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We have all seen the leader who seems to be checked out. Seemingly aloof and uninterested in anything from the organizational level. The leader who is possibly distracted by outside superfluities of modern life; television shows, sports, personal issues, etc. Conversely, we have seen the exact opposite. We have seen the leader that seems to know a bit about everything. They are in tune with the organization and have a healthy balance between ‘being in the know’ and knowing what and when to act on accordingly.
The age-old question of higher level management is; “How do you get supervisors engaged?
At the root of disengagement are several factors. Perhaps the supervisor is experiencing a personal stressor such as divorce, death in the family, financial strain. The list goes on. Possibly they are experiencing burnout symptoms. For the sake of this article, let’s focus on one of the most common explanations. The supervisor is either new as a supervisor or even have been supervising others for years but, never made the change mentally into supervision.
Being a supervisor and leader requires a shift in mindset from doing to getting others to do. Becoming a leader also requires the ability to think more broad scope than what a front line employee is used to doing. To think more globally, answering for others, looking at organizational consequences and being an invested party to the company is sometimes a hard thing to teach.
To teach engagement, a leader nearly needs to force the role of the supervisor. Below are three keys to getting engagement:
1 – Ask questions. Ask frequently and in-depth. In the beginning stages of developing other leaders, there is a lot of leg work and extra effort you, as the organizational leader must put in. Ensuring that items are being followed-up on and asking what the follow-through plan is an essential step in creating engagement. The idea is to get the person used to being asked a follow-up and continuing plan questions that they automatically have them in their head as their day is unfolding. As the leader begins to predict your questioning, you can start to decrease the frequency in which you ask questions.
2 – Create interaction opportunities. Find reasons for you and the new leader to interact. This can be weekly briefings over coffee to see what news they have to bring or even a daily staff meeting. Again, you are opening a line of communication. An opportunity for you to ask questions as well as them to sell their people and ideas to you.
3 – Give ownership. As often as you can, let the world see their thoughts. Let them be the owner of a solution. You are building their confidence. When an employee is confident, they will often take the proverbial ball and run with it. Let them be the leader that they need to be by empowering them at every step of the way.