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Old October 27, 2008, 01:52 PM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: November 28, 2004
Location: Silicon Valley, Ca
Posts: 7,117
Capt Charlie nails it pretty well here.

A mediocre supervisor can throw orders right and left, and be a "my way or the highway" kind of guy, and get the job done, but he'll never get 100% from his people.

A good supervisor knows how to motivate his people, so that they want to do the job, but that can only be done if they respect both the rank and the person, and that can only be done if that respect is mutual.

To that end, I didn't micromanage them, and I believe in public praise, and private discipline. I showed them trust until or unless they proved they couldn't be trusted. And, I didn't sweat the small stuff. I cared.
I learned a long time ago a simple reminder for managers:
A good manager can step on your toes without messing up your shine.

Capt Charlie is correct when he says one can demand respect for rank, but personal respect must be earned. One salutes a 2nd-louie out of respect for his rank, not his person (with rare exceptions). One does not salute a Sergeant, but many get respect because they have earned it many times over.

One of the best bosses I ever had would bring a mistake to your attention. But no matter how simple or serious, once he was done chewing your tail, by the time the session ended you knew he was fair, honest and on your side.

Bud did this by using a few principles;
- People make mistakes. It's human nature.
- Investigate first, criticize, then help the employee solve the problem.
- Always lead - lead them to the correct solution but let them implement it to learn.
- Praise in public, criticize in private.
- Keep things in perspective and maintain a sense of humor

When a problem comes up, a good manager first investigates it. There may have been a valid reason the mistake was made. Criticize as appropriate then discuss what the proper solution should be. Ask questions and make the employee think it through as you would. Then let them spearhead the corrective actions with your support.

This builds respect for your boss. It helps if he has a sense of humor and you know how he uses it. I had one boss who would say "Well! Good afternoon!" to anyone arriving 2-3 minutes late. But he did it with a laugh in his voice to let you know he noticed, but it's not significant. When he asked "Why were you late today?" was when he was serious.

If you're the kind of boss that your subordinates will come to openly and say "I'm not sure how to handle this and I need your advice." then you're probably doing a good job. Likewise when they tell you about some issue brewing elsewhere and give you a "heads up" so you don't get blindsided by it.

If your subordinates are constantly asking for things in writing or sending you e-Mails confirming your instructions, chances are they are in CYA mode and don't have a lot of trust in your verbal communications.
BillCA in CA (Unfortunately)
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