Being a Supervisor 1.0 is a handbook for first-time and aspiring supervisors, covering information useful in preparing to step into that role and fulfilling the duties of a supervisor on a daily basis. While the primary audience is the first-time supervisor, or aspiring supervisor, the book will also be a useful resource to experienced supervisors looking for help with daily supervisory tasks.
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About the Author
Joseph F. Duffy, retired CEO of Catholic Charities Paterson, has a lifetime of business experience (45 years), having served in a variety of executive and board roles for non-profit and for profit organizations. Duffy has graduate degrees from Regis, Rutgers, Seton Hall and William Paterson Universities and is a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit National Honor Society. He provides board and management consultation and training services both nationally and internationally. He lives in West Milford, NJ.
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Vetting the Organization
Were you ever a Boy or Girl Scout? Scouts are guided by The Scout Motto, Scout Slogan, Scout Oath, and Scout Law. I learned them over 50 years ago and can still recite them word for word. I am proud to say I am guided by them even today. For those who are unfamiliar, and for others who are familiar but can't quite recall, The Scout Motto is "Be Prepared." That is sound advice in all aspects of life and certainly for any supervisor.
A corollary phrase to the Scout Motto is the proverb "Forewarned is forearmed." One of the earliest documented references to it, is in a letter dated 1685 from Captain Francis Hooke, advising of the dangers of frontier life in the Americas. This letter appeared in John Farmer's The History of New Hampshire in 1831. The proverb was prefaced with the phrase "A word to the wise is enough; the old proverb is forewarned, forearmed."
For emphasis, I would combine the motto and the proverb as follows: Be prepared; forewarned is forearmed. If you seek or welcome being forewarned, you can be forearmed, and so, be prepared. While this advice is important for preparation before your first day of work it is also equally useful every day at work. So how can you "Be Prepared" before the first reporting day?
Before starting a job, you want to be sure there is congruence and compatibility, between your own personal and professional goals and values and the Mission, Vision and Values of the Organization, and that you are comfortable in embracing them and working in a manner consistent with them. If there is not such congruence your work with the organization will likely be unhappy, unproductive, and short-lived, and could even create a toxic work environment. Visit the organization's website (presuming there is one). It is common for most organizations, public, private, government, for-profit and non-profit, to have one. If you are unable to find one, that might be an indication of an organization that does not keep up with the times, slow to change. Certainly inquire if there is one during the interview process if you have not already found one. Surf the website to learn as much as you can about the organization, its history, current operations, program summaries, brochures, future plans, leadership, annual report, and financial condition.
Ask Human Resources (HR)
If there is no web site, you can certainly ask the contact person at the organization or the HR director there for such items and ask questions you might have after reading them. Don't take it for granted that you will be presented with a job description during the interview process. If you are not, be sure to ask for one. I cannot tell you how often I have been told by an employee, including a supervisory level employee, that he or she did not know all his/ her duties prior to starting work, and were shocked when they learned all they were expected to do after the starting day.
Read the employee handbook, and if there is a separate personnel policies and procedures manual, read it sooner than later, hopefully before you start meeting employees. It will not necessarily make the book of the month club, but it will help you "Be Prepared" and may prevent you from having to back step later when answering employees' queries, only to learn that your answer is inconsistent with policy.
Read the Sacred Documents
I often refer to Mission, Vision, and Values Statements as "Sacred Documents". I would include Strategic Plans too as Sacred Documents. My own 45 year career in management has been in faith-based organizations in the fields of Catholic Healthcare, Catholic Education, and Catholic Charities, and as such, referring to these and others documents as "Sacred Documents" seems understandable, but I do believe the term is equally appropriate for non-faith-based organizations. I don't remember when I started using this reference, whether I coined the use of those words or adopted them from another source. They make sense to me as a way of emphasizing their importance not only in faith-based organizations, but all categories of organizations, faith-based or not, for profit and non-profit, public and private. Webster's dictionary offers several definitions of "sacred". The one I particularly like to embrace in support of calling them Sacred Documents is "set apart for, and dedicated to some person, place, or sentiment ... secured by a sense of justice against any defamation, violation, or intrusion; inviolate." These documents, if committed to, even reverenced, become the "raison d'être" for the organization, giving it meaning and direction, providing a lens through which to make management decisions, assuring steadfastness to Mission, remaining on track towards realizing Vision, utilizing organizational Values in working towards achieving that Vision, and remaining faithful to the Mission as guided by the Strategic Plan (if there is one). There are many definitions for these sacred documents. Let me define each in words that are meaningful to me as a leader.
