There are six key elements of leadership that need to be emphasized if your staff and field supervisors are to be highly productive, effective and efficient.
Communicate and Clarify Expectations
The supervisor and employee should reach mutual agreement in five basic areas:
• The work to be done. Explain the quality standards and set a deadline for each task.
• How the job fits into the total picture and why it is important.
• Define the performance factors: quality, quantity, job budgets, safety and material and equipment control and customer relations.
• How and when performance will be measured. It may be through quantitative measures or a series of statements describing satisfactory performance.
• How performance will be rewarded, such as a pay for performance system.
Let Employees Know Where They Stand
Accentuate the positive. Give your employees positive reinforcement when they do something well. Make sure the feedback is specific, timely and relevant while focusing on results accomplished. This type of feedback, like other leadership techniques, is another way of creating ownership for one’s job. Remember, when you reinforce positive behavior, it tends to repeat itself.
Establish a Sound Communications Network
Effective leadership requires a network of communication that is both company and employee centered. An approach to communication that goes beyond basic job information can accomplish several things. It promotes a sense of identification, a feeling of being a key member of the team. This in turn fosters the interest, commitment and closeness that are so important to harmony and cooperation. A sound communication system breeds involvement and decreases the likelihood of an employee stating, "I just do my job. That’s what I’m paid for.” When people feel valued, they tend to be more productive and will enjoy coming to work every day.
Establish a Positive Work Climate
Give people the freedom to do their work without constant interference. Take positive action when an employee makes a mistake—be a coach, not a critic. Provide help and assistance in problem-solving as opposed to always giving the answer. Get them to specifically identify the problem along with the underlying causes. Ask them to provide suggested solutions.
Delegation is sharing responsibility and authority with others and holding them accountable for performance. Delegation is like a "three-legged” stool where each leg depends on the others to help support the whole, and no two can stand alone.
• Responsibility—the tasks to be completed on time with quality results.
• Authority—the amount of decision-making power you will give an employee.
• Obligation—the employee’s promise to complete the tasks in an effective and efficient manner.
When delegating, the supervisor must do the following:
• Think and plan first.
• Know the strengths of your people and delegate accordingly. Select the right person.
• Clarify the results expected.
• Decide on controls and checkpoints.
• Be sure to follow up—check, assess, coach and correct.
The word "commitment” means, "I promise.” The foreman’s job is to encourage the crew members to do their best work every day. This can be accomplished by doing the following:
• Review the schedule and quality specifications with them.
• Set production goals with them—the specific tasks with deadlines.
• Encourage people to ask for help when they’re not sure of what to do or how to do it. Offer support and assistance.
• Give them the necessary resources to do their job.
In the end, besides being an effective manager, you must also be a formidable leader by committing to an ongoing process of inspiring excellence in others. The process cannot be broken down to "command and control.” Rather, it’s about marshaling the talents of others to do their best work, day in and day out, while remaining adaptable and flexible to challenges as they arise. Bottom line: Move forward and implement these six key elements to unleash the talents of your people.
Norb Slowikowski is president of Slowikowski & Associates, Inc., Darien, Ill.