It’s ironic that we are talking about “blind” spots, because the root word of supervisors is VIS which means to SEE. Adding “super” as the prefix, it simply means to “oversee”. Overseeing the employees is one of the main jobs of the supervisor. This isn’t something that you do from an office, hiding behind a computer and endless paperwork. Rather, it is something that you do by being active and intentional - building relationships with your employees. If a supervisor isn’t actively engaged with their employees, these blindspots will reveal themselves. When the blindspots become active in your supervisor, conflict, drama, and politics will rule your team.
APATHY. This is about attitude: “I see but I don’t care.”
Think about a rebellious teenager who dismisses the parent. It’s that type of apathetic attitude that dismisses conflict because the supervisor feels that it doesn’t affect them. It doesn’t matter to them. Unchecked, this type of attitude will cause your employees to reciprocate in the way that they care about each other, production and quality.
COMPLACENCY. This is about mindset: “I see but I can’t do anything about it.”
This blind spot occurs when supervisors see things going on in their teams, and in their minds feel like “I can’t change it, so why get involved.” When a supervisor has the mindset that they are powerless, they focus on their own rhythm. Tunnel vision occurs. They are so focused on their path forward, that they can’t see what is happening around them OR they see it, but just LET IT GO. They stay focused on the job. When complacency sets in, injuries, a decrease in quality and claims of mismanagement and harassment can occur.
FEAR/ANXIETY. This is about emotion: “I see, but I will run the other way.”
Oftentimes, supervisors have the difficult job of being the one caught in the middle. They see an inappropriate situation occur, and because they are afraid of how it will affect them personally if they were to get involved, they decide to run in the other direction. Not only do they feel powerless to make the change, as in complacency, but they feel that there will be personal repercussions for doing so.
So, how do you eliminate these blindspots in your supervisors and managers?
1. Support them when they report by taking immediate action.
2. Actively listen to them and resource them when they need assistance.
3. Don’t engage your own blindspots, but engage your supervisor to find solutions.
4. Call out their blindspots when supervisors aren’t actively engaged with their employees.
5. Model trust with them in front of employees. Don’t undermine the authority and responsibility you’ve given them.
6. Cast a clear vision, clarify by communicating, and eliminate obstacles for them.
Partnering with your supervisors helps them see the vision clearly, prioritizes their activity and helps them engage with your employees in a productive manner. You too, can have blindspots so hold each other accountable to behaviors that are not helping you reach your collective goals. Supporting your supervisors in having an active, clear, 20/20 vision for your employees will result in a fully engaged workforce.
Pam Pippin, DISC Certified Human Resources Professional
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