I've been a 1st time supervisor in the army budget area for just under a year now. I supervise 6 german and 4 us employees and am the youngest on my team. I've developed a pretty good rapport with my team because i've made the error of wanting to be liked (please stop rolling eyes now). I'm secure in my professional respect in that I have proven I'm strategically if not technically knowledgeable in our business.

This wonderful site has motiviated and excited me to make some changes in my management style and I have composed the below thots into my notes for our next team meeting. However I'm still apprehensive (I've not DISC'd yet but i'm probably a C D I S), and would appreciate any feedback.

Thanks so much.


This has been an exciting year for me as a supervisor. I have watched, participated, asked questions and tried to learn about what you all do. I've come away with a better understanding of your capabilities and expertise as well as a better knowledge of my own strengths and liabilities. I thot that for me to be a good manager I needed to be a good team player. And to be a good team player meant I needed to know how to do your jobs so that in case the ball got dropped I could pick it up and run with it. I've realized that's not true and that mentality has inadvertantly hurt our team. My goal is create a path that will improve upon some core competencies. We have a strong technical base -- a wealth of institutional knowledge that needs to be shared. I want us to maintain professional respect for each other, I want us to have trust with each other through open and honest communication. Not to say there is dishonesty but speaking for myself I tend to avoid conflict. And will ignore something if it makes me unhappy vs addressing it, unless I have a secure base on which to stand on. Over this last year I feel I have built a respect and trusted professional relationship with you all. I would want to know if my boss was unsatisfied with anything I did and I assume you would too. And if you wouldn't, well that's too bad…because I intend to provide better feedback to you all on what you do -- good or bad. But this feedback is not to be about past performance, but about continuing to develop future performance.

Over the last couple months I have given a great deal of thought and done some reading and research in what I need to do to be a more EFFECTIVE manager and how to increase the qualities we already have for our team to grow. So I will be implementing some changes.
O3's: I've decided to start meeting individually with you (and everyone else on the team) on a weekly basis. We'll call these meetings "one-on-ones" . I think this is a great way for us to maintain good, open communication, and continue to build our relationship. We'll be meeting for 30 minutes once a week, at a pre-scheduled (and usually unchanged) time. It will be a private conversation - just you and I. We'll meet at my desk - if you have concerns about privacy, we'll talk about those once we get going. The format of the 30 minutes will always be the same. The first 10 minutes are for YOUR agenda - anything you want to tell me, about anything. Your work, your family, your pets, your hobby, your challenges, your career, our working together. The primary focus of this meeting is going to be YOU. The middle ten minutes are for me, to share whatever I need to with you. We'll probably talk about projects you and I are working on, stuff I need from you, and things I've heard from up above. It will NOT be a team meeting with only one attendee; that is, I'm not just going to give you a ton of stuff to take notes on. The last 10 minutes are for us to talk about the future - your career, training, development, opportunities, etc. If you want to complain, I'm willing to listen. If I'm messing up, I'm ready to hear it. I expect you to deliver it fairly and professionally, and I'll be willing to have a dialog with you. This is not a one time deal. We're not going to do this for a while and then stop. I'm not trying to do this with everyone just to hide talking to one of you. This is my way of getting to know you all better, because the better we know each other, the better work we will do together.
customer focus - We're going to promote our work not just upwards to leadership but sideways, across the organization and develop, tweak existing, and publish products that help tell our story at the customer level.
Idea contributions - For anything to grow it must be continually maintained. Plants need water, light, noursihment and even pruning to grow and so do we. I know not everyone is comfortable with sharing ideas but I want us to figure out a way to do that. Our portal offers a discussion site, similar to a web FORUMS. You can post ideas there or you can email me your ideas to post. This requires a team effort and I don't want to enforce mandatory requirements but want your buy in.

kklogic's picture

Wonderful! Thanks for sharing. Your team is lucky to have a boss who wants to be the best they can.

My suggestion is to change the end of the first paragraph where you talk about feedback. Keep things positive as you have in the rest of your message. Maybe you can state as something like, "As you know, I have a boss too. It's been my experience that the more feedback I receive from her, the better I can do at my job. I don't have to worry if I'm letting her down because she tells me. I also know when I should keep doing something because she finds that work excellent and tells me. To that end, I'm going to focus more on providing feedback to you on a daily basis."

I believe there is a sample email somewhere on this site about what to send to your team when you're getting starting.

