Successful Supervisor 98 Know Your Purpose

October 21, 2018

It is essential for you to have a purpose for your work other than to put food on the table. We tend to lose sight of the meaning of life if we cannot articulate a clear purpose.

Let me clarify the difference between an individual’s purpose, values, mission and vision so you can appreciate the role that purpose plays for your life.

Purpose tells you WHY you are here

The formal definition of purpose is “something set up as an object to be obtained: intention.” Purpose represents a personal commitment for the highest calling of your being. Without a firm understanding of your purpose, your work loses relevance. The reason you get up and go to work each day is to fulfill your purpose.

It is important to be very specific and concrete with your purpose statement. Try to boil it down into the fewest number of words, so you can communicate it to others succinctly. If possible, I like to think in terms on one article (usually “To”) followed by one verb and one noun.

For my business, my purpose is “To grow leaders.” I believe that is why God put me on this earth and gave me the capabilities that I have.

Values form the FOUNDATION for everything you do

Values allow us to test the rightness of an action or thought. These important concepts about what life is supposed to be like were programmed into us long before we were able to walk and talk. Usually values come from our parents, but they are also shaped over time by other influences such as school, friends, church, experiences and other events that happen early in life.

For most of us, the set of values we obtained in our youth will remain with us the rest of our life. It is difficult to change a deep-seated value, and most people would not want to do so.

Our values form the LENS through which we view everything around us. Values are also highly culturally specific. For example, to bribe another person is not acceptable in some cultures and perfectly fine in others.

It is important to have your values clearly visible to you. Write them down and refer to them often. For best results, repeat daily.

Mission tells you WHAT you are doing now

Mission is important because you need to know exactly what you are trying to do now. It is similar to purpose, but more specific. Think about walking into your place of work and picturing exactly what you are trying to accomplish today. That is your mission. I believe that mission statements should be short and memorable. Let me share what I consider a good mission statement and then share one that is not so good.

Wegmans is a grocery chain that is based in Rochester, N.Y., where I live. Their mission is “Every day you get our best.” That makes a great mission because it tells all of the employees exactly what they are trying to accomplish on a daily basis.

Here is a mission statement that doesn’t work for me. “To establish beneficial business relationships with diverse suppliers who share our commitment to customer service, quality and competitive pricing.” The statement is so general that is gives the reader no idea what industry is involved, let alone the specific company. Actually, that is the mission statement for Denny’s. What? Where is the food?

Vision tells you WHERE you are going

The vision statement is strictly about where you are going in the future. It describes accurately the end state or objective you are working toward. A good vision pulls you in the direction you wish to go. Without a good vision there is little impetus to improve on the status quo.

Some people believe that a vision that has the possibility of not happening sometime in the future is a poor one. I disagree. Consider the early Federal Express Vision: “Absolutely positively overnight.” It is easy to see that there were some times when acts of God would prevent the company from doing this, but that did not make it a bad vision. They made a lasting organization around that compelling image.

Make sure you have these four concepts well documented for your life and your organization too. You will go much farther than you would go otherwise.

This is a part in a series of articles on “Successful Supervision.” The entire series can be viewed on http://www.leadergrow.com/articles/supervision or on this blog.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 500 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763


Successful Supervosir 97 The Myth of Needing More People

October 13, 2018

This article will contain a philosophy that some people will reject out of hand, yet I believe it is generally true, with perhaps a handful of exceptions.

The myth starts when workers and their supervisors are convinced they are being overtaxed and need the assistance of more workers in order to get the work done. This complaint is present in the majority of organizations in which I have worked over the past 30 years.

The irony is that when you listen to supervisors and managers describe conditions for the workers, they readily admit there is a lot of lost time that could be available if conditions were changed.

My own personal estimate is that in the average organization today, companies are getting between 30-50% of the potential that is there in the current workforce. If that estimate is true, then in many organizations the output could be roughly doubled with the current workforce.

The problem is that people are working around the cultural problems and conflicts that exist in any group of people. I contrast this condition with some of the benchmark organizations I have seen where leaders have built a culture of respect and trust.

In those organizations, I believe workers freely contribute nearly 80% of what they can possibly do. That is about the maximum amount people can sustain without experiencing health problems due to burn out.

The antidote for supervisors is to not accept when people complain that they need more bodies around. Instead, seek to engage the existing workforce to a higher degree.

If you build the right kind of culture, there will be a lot less internal friction causing loss of productivity. People will enjoy a higher quality of work life as well, which will make your days (or nights) at work so much more pleasant.

Ask yourself if a better culture in your organization would make for a happier and more productive experience for all levels. Don’t be quick to buy into the notion that we need to dump more bodies into a sick system in order to get the work done. It is just not true in the vast majority of cases.

If you dump more bodies in without resolving the underlying cause of malcontent, then the problem gets worse, not better.

