Often the difference between a successful supervisor and a mediocre one is simply the difference between their people. One group will work together, overcome obstacles and take pride in each other's abilities. Another will be fragmented with no sense of team accomplishment, no commitment to meet goals and little identification with each other.
The fault is often the supervisor's. It is the supervisor who should know enough about each of the people who report to him or her to be able to inspire, motivate and direct them in terms tailored to their individual needs, goals and ambitions.
The following quiz is no substitute for getting to know your people through talking with, listening to and observing them. But it may stimulate your thinking in those directions.
Do you take each employee's capabilities into consideration, then give assignments that challenge and "stretch" each individual?
If employee turnover is a headache in your department, chances are that your people miss what is known as "job satisfaction." What can you do about it?
At least four things:
Ask for advice. Seek and use every opportunity to make employees feel that their opinions and judgment are respected and valued. It costs nothing to let people think they are contributing to the overall effort, as well as to their own particular area of responsibility.
In tackling a problem, the orderly assembly and testing of facts are frequently not enough. They must be juggled, toyed with, turned upside down, hitched to non-facts, even handled whimsically sometimes. The solution to problems can come from the most unlikely sources: experience, experiment, accidents, daydreams, hard work. You never can tell where or when you'll find them, but there are ways to coax them into existence.
Use your imagination. Fresh ideas have two major enemies: logic and common sense. Most of the world's great inventions were fathered by people with the ability to conduct their minds on free-wheeling excursions into the nonexistent, the unconventional, the absurd. Try it yourself on a problem. How might a child approach it? Suppose money were no object? What could you do if you had all the time in the world? Can you solve this in some combination? With what? With whom? Don't be afraid of getting wrong answers. You only need one correct answer.
Get it down on paper. Your pencil can help, too. Write the problem out as simply as you can. Study it. Jot down every alternative that occurs to you. Draw pictures. Doodle. The mere act of playing with a problem sometimes yields the solution.
Brainstorm. Because ideas generate ideas, a noteworthy method of finding solutions is to talk over a problem with others: friends, colleagues, employees. Encourage other people to give free rein to their imaginations and share their insights and inspirations, no matter how outlandish they may seem.
Something A says may trigger B who in turn may trigger C and so on. Many ingenious ideas have been created through this kind of free association.