Good luck to you. It sounds like you're on the right track.

jemflower's picture

[quote="kklogic"]Your team is lucky to have a boss who wants to be the best they can. It sounds like you're on the right track.[/quote]

What kklogic said :)

One of the best pieces of advice someone gave me was "always be yourself - don't try to be anyone else" and your suggested letter seems to suggest that not only are you comfortable with who you are but you're also willing to "flex" where necessary (and I don't mean, change who you are, I mean communicate).

I'd also agree about stripping out anything that suggests negativity - your overall message is so positive, IMHO there's no need to mention words like "dishonesty" "avoiding conflict", "bad feedback" etc.

Best of luck
jemflower :)

kklogic's picture

I thought of something else. You may want to not talk about feedback at all yet -- for a couple of reasons.

1) If I remember correctly, you shouldn't start feedback until you've done O3s for 30 days. You need to build the relationship so your team is ready to hear feedback.

2) You're asking an awful lot of yourself at once. Feedback is hard. Let yourself succeed at O3s to boost your confidence.

reid2l's picture

First thanks so much for the reassurance. I'm very grateful for the replies and motivation.

Fortunately, my team meeting had to be resched for tomorrow so I haven't shot myself in the foot yet and am going to tweak the negative out, as suggested.

As I've been supervising these employees for over a year now, i'm comfortable that we've built a relationship that includes trust. And while I haven't followed the feedback model, I have been doing the feedback in an on and off fashion but really only to those employees that i'm comfortable with and almost ALWAYs only positive feedback, when i can say good job. Don't get me wrong, I deal with the negative too but I don't think i've dealt with it properly or timely where i'm getting the results i expected. I just would like to apply it in a more concious effort, across the board.

I completely agree with the comments about being yourself. And there are certain leadership traits that are unnatural with my style and i have to work at them to make them fit. But i'm gonna get there now :)


aniinl's picture

Hi Laura,

just read this and have to agree - nice to see a manager who cares so much and educates themselves for the sake of the people reporting to them.

I'm interested to hear how your meeting went today!

Though it's too late now, as a nit-picking high C I'll still let you know the very few minor things that stuck out in your post ;):
- not to mention all the things that the one on one's will NOT be. That's just gonna put ideas in their heads ("post-hypnotic suggestions" ;)).
- instead of "I want" I'd probably have involved them more and asked if they agree that this is a good idea. Everyone would, and if not, you could challenge them for a better suggestion that will also achieve all the things you are trying to achieve.. People like to be asked for their opinion, they like to be part of the decision making, therefore I always ask them (or pretend) even if I already made my decision.
- And the last thing was when you said "in the middle 10 minutes I'll share everything I need to share with you". Sounds better if you say "want to share with you".
OK, feel free to roll your eyes.. ;)

Oh, and in my opinion there's nothing wrong with wanting to be liked as a manager. As long as we recognize the moments/situations when that has to be irrelevant. If we wouldn't want to be liked, we wouldn't care about our teams, would we? Plus, (among other things) people who like their manager are more likely to [i]want [/i]to perform better, I believe.


reid2l's picture

Thanks for asking Anja and thanks for your input. It is appreciated and I am always open to improvements. The meeting was everything I could have hoped for. I opened it by saying I was changing the agenda slightly today. I told them upfront I was a little nervous discussing this because I wanted to speak from my heart about something important and that I had prepared notes that I would share electronically afterward but that I wanted to read them first so they could hear how sincere I was about this.

I got some push back as expected from my local national force. Their first question was what happens after you leave…what happens to all these good ideas when you go? Basically it was ‘what happens to US’? I was sooooo prepared for this one too. And I completely understand where they come from. Managers change in my line of work normally every 2-5 years. I’ve been with them 1 year but with the organization a little over 2 (I was promoted from within) and so they’re thinking my time is soon coming to an end. So I responded that I have no control of what happens after I leave but I have control of when I leave and I will lay that out for you. I told them my extension to 2011 has been approved, but that my husband (he’s military) is due to leave in 2010 and barring any unforeseen circumstances that is as early as we’ll be leaving Europe. So then I said let me explain my loyalty to this office I have now. We all get upset from time to time with our jobs and lately especially so. My boss is currently being treated for cancer and it is naturally creating a lot of stress and pressure on everyone around her. We planned as a workforce and did our best to prepare, but really what can you do, except be there, listen, and cover down? I explained that I suspect work is the only thing in my boss’ life right now that she feels she can control and I can empathize with that. I have too much respect for what my boss has done in the past. So yes, while I have been frustrated with work and it drives me to sometimes look at other job openings, I will not abandon ship – that is not in my nature. I said I share this stress with you because you can help me provide my boss with the reassurances she needs so she feels connected and informed while she’s so often out of the office.

