Last Monday, we began exploring how to improve front line supervision. When ever this topic surfaces, we need to remember The Law of the Whole, namely that change in one part influences and changes all other parts.
Our goal as a leader is to help front line supervisors to achieve clarity in the following three areas, namely role clarity and definition, individual and team expectations, and organizational systems, processes and metrics. We also need to remember that if we change any of these three things, we have impacted, if not changed, the other two. We also have to realize that our understanding of each of these three things might not be the same as the supervisor, their direct reports, or the customers. Therefore, we need to spend more time creating clarity rather than simply telling supervisors what to do.
Furthermore, Patrick Lencioni in his book, The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (and their employees), Jossey-Bass 2007, wrote that there are three core problems that many people experience at work. They are as follows:
- Anonymity: People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known.
- Irrelevance: Everyone needs to know that their job matters, to someone.
- Immeasurement: Employees need to be able to gauge their progress and level of contribution for themselves.
Whenever, I read this list, written by Lencioni in 2007, I think back to what James Belasco and Ralph C. Stayer wrote much earlier in their book, Flight of the Buffalo: Soaring To Excellence, Learning to Let Employees Lead (Time Warner, 1994). These two authors believed that creating the environment for ownership and responsibility was mission critical to success. The foundation of this environment revolved around four key concepts:
- Transfer ownership for work to those who execute the work.
- Create the environment for ownership where each person wants to be responsible for his/her own performance.
- Coach the development of individual capability and competence.
- Learn fast.
When it comes to improving front line supervision, the above list is a great place to start.