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