Recently, I got to thinking about what a list of helpful tips would look like for a new senior living supervisor.

By Steve Moran

About a year ago I received a call from my daughter who works for a wholesale automobile auction company telling me that she had been offered a supervisor position managing a team of 4 people. She was excited and a bit scared, not being 100% sure she could actually manage other people.  

Because I know her well and knew she was worried about doing a good job, I had no doubt that she would thrive in the new position. We spend some time talking about what it takes to be a good manager of people. I have been proven right in my belief because she is being offered another promotion to manage a much bigger team.

Then more recently I came across a blog article at HR Bartender titled 10 Tips For First-Time Supervisors and forwarded that blog post to her. I got to thinking about what that list of 10 would be for a new senior living supervisor.  Here is my take:

  1. Your number one job is to make your team members successful  —  Everything you do or don’t do should be wrapped in this question: Will it make my team more effective/more successful at what they do?

  1. Your number two job is to make them like you  —  I am not talking about being best buddies, but rather I want them to say about you, “She is a great boss to work for.” This is different than respect. It is possible to have team members respect you and dislike you at the same time. They will not give you their very best.

    The best way to do this is to catch your team members doing meaningful things.

  1. Teach Don’t Tell —  It is so easy to tell people what to do or how to do something and then expect them to do it right. Learning new things is hard. See this role as a teacher not a commander.  

  1. Make Them Figure Things Out —  It is fun to be the expert. It feels good when someone comes to you and says . . . I have this problem _____________________, what should I do? If you give them the answer, they will become totally dependent on you. Help them work out solutions, themselves.

    This might even mean that you will let them do things differently than you would do them.  

  1. Be Compassionate —  Life is not easy for anyone all the time. Stuff happens and when stuff happens it gets in the way of work. You need to have a great deal of grace in helping your team members through rough spots.

  1. Fire Ruthlessly  —  If you have a team member who is not performing adequately and is not getting better, let them go sooner than later. As important . . . maybe even more important . . . when you have someone who is really good at their job but is a nasty person, they are poison that will do great damage. Being great at a job is not a good enough reason to keep someone . . . EVER!

  1. Be Honest  —  No one likes being told they are doing something wrong. It is probably even harder to tell a team member they are doing something wrong. If you are not willing to confront a problem, the problem will get worse. It is unfair to let someone keep doing something wrong because you are afraid to confront. It is unfair to other team members and it is unfair to that person.

  1. Be Fair . . . Sort Of —  This ties into #5. You need to keep the big picture goal in mind when working with people. Sometimes doing the fair thing is not really the right thing to do. A single for instance: The fair thing to do would be to promote the team member with the longest tenure. This may not be the right thing to do.

  1. Never Believe a New Policy or Procedure Will Make Anything Better  —  When something goes wrong, there is a tendency to think that a new rule, a new policy, a new procedure will make things better. This simply is not true. Deal with the problem at hand.

    If the problem continues to recur with multiple people only then think about a new policy or procedure.

  1. Ask for Critical Feedback  —  This should be obvious. We all like positive feedback best. The problem is that it does not improve how we do our jobs. That hard thing your team member tells you will make you a better leader.

  1. Always Learn  —  As I knock around the senior living sector it is clear there are a lot of people who don’t take the time to learn new things. Read leadership books and blogs. Spend time getting to know great leaders.

What other things would you add to this list?