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Executive Supervision, Part VII: Administrative Do’s and Don’ts

Upward EdgeThis is the last installment of Executive Supervision. This narrative is an outgrowth of a presentation that I gave to graduate students at Old Dominion University in November, 2008.

Today we will discuss Administrative Do’s and Don’ts. The reference for this section is taken from the book “Secrets of Executive Success.” This book was written by Mark Golin, Mark Bricklin, David Diamond, and the Rodale Center for Executive Development. So let’s begin.

Do trust your intuition: When I have gone with my gut instinct, I have often had better administrative outcomes. So if you have good instincts, trust yourself. Give yourself credit; you know more than you think. Therefore trust your hunches and remember those prior experiences that begat successes.

Do appreciate good work: When your employees do good work; always praise them. To foster more good work always find a way to praise your employees in public. In today’s work environment it is pertinent to praise good work.

Don’t take credit for the good work of your employee: Remember that your employees’ good work is a reflection on your ability to lead. Your job as an executive leader is to delegate, follow-up and to make sound management decisions. I remembered a time when a former boss of mine took credit for something I did and on another occasion that same boss rejected a conceptual idea that I proposed; however, several years later my boss presented that idea to his superiors as if it came from him. It was not a good feeling and I lost all credibility for that boss. If you want motivated employees give them the praise and the credit they deserve for the ideas and work that they have produced.

Do get to know the work of your employees, both their work contributions and their personal lives: The best way to get to know your employees is to walk around, talk to them, listen to them and let them know that you genuinely care about their work, but you also care about other aspect of their lives outside of work.

Don’t be inaccessible: Often times you will have time constraints, but it a must to have an open door policy with your employees. If you cannot talk with an employee on the spur of the moment; schedule a mutual time to meet. Face to face contact is essential and always appreciated; especially, in the age of emails, faxes and mobile phones. I do have to confess that this is a challenge for me. With the additional workload and limited time at my desk, I often found myself or I give the impression to my employees that “right now” is not the time to talk with me. A fair warning, watch your body language. Your body language or your facial expressions may give employees mix signals. Can I talk to him? He said he has an open door policy, but he gives out vibes that say I do not want to be bothered. We must make time for our employees; this helps us stay ahead of the curve of any dooming organizational problems or employee’s concerns.

Do tackle problems as soon as they occur: Don’t let problems fester. Intervene quickly. In many cases, the quickest and direct way to deal with an issue or problem is to have the parties to meet and take ownership of the issue at hand. Your role may be as a facilitator and/or a mediator. Remember, however, that the final outcome rest with you.

Don’t be afraid to be a little vague about your plans: It is not always wise to put all your cards on the table. Let timing and the input of others be on your side.

Do treat your employees fairly. I did not say equally. When you know your employees, you know what’s fair for each employees within the confines of your company’s human resources policies.

Do behave in a manner that will make your employees trust you: In other words, be ethical, be fair and above all “walk your talk.”

Don’t underestimate the destructive power of disgruntled employees: Deal with morale issues quickly. This is similar to tackling problems that was discussed above. You cannot overlook or allow an issue to grow. Most executive leaders are not blind to morale issues on their watch, but they often struggle on the appropriate intervention to take. Seek out those you trust to gather information on how and why an employee or employees may be disgruntled. It does not hurt to go directly to the disgruntled employee to find out what is wrong and too, possible means to remedy the problem or issue.

Do all you can to support the people below you: Don’t have them fight “battles” that you can and should do. Sometimes because of your authority you are the only one that can fight the battle that has impacted employee’s productivity and in some cases, their morale.

Do be predictable: This helps employees know how to respond to you. You must provide predictability and calmness in the work environment. This is not always easy, but it must be. With job redeployments and job losses, calmness from the boss is a must.

Don’t ignore your insecurities about being a leader or manager: It is okay to seek advice and ask for help. You can not expect to know every detail about your assignment or the tasks required of your employees. Trust your employees.

Don’t lose sight of the long range goal: This can easily happen, if you do not take quality quiet time and as I have discussed in prior blogs, I recommend that you encourage your top managers to do the same.

I hope the Executive Supervision series have been helpful. I would love to hear from you.

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