Keep calm and supervise on

If you read my blog, you know I like to bike. Last weekend I had the same thing happen to me twice. I pulled up to a four-way stop and while waiting to take my turn, one of the drivers (trying to be nice) didn’t go when it was their turn. Instead, they tried to let me go, even though it wasn’t my turn. Others were ready to go before me (as they should) and nobody knew what to do, making a simple four-way stop into a dangerous situation. The problem would have been averted if everyone just followed the rules. Unexpected behavior can lead to bad consequences.

Doing what’s expected is also a key to being a good supervisor. My wife often mentions her best boss ever. This boss wasn’t the best because she had great, innovative ideas or because she was really nice. In fact, she would call this supervisor “firm, but fair.”  Her demeanor was consistent, which made it much easier to anticipate her reactions so there were no surprises.

Having a volatile boss is bad, no matter how skilled or smart they are. For instance, if you lose a client and one time your boss says “That’s life,” and the next time they yell at you, you don’t know what to expect. Bosses like that have people asking each other “What kind of mood is he/she in today?” They use the answer to determine how, or even if, they will communicate with their boss that day. This Jekyll or Hyde personality can cause communication flow issues and potentially delay the delivery of important, time-sensitive information. As a supervisor, it’s important to be mindful of your reactions — stay calm and consistent.

In the past I’ve blogged about the problem with management by fear. But the other end of the spectrum, when a supervisor is too nice and doesn’t hold people accountable, is not the answer either. As a supervisor, hopefully you can find the right balance. No matter where you fall on the scale, a consistent demeanor is critical to optimize the communication and performance of your team. Keep calm and supervise on.

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine – your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.