10 traits of effective supervisors

February 07, 2022

Power is the authority or right to give orders and make decisions, while influence is the ability to positively affect ideas and actions PHOTO: Joe Holland

Ask employment experts what traits make an effective supervisor and the answers will inevitably center around ‘soft’ people skills such as communication and emotional intelligence, even in settings as tough as a construction job site. 

It makes sense; dealing with people can be challenging, no matter where you are.

It’s common for employees to become frustrated or annoyed with their job as a result of issues with the people they work with. If not dealt with properly, these interpersonal problems can lead to serious damage to productivity and morale, especially in construction, where the work is physically demanding and timelines are strict.

To explain how to build productive work relationships and supervise employees in all settings, Larry Kokklenberg of Leath Group, LLC, and a World of Asphalt education speaker, provided 10 simple guidelines for effective supervision.

1. Build trust

There are very few relationships - work, personal or anything in between - that can survive without trust. Kokklenberg says that trust is the foundation for all positive and sustained relationships and these relationships are vitally important if a team wants to perform at a higher level.

When looking at behavior that helps build trust, Kokklenberg said that communication, consistency and leading by example are all important behaviors. On the other hand, poor communication, lack of integrity and lack of reliability were listed as behaviors that hurt trust within a company.

2. Manage by influence, not power

An important distinction to make between power and influence, Kokklenberg said, is that power is the authority or right to give orders and make decisions, while influence is the ability to positively affect ideas and actions. Furthermore, an autocratic top-down model of employment can hurt a business if not handled correctly. Rather than increasing your power, grow your influence by being knowledgeable, respectful, caring and flexible.

3. Create a culture of appreciation

As simple as it sounds, “thank you” goes a long way. Saying thank you costs nothing and gives more than you expect in return. A total of 76% of employees say that being recognized by their superiors motivates them in their job. Kokklenberg says that after being more personable with your staff, acknowledging all extra efforts and thanking people for their work every day, the culture of the company will become more positive in 30 days. 

4. Be fair and just

No employee should be treated differently, be it better or worse, than another. Being impartial, unprejudiced and fair will show everyone that they are all as equally important and will help build trust and morale within the company.

5. Be respectful

This is an easy one. Would you rather have a boss that is considerate, caring and patient or one that is harsh, abrupt and difficult? When people fear or dislike their superiors, they are constantly stressed or tense about their work situation, which also negatively affects their work.

6. Be a role model

Whether you like it or not, being a boss also makes you a role model by default and being a role model comes with responsibilities. Manage yourself in a positive manner and live by your own values and the values of the company. In return, your employees will respect you and trust that the company is in good hands.

7. Be helpful

Understand that people will come to you for help and advice; boss is synonymous to teacher in this respect. One of the responsibilities of being a boss is to help make everyone else’s jobs easier. Give instructions, feedback and advice to help people develop themselves and their skills.

8. Be positive

Everything you do will reflect back on your staff – your attitude is highly contagious. Positive supervisors will breed positive employees and positive employees tend to do great work for their company.

9. Build the team

Every company or business is one large team. Work gets done by the entire team, never by just one person. Build a collaborative mindset by encouraging cooperation and helpfulness and always reiterating the teamwork aspect of the workplace. In return, you’ll get employees that not only work well together, but enjoy doing so.

10. Link work to a higher purpose

Kokklenberg encouraged everyone to not give people jobs, but to give them a purpose. Be sure to always link your work to your mission statement. This will encourage employees to work for the good of the company instead of working for a paycheck.

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