unmotivated by regular work. It is far better to help employees see that the regular work they were hired to do is worth doing and worth doing well–and to demonstrate that truth by actively showing appreciation for well-done daily work.
  • When exciting or unique work is over,  there is a tendency to feel let down, and routine work seems blah by comparison. When employees believe their daily work is crucial work, challenging projects are not seen as necessary to stay committed to the organization and the job. 

Observe and inspect regular, routine work as though it is as important as big, unique and challenging tasks. those tasks–because it is. Reinforce the value of those tasks with employees and let them know you notice and appreciate their daily work. Make it as worthwhile and satisfying for employees to do routine tasks well, as it is for them to accept and fulfill a great challenge.

You may never be responsible for leading the battle that saves the kingdom, or riding with the message that saves the battle, or even shoeing the horse that carries the rider. Nevertheless, do not underestimate the value of being the one who effectively monitors the supply of nails.

December 7th, 2008 Posted by | Supervision and Management | 8 comments

When It’s Time To Correct and Control, Don’t Hint

If you are responsible for stopping incorrect, inappropriate or problematic behavior or performance at work, the easiest way to do your job is to speak to the employee directly, courteously and unequivocally. Say what is happening now, what is required instead, and what action you will take if the unacceptable behavior or performance occurs again.

Ironically, many supervisors think it will make things easier if they soften their statements by laughing, joking, hinting or talking around the subject. Then, the supervisor is surprised when the employee continues to do the wrong thing.  It may be because the employee doesn’t fully understand what he or she is expected to do or not do in the future. Or, the employee may not realize how serious you were about it, or figures you won’t have the courage to take more serious action.

Another side effect is a loss of respect by everyone who sees the situation. What message does it send about you, if managers, other supervisors and other employees, observe someone behaving or performing incorrectly, and knows that you are either unable or unwilling to control it or stop it?  

Your approach will vary a bit based on your work situation, how long you have known the employee and other circumstances, but your remarks should be direct and absolute, as well as friendly and courteous and with a tone of positive expectations. 

Words and phrases that are not effective: 
“It’s no big deal, but………..”
“I don’t really mind, but some other people have said something about it……”
“Could you sort of not do that so much?” 
“If you just try to do better, that’s all I can ask.”
“Watch that in the future, OK? ”

Words and phrases that get your point across:
“Don’t do that again.” (Or a variation of that concept.)
“Stop.” (“Stop it, now.” “OK. That’s enough. Stop it.”)
“That is a direct violation of our policies. Don’t ever do that again.”
“Your actions are disrupting work for other people. You have to stop doing that right now.”
“If you do that again you’ll get a disciplinary write up.”
“This quality of work isn’t acceptable.”
“What will you do the next time this situation happens?”


Words and phrases that give support as well as providing correction:
“I know that this isn’t like you and I’m confident we’ll never have this situation again.”
“I’m looking at this as a learning time. Now you know, so you won’t do it again.”
“Your attitude about it this has been great and that means a lot to me. I know you’ll do the right thing from now on and I think you still feel good about the job and working with me.”
“You know not to do that again and I know you want to do the right thing. That’s all that needs to be said about it.”
“I can tell you’re upset about it right now, but I’m confident you’ll get through it.”

If there have been chronic problems you should be more forceful to ensure that the employee understands how serious you are. Do not warn that something will happen if you know it is likely not going to occur. Use your supervisory leadership and influence in a positive way to ensure that behavior or performance is corrected.

The bottom line for your effectiveness: Stop hinting, cajoling, suggesting and pleading for an employee to correct wrong behavior or performance.  Say what you mean, directly and clearly and get it over with. Don’t over-talk the subject, unless the situation is complex (and it almost never is!). Ask the employee to say back what he or she understands. Have a demeanor that shows you are concerned. Then, watch the situation to make sure the behavior or performance is corrected right away.

Do your job effectively!

November 21st, 2008 Posted by | Challenging and Problematic People, Supervision and Management | 6 comments

Ken Blanchard and Tina Lewis Rowe — We Agree About Praise

About Praising

Praise what you want to have repeated. To praise someone means to commend them, congratulate them, honor them, extol their virtues, go into raptures over something they have done, or to strongly compliment them. Those descriptions set some high standards for what is praiseworthy! It also reminds us that there is a difference between thanking someone and praising them.

Ken Blanchard and Tina Lewis Rowe. Ken Blanchard wrote about the One Minute Praise in his books on the One Minute Manager concept. I teach about the Instant Impact Praise, which is praise that only takes a few seconds.  Both Ken and I (If I had ever met him I am sure I would call him by his first name) point out that praising not only emphasizes what behavior and performance is valued, it also is a way of saying that the employee is valuable. That is what makes praise so effective.