After that they really opened up. They all knew she was ill and being treated but they really had no idea of the impact it was having on me. They thanked me for sharing that, said it explained a lot, and were committed to ensuring we, as a team, solved this problem. We talked a few minutes more about my ‘ideas’ idea and they liked that too and I told them I would restructure the last 10 minutes of our staff meeting to go over brainstorming sessions. Then we got back into normal mode of giving status of latest projects and wrapped up. I sent out the o3 scheduling email afterwards and will begin those next week.

My only dilemma is I had a reoccurring late arrival to the meeting, of who I have not yet given feedback too. So this morning I want to go in and ask if we can talk and explain that when he shows up late, the rest of the team feels disrespected, I feel taken advantage of and resentful afterwards that I have to take time to catch you up. So what can you do about it? But I don’t think I have the impact quite right…sounds too emotional to me (and I am emotional) so I’m trying to think more of what the physical impact is.

aniinl's picture

Wow, Laura, well done!! Sounds like all your preparation paid off and you really won them over!

It's really amazing what a difference it can make, when the managers show their "human" side some times. That's not to say that we're not human :) but normally you remain professional and strong and you don't show what things are bugging you, in order to keep the business running. So when you do let your guard down, I think the team's respect for you grows so much, because they realize how things have been effecting you as well (while they thought they were the only ones suffering) and how strong you remained despite all this.

Maybe this late comer of yours also has some stress going on right now, that makes him arrive late, repeatedly? Maybe this could be your first question, to show him concern about [i]him[/i]. He might not expect that. If there's nothing major going on, I would ask him how he would feel if other members of the team would always arrive late; he certainly would want you to do something about it, before it causes friction in the team, wouldn't he? Plus, his late arrival causes delays in your agenda etc..
So this way, you emphazise the emotional part on his well being and the team's, and you just add (unemotionally ;)) that he's disturbing and delaying things..

Does he let you know that he will be late, and why? When I had trouble with this in my team, I asked them to call me or text me whenever they will be late. The reason being that I have to know where my team is. If the big boss walks through the office in the morning and it's empty (OK, or certain people are missing) I have to be able to tell him where everyone is, otherwise it makes me look unprofessional. This is something they understand because they don't want to cause you any trouble, and probably they'll get tired of sending texts (and spending money) so they'll stop it soon... Plus with the texts you are creating a record, that you can "use against them" as proof for how many times they have been late. Funnily enough, some people don't realize that they are late or play it down.

Anja :)

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="reid2l"]My only dilemma is I had a reoccurring late arrival to the meeting, of who I have not yet given feedback too. So this morning I want to go in and ask if we can talk and explain that when he shows up late, the rest of the team feels disrespected, I feel taken advantage of and resentful afterwards that I have to take time to catch you up. So what can you do about it? But I don’t think I have the impact quite right…sounds too emotional to me (and I am emotional) so I’m trying to think more of what the physical impact is.[/quote]

Whilst I mostly agree with Aniinl's comments about finding out why, I think that works for occasional sporadic lateness only (anyone can be late once in a while due to being caught in traffic, phone call they couldn't drop &c). If there is something that's causing regular lateness it's the direct's duty to tell you in advance.

Do you have any thought's on this direct's DISC type? There's some useful information on DISC attached to the [url=]Feedback cast[/url], if you're not familiar with it. I'd suggest giving the direct feedback in the model defined in the cast, ideally tailored to their DISC type. There are also podcasts that specifically address dealing with people in each major DISC type (look in the page for [url=]podcasts in the DISC category[/url]) so once you have a good idea what their type is it might be worth having a listen to the appropriate cast(s) or, if you are a premium subscriber, reading the transcript(s). Then, give them the feedback. If they push back with a reason why they're late, ask them what they can do about that and, if appropriate, how you can help them to address that. It could be part of their ongoing coaching.


joshmartin's picture

In today's generation, managing others take specific facets of personality, presentation and experience to do well.  However, it is instructive simply knowing what not to do. Here are some of the most frequent blunders supervisors make, wringing every drop of malaise and agony from what should be a lively, collaborative office as well as some ideas for making things right.