Play 6 - Be human; bring your authentic self to work, and get to know the story of others
All too often supervisors behave and operate in ways that seem counter-intuitive, counter-productive, and most definitely not how someone would act under “normal” circumstances. This can manifest as failing to apologize after mistakes are made, failing to acknowledge the team's efforts when sharing information with senior leadership or the organization as a whole, or channeling pressure coming from above down to the team rather than managing it effectively.
Furthermore, world events such as the coronavirus pandemic, hate crimes, mass shootings, geo-political disruptions, economic instability, and more will weigh heavily on you and your team members, and in different ways. In short, being a supervisor is hard, and the role can have adverse effects on individuals as human beings when the pressures of life and world events come into the mix. However, as a supervisor you are still a human being, not an automaton, and the same goes for your team members.
You have good days, you have bad days, and so does your team. Allow for this! The important thing is that you recognize it and work with it, not fight against it. Emotions are always involved, as are interpersonal politics, but it ultimately comes down to the relationships you foster with others. Strong relationships are built on a foundation of communication and trust, promulgated within a space of psychological safety that values respect and empathy for others.
One of the most impactful ways this can be accomplished is to bring your authentic self to work. This means exhibiting vulnerable leadership, and letting folks get to truly know you as a person by allowing folks to understand what motivates and captivates you, what’s important to you, and what generally makes you who you are without burdening them.
Above all, make it a top priority to take care of yourself and take care of your team. If you’re not feeling well or able to bring your best self on a given day, seriously consider taking the day off (especially when you are actively sick!). Encourage others to do the same and support them in doing so to cultivate a healthy culture of self-care. Actions like this will go a long way in promoting a healthy environment where folks can thrive as human beings and know that it’s okay to sometimes not be okay!
- During your routine 1:1s, ask how people are. Check in on how they are generally feeling (satisfied? Burned out?) Practice active listening, demonstrating a genuine curiosity and interest in what they share.
- Review agendas for the team meetings you lead. How have you created space for interpersonal connection?
Review your calendar and general meeting hygiene. Are there practices that help you maintain energy throughout the day? You might benefit from:
- Shortening the default length of your meetings in Google Calendar, so that they are 25/50 minutes, instead of 30/60. This gives you short breaks between events.
- Blocking out focus times throughout the week, where you aren’t checking email or Slack during that time block.
Play 6 Reflection Questions
- How will you create an open, safe space for people to ask you questions in a non-threatening way? In other words, how will you promote psychological safety, which also includes listening and encouraging team members to be honest?
- How have you shown your team that you care about them during times of difficulty (e.g. working through a pandemic, death of a team member)?
Play 6 Case Studies
- You typically have a good relationship with your team and it is atypical of you to lose your cool. An important team meeting is scheduled and you learn some unfavorable information during that meeting. You raise your voice at several team members. How do you mitigate this situation with your team?
- The team you now lead has been working from home for roughly two and a half years. A few of the team members come to you to express that they are ready to return to the office. You are completely against the idea of returning to the office, namely because you believe returning to the office may impact your mental health. What factors will you take into consideration? How will you respond to the team who wants to return to the office and your other team members?