Tips for praising in ways that mean more to employees and you:

 1. Praise individuals. Telling everyone in staff meeting that you appreciate all they have done is appropriate. However, it will not have the same impact as communicating with each individual. If you have more than twenty people to praise, you may have to rely on mass compliments. If you have a smaller number, thank each person for his or her specific role.

2. Praise specifically. There are times when a general “good job” is sufficient, because the employee knows what you are talking about. Most of the time praise should be specific. For one thing, “good job” is not really praising, it is simply acknowledging in a rather tepid way.

3. Praise honestly.  When a supervisor walks through a workplace, smiling and saying, “Good work!” to everyone, it dilutes the praise for those who really are doing a good job, and gives false approval to those who are not. Look for ways to praise to the appropriate level of accomplishment, and look for ways to recognize what is praiseworthy.

* Develop a Praise Phrase Vocabulary: Use the concepts that fit the work and the person, and praise high enough to show how valuable the work and the employee really is. “Wow! You’re really impressive in the way you handle an upset customer.” “That was exactly the way that project needed to be done.” “This report is a masterpiece of organization.” “You are certainly catching on to this assignment considering the short time you have worked on it. You’re doing the inventory just right.” “When I hear compliments from clients like the ones I heard about this program, I am so glad you work here!”

Don’t those sound more like praise, than, “Good job”? You need to say more than one sentence. But, even if you have to stop at that because of time or the situation, you will have really praised!

* Praise when it is merited, not just to be tossing out praise. Praise is a form of training, because it lets employees know what is valued, and encourages them to do it again. If you praise when work or behavior is not good, or if you praise in generalities when only one specific thing was good, you still are training–but not about the right things.

If you think you will never be able to praise an employee, because he or she is not very praiseworthy, consider these two thoughts: 1. Watch more closely and find something to praise–it nearly always is there. 2. If there really isn’t anything to praise, what are you doing about it?

Enjoy praising–it is one of the best perks of being a supervisor or manager.

Most coworkers do not praise each other. If they do, the praise is more like friendly support. When a manager or supervisor praises it often has more value to the employee–not always, but often. Praise individually, specifically and honestly, and it will brighten an employee’s day, and yours too!

July 10th, 2008 Posted by | Supervision and Management | 5 comments

Maturity Takes Time And Guidance

“These new kids!” Do you sometimes shake your head in frustration at the poor judgment and lack of maturity shown by newer employees, especially younger employees? Take heart, in a few years those employees will be shaking their heads too, and complaining about the “kids we hire nowadays.”

Not long ago I was teaching a group of new supervisors who had been working in their profession for only about six years, on average. One of them said, “These kids we’re hiring aren’t like the ones even a year ago. We’re getting them more immature all the time.” I suggested that perhaps he was getting more mature all the time. He vehemently said, “No, I’m not!”  (His coworkers said he was telling the truth!)

What were you like as a fledgling employee? Supervisors and managers are correct to hold even the newest employees to high standards. However, sometimes it is wise to recall how we were as fledgling employees. Can you recall something you said or did that embarrasses you even now, to think about it? Have you turned out pretty well, anyway? So will most new and young employees, if we train them, support them and guide them–and correct them when it is needed.

The best kind of supervisory guidance.  It is important to train employees in the competencies of the job, and to help them develop professionally by giving them opportunities for learning experiences. However, one of the best kinds of guidance we can provide is to help employees see how they can achieve much more personally and professionally–and how much more they can contribute to the organization and the team–if they work to attain emotional, mental and professional maturity.

In that context, some of the indicators are: Willing to take responsibility for one’s own success and for a role in the work environment, a desire to improve, adaptablity and flexibility, patience, perserverance and dependability, and expanding their thinking and perspectives.

Talk about that concept with each employee. Give them opportunities to gain and demonstrate maturity, and use the words that describe maturity when you praise them.

It took you a long time to mature–and you still are working at it. You still use poor judgment on occasion; you still behave inappropriately now and then; you still lose sight of the big picture and focus on your own personal needs at work. You also are always in the process of growing and maturing. That is true of every employee you supervise as well. Some mature more quickly than others and some never develop to full effectiveness. But, whatever their development, your age, tenure, experiences and job roles will probably always make you feel more mature than they are. In turn, they will view those with less tenure than them as the immature ones!

Your biggest reward. It can be very rewarding to watch employees get better at every aspect of their jobs and become more mature. What you will find even more rewarding is knowing you have helped in the process of development. That does not happen merely because you are a supervisor, it happens because you communicate about important things–and because you care.

Look around and identify those who need to mature so they can begin to achieve their potentials. See them as they can be, not neccessarily as they are. Then, help them become what you know is possible for them. Not all will live up to their potentials, but those who do will never forget you. Perhaps they will use your example to encourage them to guide others.

