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Feb 13, 2014 | Insights

Human Resources Q and A Quick Tips: Supervision

Q: I have a relatively new employee working in my department.

She is enthusiastic and smart. Her perspective is valuable. But I am finding that at this early point in her career, she doesn’t always have enough experience to make critical decisions independently. How can I support her while ensuring that she – and her work – stay on course?

A: Smart, enthusiastic employees who bring limited experience to their jobs are prime candidates for coaching!

Do authentically seek her input. Explain how you use her input and walk her through the other factors that go into your decisions. She will feel valued and at the same time, will gain important insight into how you want these kinds of issues handled.

Q: We have a case manager who has been working here for a very long time.

He was hired long before I arrived in the role of his supervisor. He has never been a particularly cheery person but recently his attitude has become worse than ever. Other people have begun to complain, what can I do?

A: Telling people that they need to improve their attitude isn’t very helpful – they rarely know what you mean.

Try meeting with him one on one and describing your observations as clearly as possible. Then describe the behavior you would like to see instead. Do people find him rude? Explain why. Perhaps he walks away when people are talking with him.

Let him know that he needs to listen to his coworkers and be sure that they feel heard. Does he think his way is the only way? In that case, tell him that he needs to consider different perspectives and ways of doing things.

Once you’ve described the behavior you expect, you can hold him accountable.

Q: Our receptionist comes in late nearly every morning.

I’ve asked him whether there is something keeping him from being able to arrive in time to open the doors to our clients. His response is that there isn’t anything specific; he has just never been someone who can get anywhere on time. I’ve been very clear and have told him that he needs to be here by 8:30 a.m. at the latest. But I feel as if I am talking to myself – he nods his head, mutters reassuring things and then comes in late again. Am I going to need to fire him?

A: Hopefully you won’t need to fire him.

Talk with him about the impact his late arrivals have on others. Are clients left waiting out in the cold? Do coworkers need to drop whatever they are doing to fill in? Are important phone calls being missed? Remind him of the mission of the agency and where he fits in.

Once he realizes that his behavior has a truly negative impact on those he is here to serve, he might just set his alarm clock to ring just a little bit earlier.