In as few words as possible, the Mission Statement explains why the organization exists, what its purpose is. I subscribe to Peter Drucker's admonition that a Mission Statement should fit on a tee shirt. His reasoning and mine is that the Mission Statement needs to be widely known. Ideally you and every employee, when asked what the Mission of the organization is, should be able to answer that question. As such, shorter is better.
A Vision Statement is a look into the future, perhaps five or ten years down the road. It answers the question "How would you want the organization described in that future time frame question mark?" It challenges the organization and its employees to action, to realize the Vision while remaining faithful to the Mission. When working with organizations in developing a Vision Statement, I suggest they think of it as if they were writing their obituary for five or ten years down the road. I tell them to consider what they want the readers to read about them and their accomplishments. And I conclude that exercise by telling them that very likely, there would be differences in their ten year hence obituary from what would be written about them in the present time. The differences between the present and that time in the future are what need to be addressed to realize the Vision.
A Values Statement is a statement of important principles, the beliefs that become the moral compass of the organization, steering decisions and actions, guiding the organization and its employees and board in service of the Mission, and in realizing its Vision. Oftentimes they become referred to as Core Values. The organization decides upon these values and what they mean to the organization. By way of example, some typical organizational values might include, honesty, excellence, transparency, service.
A Strategic Plan fits hand and glove with a Vision Statement. A Strategic Plan Document looks at that point in the future (the Vision, three to five years down the road) and identifies goals and action steps needed to realize its Vision. The Strategic Plan becomes the organization's GPS system guiding it on the journey from the present situation to that future Vision. Don't just read these sacred documents. Seek clarification of anything that seems unclear especially if it might be problematic for your own beliefs. These are documents which you as a supervisor will need to know, embrace, adopt as your own, educate others about, and champion.
Read Other Sacred Documents
Organizations have other documents which if you read, you will be better prepared. Some may have an organizational history. Some may have a business or operational plan. All should have founding documents like bylaws, certificates of incorporation or amended certificates of incorporation, charters. Depending on the level of the supervisory position you are interested in, you will want to review financial information such as current budget, audit, tax filings (990 for non-profits and 1065 or 1120 for for-profits). While 990s are public documents easily found on the Guidestar website, for-profit tax statements are not public documents. You could however visit the Dunn and Bradstreet (D&B) website and find a D&B report on both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Asking if such documents exist will evidence your interest in the organization, and, if you are provided them, will be useful in confirming your interest in the organization.
Ask the Boss
If possible, and it usually is possible, sit down with your boss before you start and ask what is the most pressing issue that he/ she wants you to deal with; any deadlines looming, reports due, etc. If he/she is expecting you to do A, and not having been told, you decide to push B, or C, D or J, your working relationship with the boss could be off to a rocky start. So find out what the boss' needs are – Be Prepared. If the boss is open to talking, ask about your staff, their strengths and weaknesses, who are the go-to folks among them, who needs to be supervised more closely, longevity, open positions (and to his knowledge why they are open). And by the way, do not make the assumption that everything the boss tells you is 100% accurate. Be guided here by the words of Ronald Reagan, "Trust but verify". You should hope that what you are told and what you read is accurate; trust it is, but as much you can, verify. Again, forewarned is forearmed – Be Prepared!
Webster's dictionary defines caveat emptor thus: the principle that the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods before a purchase is made. Very likely you are looking to take on this job for the long term, intending to stay and grow. The Sacred Documents as well as all the other information you gather, will tell you a lot about the organization, its, purpose, priorities, values and culture. If you find them to be inconsistent with your own personal and professional goals and values, think twice about taking the position. It is highly unlikely the organization will change its sacred documents to your liking.CHAPTER 2
Look the Part
Dress for Success
Dress like a supervisor/manager. Look professional. Be a role model of dress code; neat, clean, well groomed.
