Everyone knows when they have a good boss, but most people have a hard time describing why that boss is so great. The answer is simple. A great boss knows the three primary responsibilities of supervising others.

Supervising others is not a simple task, but these three essential functions will empower employees to excel at their jobs, increase morale and efficiency, and will help make sure you’re remembered as a great boss.

1. Ensure people know WHAT is expected of them and WHY

Clear expectations will allow your employees to approach their jobs with confidence. When an employee does not know what is expected of them, it doesn’t matter how great the employee is, there will be a lot of wasted time.

Without clear expectations, the employee will be forced to stop and think about every action they take. That’s time wasted figuring out what they should do next and probably time wasted on tasks they never needed to do in the first place. Worse, they will begin to question every action they take leading to dissatisfaction in their job.

If your employee knows what is expected of them, they can get right to work and use their time more efficiently, while understanding ‘why’ allows your employee to take ownership of their responsibilities. If they know why they are doing what they are doing, then they will be able to discuss ways to make their job even more efficient instead of waiting to be told how to improve. In addition, it will allow your employees to notice potential problems or pain points. This opens up the opportunity for them to show leadership and initiative using the four steps in our article on Coaching Up.

2. Enable people to know HOW to do what is expected of them

It’s not enough to simply share the what and why with your employees. You also need to teach them how to meet your expectations.

When you teach a young child how to hit a baseball, you don’t simply say “hit the ball with the bat.” You model how to hit a baseball first, then you teach the child how to hold the bat, how to keep his or her eye on the ball, and to always follow through.

Coaching employees in the workplace is similar. Model the behavior you want them to see. Break down the steps to success. Make sure your employee knows what follow through looks like in the workplace.

Taking the time to teach procedures to your employees will save you time in the long run. New employees will adjust better to their new roles – they won’t spend time learning through trial and error and will start adding value to your team more quickly than an uncoached employee.

Making sure your employees understand the how of their roles will also increase employee confidence. Not only will this increase morale, but it will also increase productivity by creating consistency in how tasks are accomplished across the team. This means less confusion when different people are working on the same or similar tasks, and thus fewer errors that need to be fixed.

Most importantly, if employees know their boss wants them to understand how to do their jobs, they will be more comfortable asking for help when they need it. This increased communication will prevent delays from employees guessing about how to approach a task. Remember, the goal isn’t for you to hold the employee’s hand for their entire career, it is to strategically teach the employee so they can master their job and proceed with confidence.

3. Provide the necessary RESOURCES people need to do what is expected of them

All the knowledge in the world can’t solve a problem if there are no resources to use. Your employees can’t succeed unless you supply the necessary resources.

This might be a computer, e-mail address, phone, or internet connection, but think beyond the basics.

  • Time: Is your employee being pulled into too many meetings, preventing him or her from doing meaningful work? Have you ensured your employee has uninterrupted time to focus on projects that require an exceptional attention to detail?

  • Education: Does your employee have access to continued learning experiences to advance their skills? Have you created documentation and training manuals for important procedures and tasks?

  • Clear procedures: Does your office have a clearly stated way to organize important information, such as client data and project files, that will allow any team member to join a project and find what they need?

This is a great opportunity to get feedback from your employees. If you’ve implemented the first two tactics and made sure they understand the what, why, and how of their job, then you’ve opened a line of communication. Keep the conversation going and you’ll be the first to hear when your team needs something.

Be A Great Boss

If you look at the big picture of a supervisor’s three responsibilities, it becomes clear that the key to be a great boss is communication and respect. Put time into these three essential management goals and you will have a team full of confident employees who take pride in their work.


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