4 Responsible career management tips for supervisors

In any economy, employers are worried about losing their best talent to competitors.  Indeed, whether in a good economy or in the current  jobless recovery we are living through, top talent is always able to find a new job if they are dissatisfied with their current job.  So, employers are right to be worried about employee loyalty, especially that of their top talent.  This is even more important today, as many employees have been asked to do more with less since 2007 (and many have not had a raise or proper recognition for all they have done for their organization in these tough times).   As many organizations are at their leanest, department managers are hard pressed to motivate their disgruntled workforce to reach (and exceed) the aggressive 2010 goals upper management has set.

Recent research reported by Gallup in their new book on well-being shows that the person most employees like least spending time with is their boss.  Most employees would rather do chores than be in the same room as their boss.  Furthermore, as compared to spending time with friends, co-workers or children, employees reported the time they spent with their boss as the worst of their day.

If you are a supervisor, you might be wondering what you can do to show your reports that you are invested in them and that you are here to help them reach the department goals?  Here are 4 responsible career management tips that will help you become (or remain) the manager that your report will want to stick with in any economy:

Career management tip for supervisors #1:  Delegate for results - When a new project presents itself, think about which person in your office would have the time and the best skills to get the project done.  Give clear directions about the goals of the project, as well as about the metrics that need to be met (e.g. revenue, timeline, budget available).  Your directions will need to clearly outline the final destination of the project.

Career management tip for supervisors #2:  Give freedom - As Thomas Dewar puts it so brilliantly 'Minds are like parachutes - they only function when open.'  Provide guidance about ways to find out more about questions your reports have instead of giving them the whole roadmap of how the project should get done.  As often as possible, give your reports freedom to surprise you in terms of strategies and ways to complete their projects.  Remain open to new ways of doing things.  Indeed, your ability to listen and cultivate an open climate that encourages new ideas and productive debates among team members will lead to innovative ways to save money and get business done better.

Career management tip for supervisors #3:  Have your reports' back - Your reports are your most important assets.  Demonstrate that you are invested in them by taking every opportunity to be there for them.  When a report emails you, address their questions as soon as possible (and for sure within 24 hours).  When a project gets off track, find out why and provide guidance that can help your reports gain faster access to information or resources they need to get it done better.  When a customer complains about one of your reports, meet individually with your report and get his/her side of the story before making a decision.  In my book, losing an unreasonable customer is much better than losing a dedicated report.

Career management tip for supervisors #4:  Keep your reports accountable - Being a manager is tough, especially if you have a hard time with delivering tough feedback or keeping people accountable when they don't deliver on things they committed to.  Making sure your reports are pulling their weight is central to your ability to establish a departmental culture that fosters innovation and accountability.  This is critical to keep your best talent on board.  Indeed, top talent thrive in meeting and often exceeding expectations.  If not recognized and rewarded for their contributions while observing that others are not held accountable for not doing their job, top performers are going to disengage and leave your department.

These tips are seemingly simple, but difficult to implement.  Find out what obstacles you are facing when trying to implement these tips.  If you need more knowledge, attend a workshop or a training program at your company, the American Management Association or your local professional association chapter.  If you have the knowledge but have trouble keeping yourself accountable or knowing how to deal with a specific situation, identify a peer or a team of mentors that you can rely on for guidance, information, and accountability.

Please use the comment section to add any other career management tips you might have for supervisors!

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