The Duck Test
Have you heard of the Duck Test? "If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it's a duck." Take the lead from the first phrase of the test and look like a supervisor (DUCK). Dressing the part is not sufficient to be a supervisor (not a good one). But it is a necessary part. Appearances are not everything but they are important. If you don't look like a supervisor, you may be off to a shaky start with your direct reports, even with your boss. First impressions are important. Dressing like a supervisor will help you make a good first impression.
How to Pass the Duck Test
How does a supervisor dress? There is no one size fits all answer. Consider the organization's culture, and very likely, organizational policies concerning dress code and appearance. My eldest son was a senior development executive in a large NY non-profit. He would routinely wear slacks and a button down shirt to work and sneakers. I was surprised any organization would consider such as acceptable and questioned him. He assured me that the dress code was informal in his company for both staff and management. He also assured me when he was going out to a meeting or hosting a meeting for outsiders, the shirt, tie, jacket, and shoes came out. If you have been promoted from within, you will likely already have your answer, but even so, confirm. If you are new to the organization, you need to find out. It could be as simple as asking your supervisor what is the expected dress code, or ask the HR director/interviewer. If you are reluctant to ask point blank you can ask for a copy of the employee handbook, and or, a copy of the organization's employee policies and procedures to review and become acquainted with prior to the first day of work. Some employers will actually require you to read these documents prior to starting work and ask you to sign off acknowledging that you read them. In asking for such documents you can show your desire to fit in and be a team player by saying you want to be sure you are aware of key policies like dress code, work reporting requirements, for your own edification, and so you can assist your direct reports in meeting same. Asking such a question may even impress your boss and help get you off to a better start.
Trust and Verify
Reading the handbook or policies and procedures may not be sufficient. The information might be vague and open to interpretation. Some policies may be as a short as "dress professionally" or "business casual" and as such be wide open to interpretation (Google's policy is "you must wear clothes"). If it is not clear, ask for clarity, and ask of someone in authority to be sure you get the answer from those that will hold you accountable. Early on, confirm if the practice is consistent with what you read, and or, were told. In many organizations, acceptable dress has become more informal. It is not unusual that policies have remained unchanged, even though the practice has. You may make a judgment call and dress like the other management staff when you observe a difference between policy and practice, or you might again check in with your supervisor, point out your observation, and ask for clarification.
What you wear is important. So too is how you wear it and how you appear. Always remember, you are a role model. You will be expected to hold your direct reports accountable for compliance with the organization's dress code. If you do not walk the talk on this matter, it is likely your employees will not either. They are more likely to do what you do rather than what you say when you do not walk this talk.
Be sure your clothes are clean, pressed (or at least wrinkle free), and fit. Footwear too should be clean and polished. Hair should comply with the organization's policy, and it too should be clean and well kept. Maintain a high standard of personal hygiene and grooming too. Body art may need to be camouflaged and jewelry, practical. Cologne and perfume too needs to be considered. Even if policy does not address it, be aware that coworkers may be sensitive to odors, even allergic, and many work environments may be so environmentally controlled that even a modest amount of such may easily circulate through the HVAC system to the irritation of many. Clothes and how you wear them help to make the supervisor. Make that good first impression.
Have You Heard This One?
Changed HR Policies
Week 14 - Memo No. 6
The Casual Day Task Force has now completed a 30-page manual entitled "Relaxing Dress Without Relaxing Company Standards." A copy has been distributed to every employee. Please review the chapter "You Are What You Wear" and consult the "home casual" versus "business casual" checklist before leaving for work each Friday. If you have doubts about the appropriateness of an item of clothing, contact your CDTF representative before 7 a.m. on Friday.CHAPTER 3
Meet and Greet and Get to Know
Essential to building a good working relationship with your staff is getting to know them and have them get to know you. There is no one right way to do this. Deciding how to do this must be determined by your own personal preference, the organization's policy or preferences, and logistics like time and space. It is a continuous process that should begin no later than the first day of work (sooner if you have the time and the organization has the time and interest).
