First line leaders have a vital responsibility in translating the lofty values of their organization’s vision into day-to-day work life. Some groups respond enthusiastically to opportunities to further the mission; others react with indifference or even resistance. Dealing with such challenges is central to supervisors’ roles. It’s what they’ve signed up to do. But that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t appreciate some help.
Three things that first line supervisors would appreciate from those in middle and upper management:
- Clarity. Lofty words are rarely specific. For example, “excellence” can take a variety of meanings. In some contexts it means high quality regardless of price; in other contexts it means efficient. Explicit policies and practices on ways senior management measures excellence.
- Latitude. While supervisors appreciate the focus that comes with clarity, they also thrive on having sufficient latitude in applying an initiative to their domain.
- Follow Through. From the perspective of first-line managers, executives appear to become easily enamored of management fads or restructurings. A little bit of this sort of thing goes a long way. For supervisors, follow through means (a) establishing a clear link of a management innovation with core mission, and (b) see the process through before shifting to a different new idea.
Now, the resulting challenge for first-line managers is how to get these three points across to your executives?