July 7th, 2008 Posted by | Personal and Professional Development, Supervision and Management | one comment

Prickly People and the Problems They Perpetuate

Some questions about prickly people at work: Do you supervise someone you tip-toe around to avoid setting them off in some way?

Do you sometimes feel that you and the rest of your workplace are held hostage by one person who is incredibly difficult for others to work with?

Does it sometimes unnerve you? Aren’t you tired of it?

The employee who must be treated like a time bomb: I’ve written before about discourtesy in the workplace. In fact, that is a recurring theme of mine, since I hear so many complaints about it. However, this article is focused on the person who is challenging because he or she is hyper-sensitive to critique or suggestion–let alone criticism. Perhaps the employee cries or sulks or becomes angry and withdrawn.

The result is that coworkers and supervisors avoid the slightest hint of suggestion that something that person did or said should be done differently next time or could be improved. The difficult person becomes the only one who never hears a complaint or suggestion. No wonder he thinks he’s perfect! No wonder she is shocked at the slightest criticism! And, what often happens is that when a supervisor finally decides to say something he unloads on the employee in a way that makes things worse.

The difference between sensitive and punitive. I chose the photo for this article for a reason: The prickly tree does not need to be treated gently because it is delicate. It must be treated gently because it will punish you otherwise! That is also why we need to have heightened awareness of employees who seem to be over-the-top about their emotions, irritations and reactions.

You are not psychologist or psychiatrist, so you do not know whether the behavior is much more severe than it seems–not that psychologists or psychiatrists always know either! However, you are responsible for the safety and security of others, including the employee who seems to have trouble handling any critique. You are also responsible for enforcing rules and policies, and there are nearly always rules and policies about courtesy, respect and appropriate behavior.

There are reasons to be concerned. Last week in Kentucky, an employee who had been chided about his repeated cell phone use and for repeatedly not wearing safety goggles, returned to the workplace and shot and killed five people, including the supervisor, before committing suicide. Many similar events have occurred in businesses, industry and government offices around the country. Supervisors and managers are justified in being concerned about prickly people!

You probably will not have such a dire situation with your challenging employee, but I doubt that supervisor thought so either.  You may think you know your challenging employee very well–you may even be friends. But, emotions and mental upset can result in actions you never expected. You certainly might have to deal with a lot of anger and bitterness.

Do your job and handle the situation. Do not let yourself get into the habit of allowing poor work or ineffective behavior because you want to avoid the upset that will result if you say something. Do not require other employees to tolerate bad behavior from a coworker because you do not want to deal with it.

Talk to HR, your psychological resources if available, and your managers, to let them know what you have planned. Follow organizational guidelines.  For example, you may not be able to tell an employee it is his last warning if there was no first warning. You also need to find out what you can do if the employee reacts in a way that is a rules violation or becomes out of control. Can you place a formal disciplinary action about it? Can you require him to go to psychologist? Can you call security? Can you make him go home? Can you keep him out if he tries to return? Know in advance, even if you do not expect any strong reaction.

When you talk to the employee, do your best to make it a comfortable conversation. That might sound impossible, but make the effort. Do not put desk space between you. Sit at a table or in a conversational arrangement.

*Start by saying what you have observed, why it is a problem and what the employee must do differently in the future. Stick to observable behaviors, not what you think the employee thinks or feels.

*Remind the employee of rules or policies and say they will be enforced in the future.

*Keep it brief and do not preach or do excessive counseling, simply state the behavior that must stop.

*Consider following that with the approach of reinforcing what you want to see stay the same, then getting the employee to say back what he or she will do differently in the future about a sample situation.

*If you have organizational resources to recommend, provide those in a supportive way. Just do not let his problems become yours to solve.

There are many resources that can provide more lengthy information about handling difficult corrective interviews than I have space for in this article. However, you will do just fine if you stick with that formula of stating the behavior that is a problem, giving an example, and getting feedback about how it will be handled differently in the future. I’m not saying the employee will like it or thank you. But, at least you can get through it.

Get back to work. After the interview, quickly, quickly, quickly reestablish normal conversations and relationships. Assign work, thank him for a good job, be low-key but appropriate. Give him a chance to save face and move forward.

I have experienced several supervisory situations in my career where I halfway expected a very angry outburst or a sulky temper tantrum. I was correct in three cases. VERY correct in one case! In another case, the employee looked at me for a moment and said, “OK.” He never acted the same tyrannical, angry way again! If I had known it was going to be that easy, I would have talked to him much sooner!

Your situation will be unique and you must decide how it should be handled. However, do not feel foolish for thinking you have reasons to be concerned about someone’s hyper-reactions to criticism. There is ample evidence than such reactions can lead to more serious problems if they are allowed to continue.