I want to share my approach to this topic as I assumed my last CEO position. With the permission and support of my predecessor a meet and greet meeting of all the supervisory staff was called. I introduced myself, shared my educational and work experience. I told them what I knew about their Mission, Vision and Values (had copies of same for all in attendance). I assured them of my commitment to the organization and its sacred documents. I shared my hopes and expectations and described my management style. I then went around the room asking them to tell me about themselves, their name, title, how long with the agency and any pressing need (realizing that in a first meeting some may be reluctant to fully share).(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Being a Supervisor 1.0"
Copyright © 2017 Joseph F. Duffy.
Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Vetting the Organization
Be Prepared 6
Go Surfing 6
Ask Human Resources (HR) 7
Read the Sacred Documents 7
Mission Statement 8
Vision Statement 9
Values Statement 9
Strategic Plan 9
Read Other Sacred Documents 10
Ask the Boss 10
Caveat Emptor! 11
Chapter 2 Look the Part
Dress for Success 12
The Duck Test 12
How to Pass the Duck Test 12
Trust and Verify 13
Looking Good 13
Have You Heard This One? 14
Chapter 3 Meet and Greet and Get to Know
Take Introduction on the Road 16
Invite Informal Reference Check on You 16
One-on-One and Small Group Follow-Up 16
Conduct Your Own Reference Checks 17
MBWA Case Example 20
Chapter 4 Communication - Delivering the Message
Communication Methods 23
Communication Tips 27
Case Examples 33
Chapter 5 Communication - Receiving the Message
What is Active Listening? 35
Active Listening is Important to Good Communication 36
Active Listening - A 12Step Program 38
Case Example of Poor Active Listening Skills Leading to Conflict 47
Chapter 6 Conflict Management
Death, Taxes & Conflict 49
Check Your Attitude 49
Conflict: Good or Bad? 51
Types of Conflict 51
12 Step Conflict Management Program 53
One Size Does Not Fit All 56
Conflict Re-Defined: A + B = C 58
Chapter 7 Decision-Making
The Great Equalizer 60
What Is It? 61
Decision-Making Process: Another 12 Step Program 62
Chapter 8 Hire Right (Smart), Fire Right (Timely)
Hire Right (Smart) 68
Assess the Vacant Position 68
Screen Applicants 69
Conduct Interviews 70
Narrow the Pool of Candidates and Conduct Reference Checks 71
Extend the Job Offer and Confirm Acceptance 72
Fire Right (Timely) 76
Develop a Work Improvement Plan (WIP) 78
Follow-Up on the Work Improvement Plan and Do Not Put Off the Firing Decision 79
Follow HR Policy and Procedures on Termination 79
Firing Can Be Positive for All Concerned 80
The ABC Organization - Employment Application Summary 81
Have You Heard This One? 83
Chapter 9 Supervising - Do It!
Philosophy of Supervision 84
The Act of Supervising - Another 12 Step Program 85
Chapter 10 Time Management
A Time Manager's Prayer 92
When a 24 Hour day is not Enough 93
12 Step Time Management Recovery Program 93
Have You Heard This One? 109
Chapter 11 Dynamic Learning Organization
Never Say Never 110
Change is Inevitable 110
Read to Learn 112
Listen to Learn 115
Use Mentors or Coaches to Learn 116
Share with and Teach Others to Learn 117
Chapter 12 Create and Maintain a Positive Work Environment
The Case of St. Vincent's 119
What is a Positive Work Environment? 120
How Does One Create and Maintain a Positive Work Environment? 121
Building, Maintaining, and Growing a Positive Work Environment 12 Step Program 121
Chapter 13 Know Yourself (Self - Assessment)
Ask Others 130
Ask Yourself 132
The ABC Organization Supervisory Expectations Questionnaire 133
Learning Style 135
Personality Type 135
Chapter 14 Know Others
Déjà Vu All Over Again 137
Why You Should Get to Know Your Employees 137
Know Others 12 Step Program 138
Know Peers and Boss 143
Chapter 15 Self-Care
What is Self-Care? 144
Why is it so Hard to Do? 144
Why Self-Care is Important 146
A Self-Care 12 Step Program 146