8 tips on how to be a great supervisor

Aug 06, 2015

supervisor"Great supervisors mean you have a great culture," says Greg Swan, health and safety officer for Ottawa Community Housing Corporation. Key attributes of great supervisors were the subject of a session Swan led at WSPS' national Partners in Prevention Health & Safety Conference & Trade Show. Here are some highlights.

  1. Be honest and transparent. Tell everybody what you know, whether they're going to like it or not. If you try to hold back, they're going to sense it.
  2. Be firm but fair. The best boss in the world is the one who will pat you on the back but kick you in the butt too. Establish an understanding with your team that you have their back and hopefully they have yours. Expectations are key here. Talk to your team members and get on the same page.
  3. Open up communications. Listen and be transparent. Look for opportunities to boost morale. You're officially the happy police. During team meetings, if you're the one doing all the talking, you're doing it wrong. Engaging your employees will encourage them for the rest of the day to be involved in any questions and answers that come up.
  4. Motivate. You're trying to build leaders. As President Eisenhower said, you cannot push a string. It's one of the greatest leadership quotes of all time.
  5. Provide positive recognition. When you're supposed to be doing your daily/monthly inspections and you're documenting what you find wrong, do you document what you find right? When recognizing people for doing great, do it with conviction, (there has to be belief in your voice), be specific about what you're giving them positive feedback on (as opposed to 'Hey, great job!'), and make sure you're reinforcing the right thing (not just 'Thanks for getting that done on time').
  6. Document. Notebooks may be old school, but they're incredibly useful for recording positive or negative behaviour when it happens. Be prepared when the health and safety professional asks, 'Show me how you keep personal notes about your staff.' Or the HR person asks, 'Where are those personal notes you took when giving a little verbal discipline?'
  7. Get on Twitter. People give everything away. 'Here's the 10 best ways to do this,' or 'Watch out for these critical moments in your workplace.' You get a lot of education for free on Twitter.
  8. Acknowledge when things don't work out and move forward. Probably the best trait of a leader is to stand up at the front of a room and say, 'We gave it a try yesterday, and it didn't work. My apologies, let's come up with a better solution.'

WSPS can help you create great supervisors