Don’t Supervise — Meta-Supervise!

Management is supervision for grown-ups.

Childish behavior,
Is easier to see,
Than those expecting it.

Here’s one crazy idea that has the power to change an entire company: no adult should need supervision.

I’ll explain. Let’s define supervision this way: Ensuring somebody who already knows what to do, actually does it right.

Management on the other hand, we can define as supporting people to grow and learn in ways they don’t already know.

Management good. Supervision bad.

I know this is a little black and white, because often both are happening, but bear with me.

Nobody likes supervision, on either end. It feels like babysitting, or micromanaging– you intuitively know there’s something wrong with it.

Because there is.

Try this on. When you supervise, you treat an employee like a child. You know, “Adult supervision required”? The employee already knows how to do something, but they act like they don’t or you act like they don’t, so you watch them excessively. Counterintuitively, this rewards the incompetent behavior. So why do people do it?

The manager gets to feel needed as a boss and stay in control (even be the hero), and the employee never has to be completely responsible–because if they mess up, the boss comes to the rescue. They don’t have to change. You’re their insurance.

This is the dynamic that innocently dominates most workplaces without anyone realizing it. I’ve seen it hundreds of times. It is very often the single root of every business problem. Sound too simple? It took me fifteen years to be able to see it this clearly, and maybe now you can too.

It’s a convenient arrangement, except that it creates disengagement, stunts employee growth, rewards incompetence, wastes management resources, and attracts and retains only the B players on your team. Yep, it’s bad.

So how do you fix this? It’s exactly the topic for training in the Clear and Open Weekly Webcasts this month. I call it Meta-Supervision: it means that when you have to supervise someone, you name that you’re doing it, with the intention of it ending one day. That’s good management. That way, you and your employee can work together to find the cause and the solution.

Management With The End of Supervision In Mind

Here’s an easy first step to put this to work. If you manage people, ask yourself where you’re having to supervise. Make a list of activities you can’t trust will go well without you, then start having frank conversations with your people that begin with, “So what would have to happen for X to happen without me being involved?”

If you don’t manage people, impress your boss by asking them, “In what ways do you feel like you have to look over my shoulder, and what can we do to eliminate that?”

Want to learn more about Meta-Supervision and how to make everyone’s life at work easier? Try a month as a Clear and Open Member and learn management without the supervision. You have my money-back guarantee you’ll find it valuable.

Now, are you going to give it a try, or do you need a reminder next week? :-)

ABOUT JOSEF SHAPIRO

Josef Shapiro is a voice for excellence and extraordinary results in the coaching industry.

Trained first at EMyth in 2002, one of the pioneers of business coaching in the 1970s, he later joined its management team and led EMyth’s program development. He created their coach training program and trained coaches worldwide for several years.
 
 Clear and Open is a collection of powerful online courses and real-time mentoring for professionals passionate about productivity, culture change, and business growth. Josef is a coach, mentor, and trainer for serious, driven leaders and managers who hold learning as a way of life and excellence as an intrinsic value. To learn more, and to sign up for a free, time-saving mini-course, please visit clearandopen.com