June 30th, 2008 Posted by | Safety and Security Planning, Supervision and Management | 7 comments

Delegating — Ten Ways To Make It Work

This post ties in with the first two, Delegating Dilemmas and Delegating–When and Why.

How supervisors can delegate effectively:

1. Be honest and positive, rather than over-selling what is essentially just a task that needs to be done. If you simply want to assign a task you have been doing–or could do–to someone else, assign it in an upbeat way and move on. Do not attempt to sell it as a great career opportunity unless it really is.

2. Keep a record of delegated tasks so you can reflect it on performance evaluations, in conversations, for follow-up and monitoring, and to ensure you do not overuse one or a few employees. Be as effusive in your praise as you honestly can be.

3. Maintain a relationship in your workplace that is so positive with most employees they are not likely to resent your delegation of tasks. When employees know of your commitment and work ethic they are more positive about taking on more work themselves–even work they know you were originally assigned to do.

4. Do not apologize for delegating or directing work. Some supervisors assign work as though they are afraid they are going to be kicked by the employee. Just do it–in a courteous, smiling way that assumes everyone is willing to work to their maximum.

5. Ensure the employee knows how to do the assigned work and has the resources and authority required.

6. Follow-up and monitor. If the delegated work is a one-time project that will take time over several days or weeks, both the supervisor and employee should schedule check-in times. If the work is being permanently delegated, a few follow-up times may be all that is needed, except for routine supervisory awareness.

7. Make work delegation a way for you to evaluate behavior and performance. When new work is assigned is often the main time we find out what the character and personality of an employee is really like. That is also the time to immediately communicate about it to the employee, positively or in a corrective manner.

8. Watch and listen for how an employee is reacting to delegated work. If he or she portrays someone who is overworked and harried, it may be true–or the employee may be over-dramatizing to get sympathy, impress others, or present you in a negative light. Do not let that continue. It may indicate that you need to reassign the work to someone else, or provide support or training. It certainly presents a bad image of your sensitivity to workloads, whether it is justified behavior or not. Find out the problem and work with the employee to correct it.

9. Make good use of your own time, so that clearing your desk of work does not just become freeing you up to sit and chat, read a newspaper for several hours every day, leave early to play golf, or play video games on the computer. (I have seen all of those things done by supervisors who bragged about knowing how to delegate.)

10. Remember that supervisors are ultimately responsible. It is rarely an accepted excuse that you thought an employee was doing the right thing. The old adage is true that you delegate the authority to complete a task, but you do cannot delegate supervisory responsibility for it.

There are three issues that apply to every aspect of work–especially to delegation: Expectations, communications and overall work relationships. Keep those positive and delegating work becomes easy.

April 17th, 2008 Posted by | Supervision and Management | no comments

Delegating — When and Why

If you are a supervisor and feel perpetually pressured for time, you probably need to manage your time more effectively. (I feel incredibly guilty writing that, because I am notorious for being under time pressure. This is a classic case of “Do as I say because I know it’s right, even if I have trouble applying it.”)

  • Stop wasting time in unproductive activities that are not related to actual work!
  • Stop volunteering for work that no one really expects you to do. (Remember that it only makes you feel good to volunteer, not to actually do it.)
  • Stop doing work that is lower level than your job description.
  • Share work, or give it to employees who would like the challenge or the novelty of something you are now doing or have been asked to do by your manager.

That brings us to this post. Delegation is a prime employee-development and supervisory time-management tool.

Some reminders about delegation:

1. It is appropriate for supervisors and managers to delegate work down to the lowest level capable of doing it (within job descriptions).

2. Delegating work  is one of the best ways to help employees gain higher-level skills. If they aspire to higher positions in the organization, it can be helpful for that reason. If they do not, they will learn to see some of the bigger picture of what it takes to make an organization work.

3. Delegating work often results in work improvement. (A supervisor needs to watch that an employee doesn’t improve a task out of existence–unless that is a good idea!)

4. Delegating provides one more way for supervisors to train, commend, re-direct, be valuable, and in other ways gain more influence in the lives of employees.

5. Work that is delegated now and then, but not all the time, can positively break-up the routine.

6. Work that is delegated permanently can allow supervisors to focus on other key tasks and allow employees to become a resource, or to feel more valued as a team member.

Do some self-talk if you have to, to get comfortable with the idea of looking over your stack of work and parceling out to as many people as possible. A bit here and a bit there and you might help yourself a great deal–even if you have to spend a few minutes explaining a task. Delegation is probably why so many other managers seem much less harried and pressured than you do! And, you can bet you won’t be left twiddling your thumbs. But you may be able to go home almost on time.

April 17th, 2008 Posted by | Supervision and Management | no comments