Let’s talk about SUPERVISING this month…it’s not unlike coaching football….
There has been a ton of information published on how to supervise, from all different perspectives. My focus will be from a personal development perspective.
Even if you have had a lot of experience working as a professional law librarian, being promoted to a supervisor for the first time can be a little daunting. Suddenly, you are responsible for your entire team’s performance, and you feel like you don’t have any control over how your employees perform. Here are a few things you can do to make the transition to supervisor a little easier:
- Become very familiar with your organization’s policies and procedures.
- Be a model employee – you can’t expect your staff members to arrive on time every day if you are always late.
- Have an open-door policy – let your staff know that you are available if they have any questions or need help with a project.
- Keep the lines of communication open – share information with your staff, if it’s appropriate to do so.
- Be fair and impartial – treat your staff members equally and never play favorites.
- Remain calm and rational, even if you are feeling anger or frustration. Give yourself time before you respond. Sometimes taking a walk helps.
Remember, you’re the coach, not the whole team:
- If an employee is not doing a certain assigned task, work with the employee to make sure she or he understands how to do the task successfully.
- If a staff member is clearly overwhelmed with a particular task, consider adjusting work assignments and asking another staff member to help out.
- Under some circumstances, you may want to pitch in to help out your staff, but never take over and do an assignment for an employee just because you know you can do it more efficiently.
- If a staff member comes to you for a quick answer, try encouraging the staff member to find the answer on his or her own. Alternatively, demonstrate how you got to the answer.
- If an employee complains about another employee, gather all the facts from every side, rather than accepting only one employee’s side of the story.
- When you meet with an employee about a staffing problem, ask questions and be sure to allow the employee to do most of the talking.
- Don’t make any judgments until you have all the facts. You may assume an employee has done something wrong, but there might be a good reason for his or her actions.
- If you’ve identified a serious staffing problem, you will need to document, document, document – dates, times, participants, witnesses, etc.
Be sure to sign up to take any management training offered by your organization.
Take advantage of the knowledgeable staff of your Human Resources Department – remember, they are the experts!
SLA Legal Division Mentoring Committee Chair