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A good assistant supervisor should, to quote motivational speaker Brian Tracy, "Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily, even if you had no title or position." Although the position may include unimaginative tasks such as tracking employee attendance and briefing staff members, it also provides ample opportunities to creatively inspire employees to exceed their own limitations and help the supervisor carry out department and company goals.
A good assistant supervisor should be an excellent communicator. This means maintaining a friendly, welcoming demeanor, so that employees feel comfortable speaking about work-related (and perhaps non-work-related) issues. Assistant supervisors should relay information quickly, articulately, efficiently and thoroughly, so that employees are kept abreast of all relevant information and understand what’s expected of them at all times. Being an excellent communicator also involves active listening -- assistant supervisors should make eye contact with people they’re speaking with, and maintain open, encouraging, non-defensive body language. This means not crossing your arms in front of yourself, as this can be perceived as standoffish. Nod to show you’re listening and repeat back what people have said to you, so employees know they have been heard.
Most employees respond well to positive feedback. To be a good assistant supervisor, praise your employees often. Highlight their strengths and encourage their talents. Even if you have to criticize, underscore what workers have done right before pointing out areas of improvement.
Lead by Example
A “do what I say but not what I do” management style can negatively affect employee morale. Good assistant supervisors will lead by example -- this means arriving on time, maintaining a positive attitude, being well organized and remaining respectful and professional at all times.
Keep a United Front
As an assistant supervisor, you are essentially an emissary of the supervisor and an extension of her role. As such, it is your job to present a united front with your supervisor at all times, even if you disagree with her methods or decisions. Where appropriate, privately voice your concerns, but never discuss any discord with other employees, as doing so can negatively influence their morale.
Assert Your Role
Although you aren't first in charge, the job of assistant supervisor is a leadership role. If you respect your position, your employees will do the same. You must delegate responsibility, resolve conflicts, and reprimand when necessary. In all your duties, act with honesty and integrity, and a clear understanding of how your position relates to the company's overall goals.
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.
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