Providing Supervisory Guidance

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Some supervisors believe they have provided guidance for an employee when they have actually issued a warning, reprimand or ultimatum. While all of these have an appropriate place in dealing with employees with behavioral problems, none of them provide effective guidance to enhance employee performance. 

To become more effective in providing supervisory guidance: 

  • Win The Employee's Confidence 
    One way for a supervisor to gain an employee's confidence is to be genuinely interested in what the employee is saying. When you realize you are not really comprehending the subordinate's remarks, you should not put the employee on the spot by cross-examination. Instead, make a comment like, "As I understand it, you are saying . . . ." This technique gives the employee an opportunity to see how he or she is coming across and it offers a chance to clarify any misunderstanding without being put on the defensive. 
  • Don't Talk Over The Heads Of Your Employees 
    Many employees hesitate to ask for clarification. They either try to guess at what you mean or ignore it completely. Consequently, your guidance may be carried out incorrectly. Avoid technical terms and complicated descriptions. By using more common language or by developing "step-by-step" procedures, you can usually provide more helpful guidance with less frustration and fewer errors. 
  • Don't Talk Too Much 
    When someone's attention to what you are saying begins to stray, you are either talking too much or what you are saying is failing to interest the person. Presenting unimportant information or rambling from one subject to another causes listeners to not pay attention. As a result, they may miss the important points you wanted to make. 
  • Don't Explain Too Much 
    Often the person who needs the most guidance is the one who becomes overwhelmed when you do too much explaining. One way to get around this is to provide the guidance in planned and scheduled segments. This way the person has time to think about and understand each part separately. 
  • Don't Assume Your Listener Already Knows Something 
    Problems can evolve from assuming an employee already knows about a subject or an operation. At the same time, it is a waste of effort to endlessly go over something of which he or she is completely aware. The best answer to this situation is to learn just how much the person already knows. Then provide only the amount of guidance necessary for the employee to carry out the job assignment in an effective and efficient manner.