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Sunday, September 29, 2019

Can I Get A Do Over?

For the large majority of my full time work life, I was responsible for supervising others. And I'm speaking of real supervision, which includes doing performance assessments. Because until you've sat eye-to-eye with another adult to review the ways a job performance needs to be improved, you may have had a supervisory title but you've never really been tested. I directly supervised people in the private sector, the public sector, and in my own business.

Because I've been happily out of the supervisory game for almost ten years now, I've had a lot of time to reflect on those years of supervising. I had some success, worked hard at learning how to do better via formal and informal education, tried to be fair and treat people equitably. But because everyone is supervised - including people who themselves supervise - my reflections on my own performance as a supervisor have frequently ended with comparing how I did that job vs. the people who supervised me, i.e. those who were responsible for doing my performance assessments. And those comparisons often make me long for a do-over.

There were a few things my best supervisors did consistently that I didn't do with those I supervised, or, at least, I didn't do these things consistently:

* They largely let go of details, focusing more on the big picture.
* They were careful with their constructive criticism, i.e. they were honest yet tactful.
* Their egos were not easily threatened.

If you are or have ever been a supervisor, how do you think you stack up against the best supervisors you've had? What do they do well that you don't do as well? If you aspire to being a supervisor, my suggestion is to not wait until you're in the position before you begin thinking about the ways you can be effective in that role. May prevent you from longing for a do-over a half-century from now.

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