New Year, New You

Nora Akins

“This year I’ll be a better supervisor, really get to know my staff; maybe even read the handbook.” Sound familiar? If you are planning on changing your behavior, be fair and let your staff know your plans.

The New Year is the perfect time to establish new expectations. If your new expectations include changing the way you manage, let your team in on it. If you plan to stick to the rules in 2017 or emphasize teamwork, let people know and establish when the new clock starts. It is not fair to change the way you are going to look at your workplace until everyone knows the rules have changed. Likewise, if your new view of the rules starts Jan. 1, you cannot enforce what happened last year. Everyone gets a fresh start and a heads up.

Gather your staff to let them in on your New Year’s goals. Let them know why you decided to change your behavior and what outcome you are attempting to achieve. This is a great opportunity to get to know your employees better, too. If you don’t already know their full names, their significant others’ and their children’s names, then meet with your staff individually and learn about them first. If you do know that much, have employees come to your New Year’s Resolution meeting and invite them to share their 2017 goals. Do not require they share, just invite. You may learn a lot!

The first step to being a better supervisor is to be respectful of others, to treat others as you want to be treated. That does not mean to let people get away without accomplishing their responsibilities. It means to treat people as people, as adults. 

Talk to people, not about them. Acknowledge people. You really do have enough time to say, “Hi” as you pass someone in a hall.

Say “Thank You.” There is evidence that appreciating effort goes a lot farther than appreciating accomplishments. Effort is personal.

Remember you are a role model. You determine how high the bar is for respect, courtesy and work performance. If you don’t follow the rules, then do not try to enforce them. In fact, you are exposing your company to legal liability when you don’t follow or enforce the rules. It’s more than your integrity at stake.

Employees want you to enforce the rules. Rules that are not enforced are confusing. It is a lot to keep track of when some rules are enforced and others are not or when some supervisors are strict and others are lenient. Not only do wishy-washy rules lower the performance bar, they create more legal liability. And the employees who follow the rules leave or become disgruntled and performance declines. 

OK, so you tried and you reverted back to your old habits. When you recognize it, admit it. Admit it openly and demonstrate you are human. Of course, wait until you have a game plan to get back on track before you admit openly. The playing field changed and you are planning to change it again; let people know.

Want to be a better supervisor? Be respectful, get to know your employees, follow and consistently enforce the rules and let your staff know when the playing field changes.

Nora T. Akins, owner of Strategic Management focuses on employer compliance and employee performance by providing management training and refining human resource systems. She can be reached at 873-1735 or

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