Help Your Supervisors Start 2018 Out Right

By: Peg Ayers


A clean slate. A fresh start. As we remove the plastic wrappings from our new calendars and start neatly recording upcoming events and plans, we’re inspired to make 2018 the best year ever. Our New Year’s Resolutions show the way—if only we’d maintain them past mid-January. Supervisors and managers in your organization are having the same thoughts—they want to make 2018 the best year ever, for themselves and their people. How can you show them the way?

Look Back!

To move forward, we first need to look back. Set aside time to consider 2017. What were the biggest challenges? Where did you and your staff struggle most? What about the goals you had for this year: were they met or exceeded? If not, why not? Were they really the right goals? Did they move your company forward the way you’d hoped?

John C. Maxwell, the author of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and dozens of other leadership bestsellers, says he spends the last two weeks of the year when things are quiet and many people are vacationing, looking back over his calendar for the past year and analyzing where he spent his time.

John sorts his activities into four areas with more than 60% of his time going into Communicating and Creating:

1) Leadership,
2) Creating,
3) Networking and
4) Communicating,
John keeps meticulous notes, and he goes far beyond these high-level categories, down to time spent with individuals, groups, companies, family, traveling and more. He then analyzes whether the time he spent brought the returns he desired and made the best use of his time. He wants to be sure he’s focused on his priorities and truly accomplishing things. Staying busy isn’t an accomplishment—we have to be sure we’re making progress on our top priorities.

This is a habit you can create for yourself and your staff. Spend time at the end of the year looking back at how you spent your time and what you accomplished. Set clear priorities for the new year, and figure out how you’ll carve out time to keep those priorities at the top of the accomplishment list, not just until mid-January, but all year long. A staff planning day is a great way to get everybody’s input on what was achieved or wasn’t and the new year’s priorities, and an individual planning day is useful too. Help your supervisor team find a way to cover for one another so each gets significant year-end reflection time without interruption. If you can do this monthly or quarterly, you will allow your team to reflect and be mindful of how they’re spending their time and what they’re accomplishing throughout the year.

Keep Up!

Whether your records are paper or electronic, they have to be maintained. To properly coach a team, supervisors must know where each person stands in relation to goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). The supervisor has to see patterns and address them with everyone on the team, in the group and individually. If they’re not keeping up with the paperwork, they can’t help team members improve. Paperwork is especially critical when performance issues arise. A poor supervisor may keep poor performers on their team, just because they don’t do the right follow up. Not everyone is cut out to be on the team—you don’t want to keep those who are better suited elsewhere. That’s not a kindness to them, their co-workers, or the company. As Jim Collins famously stated you must get “the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it”

The first of the year is a great time for a fresh start on record keeping. Some centers have automation to help them here, but even low-tech options are worthwhile. To go completely back to basics, you can designate someone to gather individual stats each day and provide them on paper to the supervisor. It’s then up to the supervisor to maintain the appropriate files and watch for patterns and opportunities. A step-up is to put the stats into a spreadsheet, allowing supervisors to see their own teams and patterns of performance and rolling up to the department and company level. Up from there, of course, there are numerous automated and convenient options, some using gamification, going so far as to turn the stats of your entire operation into one big fantasy sports league.

Improvement depends on a clear understanding of goals and priorities, accurate measurement of progress against them throughout the year, and regular coaching on this progress. Remember you can’t manage what you can’t measure.

Give Feedback!

Added to the regular cadence of coaching, written performance evaluations help individual contributors create goals and identify strengths and opportunities in a more formal way. Careful recordkeeping throughout the year makes the reporting aspect of the evaluations a breeze. And regular coaching conversations take the fear and surprise out of the evaluation process. Evaluations are not meant to be a mini-performance review or a one-way street – a report card created without feedback. Discussions should begin with input from the person being evaluated, and the creation of goals should happen in tandem and be based on the priorities of the company and the department, tailored for the individual.

To make each review personal, teach your supervisors the habit of making regular notes on each of their team members, with emphasis on what they’re doing well. Helping a teammate, volunteering for an assignment, earning a customer compliment—anything positive should mean a note to their file, providing ample material to personalize the evaluation and encourage the continued positive behavior.


Keep meeting and coaching times on the schedule if at all possible. It’s easy to cancel meetings when service levels are being missed, but it’s a high price to pay. Giving people time away from the front-lines should bring them back energized and focused on customers. If that’s not happening, it’s time to make a “better meeting” resolution.

Meetings should start with an agenda, respect everyone’s time by beginning and ending on schedule, and conclude with a clear understanding of who will do what by when. Team meetings should be about learning, listening and increasing enthusiasm. They’re not a setting for supervisors to drone on about what people should start or stop doing. Sit in on a few and make sure yours are worth the time. Nothing can improve the brevity of a meeting as taking the chair away. A stand-up format can be very effective for eliminating droning participants.

2018 can be a great year for your supervisors! To help them make it so, make sure they can:

⦁ Look Back!
⦁ Keep Up!
⦁ Give Feedback!
⦁ Connect!

The Taylor Reach Group can help with all of this and much more—contact us today!

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