Recently I became more aware of the issue of balancing the requirements of leading, supervising and managing, and task completion among supervisors and managers in the workforce. This poses a challenge for the organization, the supervisor, and the employee, each in their own way.
The organization needs to ensure that certain tasks are accomplished such as regulatory requirements, value creation, increased sales, customer and employee satisfaction, employee retention, growth, etc. To do this, the organization hires individuals to accomplish tasks such as supervising a team, producing a product or report, and providing customer service for example. All of these tasks and more, must get accomplished in order for the organization to survive and thrive.
The supervisor’s responsibility is to manage their team and ensure their product, service, or result is delivered in an efficient and effective manner. The role of the supervisor is also to provide the management, leadership, direction, mentorship, and training necessary to help their team succeed. Additionally, the supervisor must provide initial, periodic, and annual assessments and appraisals in order to properly evaluate their team members to ensure they are working towards their goal or realign them as necessary. A supervisor is also a subordinate to someone (even the CEO reports to the Board) and must provide some sort of deliverable – they must complete a task. This could be in the form of reports, assessments, evaluations, and so on.
The employee’s responsibility is to produce the product, service, or result in an efficient and effective manner based on the organizational needs and the direction of their supervisor. The employee in this sense, is the one doing the work. This is the individual and team that provide customer service, answer the help desk phone, piece together a product for shipment, and receive goods to be distributed.
The challenge that is imposed on the supervisor is the requirement for more and more supervisors to balance the needs of the organization, supervising their team, and producing deliverables at the same time. A good manager, capable of successfully managing their team and producing their reports on time becomes the recipient of more work – an opportunity to excel some might say. What occurs is, something is dropped. Generally, most supervisors choose to ensure their own supervisor is satisfied so they produce their report or other deliverable on time, at the cost of a fair and timely evaluation of their employee. Who suffers here? The employee doing the work of the organization.
How do we correct this?
First, the supervisor must shift their mindset form supervisor to leader. A leader knows when to stand up for injustice, make decisions, inspire others, and achieve success without the expense of others. This does not say there is no cost involved with making decisions and standing up for what is right. Sometimes, this may mean longer hours for the leader to produce their deliverable on time for their own supervisor and staying late to ensure their employee evaluations are completed on time, accurate, and helpful.
The leader must make known the hardship additional (excessive) tasks will impose on the team and eventually the organization. It could be that senior management was not aware of the potential issues. It could be an oversight or even a temporary shift in the workload due to another manager’s severe illness. Sometimes, knowing the reason for the extra work makes the work that much more important to complete – it may motivate those tasked with completing the work.
Other times, the work may be assigned just because management needs it to be completed and does not care what it costs. As the leader, it is your responsibility to balance the requirements of leading, supervising (and the responsibilities of that role), and completing your own tasks.
So what do you do? Do what is right and the best you can, and lead, motive, and inspire others.
Jared W. Snow
Leading people or teams that want to be led is much easier than leading a team that would rather not. This makes perfect sense and is likely not a surprise for anyone. The question, and challenge, is how do you motivate a team to accomplish a task that they would rather not do. How do you get someone to complete a project that they could care less about? A leader must motivate and inspire and provide task and purpose.
Motivation is the force that gets you going – the carrot or the stick. For some, being a member of a team is motivation enough. Others need a bonus, raise, or praise (the carrot) while some need the fear of demotion, losing a bonus or even their job (the sick). As the leader, you need to find what motivates your team members and get them going. Each team member is different and needs different motivation. Some are self-motivated, some need the carrot, and some need the stick.
Inspiration may be synonymous to motivation in many cases, but when it comes to leading, they are different. Motivation may become inspiration if done correctly; however, inspiration focuses on energizing the individual or team to achieve or exceed their potential, and becomes a part of who they are. Motivation is the carrot or stick, whereas inspiration becomes the innate desire to succeed. A motivated individual will accomplish a task as quickly as possible to get home and watch the game while an inspired individual will strive for better results.
Task and purpose.
Task and purpose must go together. Always. A task in and of itself is meaningless without purpose. Have you ever been assigned the task of producing a report knowing (or thinking) that nobody will read it? How does that make you feel? I have had my fair share of such tasks, often asking myself “why am I even doing this?” Would it change if you thought someone would read it or if you knew why you were completing it? Have you ever assigned someone a task without providing purpose? Try telling them why the seemingly meaningless task is so important and that you actually do need it. Show your team how important it is that the task is completed. What if the report isn’t really that important? What if the task really is meaningless? Then you may want to stop the report or task and focus your teams’ energy on something that is more valuable.
Motivate your team and inspire them to succeed more. Provide clear task and purpose. When you do, step back and see what they will do. You may just be amazed.
Jared W. Snow