Instead, seek to energize the people you already have by reducing the friction or fighting between people. This action will result in better utilization of current resources and obviate the need to hire more people. Try the following techniques:

Create a common goal

Teams who have a lot of acrimony usually act that way because they lack a common goal that everyone wants. Seek to clarify your vision and paint a picture that is clear enough for all employees to grasp.

Show them how each one of them will be much better off when the vision is achieved. Remind them that they are really on the same team and not in opposing silos.

Get rid of the “we versus they” feelings and create a powerful group that think in terms of “us.” If you are not an expert at making this kind of change, then seek a consultant that can help you.

Document expected behaviors

Work with your employees to establish a set of agreed-upon behaviors that remove the vast majority of acrimony between people. Make sure everyone buys into these behaviors.

Then praise people when they follow the right behaviors. Do not tolerate it when people violate the behaviors. This action may result in actually removing some players from the team.

I have written elsewhere (Addition by Subtraction) about how removing some of the combative people who refuse to cooperate actually makes the work easier for everyone else, and you get a double whammy. You get more work accomplished with fewer people!

In this environment everyone celebrates. The group will recognize that you did not need more people; rather you needed fewer people who are mucking up the works.

Celebrate the Successes

Getting to improved engagement and empowerment can be a long road. Be sure to take time to celebrate the small wins along the way. Let the team marvel in their ability to actually be more productive without killing themselves.

Celebrate creative ideas that pan out to improve the process. Consider failures as learning experiences that help the team move forward. Remind people that they learned to walk only by a lot of falling down and then making corrections.

Mark Joyner teaches a technique he calls “High Impact Minimal Effort or HIME” that encourages people to find ways to improve productivity while minimizing the effort it takes. The idea is to create a mindset that always looks at jobs this way; it becomes a habit that leads to individual and corporate success.

Once you create a culture where people get jazzed about making their own improvements, then you can simply fall into a coaching mode where their own power and ideas will supply the fuel to the engine of productivity.

This is a part in a series of articles on “Successful Supervision.” The entire series can be viewed on http://www.leadergrow.com/articles/supervision or on this blog.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 500 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763


Successful Supervisor 96 Trust is Like a Lubricant for Your Group

October 7, 2018

I have been studying and writing about trust for over 30 years. For supervisors, I thought of an analogy that had not occurred to me before.

Trust acts like a lubricant for your group because everything works better and runs more smoothly when trust is present.

I am a mechanical engineer by training, and I know that lubrication lowers the coefficient of friction which allows machines to run better and not overheat.

Let’s explore this metaphor for the supervisor role, and see how it applies to your everyday life. Here are six ways trust acts like a lubricant.

1. Trust makes communication work better

When people are at odds with one another, they often do a lot of talking but very little deep listening. As the differences of opinion become more apparent, the tone and volume become more heated, just like a shaft would sound if its bearing had gone dry. The scraping and screeching will just get worse until the whole mechanism freezes up.

2. Trust smooths the roughness

People are sometimes not very kind to each other. We can be rather egocentric and usually think about what is best for number one. We can become abrasive, like rough sand paper, when other people advocate something that would not be optimal for us. Trust helps fill in the low spots and smooths out the roughness so people can interface with less friction.

3. Trust helps us find win-win solutions

When people have a difference of opinion, they often dig in their heels, believing that their perspectives are the correct ones. We all wear a button that says “I AM RIGHT.” Trust helps us see that there may be more than one legitimate way to look at an issue, so we have the opportunity to invent creative solutions that work better for both parties.

4. Trust keeps the temperature down

A major function of a lubricant is to lower temperature. The reason mechanical parts overheat without oil is that there is no way to dissipate the heat. Oil in a car engine allows the cylinders to continue their momentum without freezing up. Without oil, a car engine would overheat and seize up quickly, thus destroying the engine. With people, trust wicks off the overheating of emotions and allows people to disagree without being disagreeable.

5. Trust polishes relationships

The bond between people will be very strong and supportive when trust is present. Just as lubrication keeps the oxygen away from surfaces that could tarnish or rust, so trust keeps acrimony from destroying the love and affection people have for each other. When trust is high, personal relationships sparkle just like highly polished metal.

6. Trust acts as a preventive

In the stress of everyday pressures, it is easy to become inflamed, or at least anxious. Trust is a kind of balm that soothes the nerves and allows people to be calm in stressful situations.

Knowing you have my back gives me more confidence that all will be well. Just as we use grease to prevent stored parts from rusting, we can use trust to keep us well mentally.

For a supervisor, if you can achieve high trust, your entire group is going to run smoothly like a finely crafted machine.
The trust provides all of the wonderful properties of a lubricant. Work to develop higher trust within your group.

This is a part in a series of articles on “Successful Supervision.” The entire series can be viewed on http://www.leadergrow.com/articles/supervision or on this blog.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 500 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763


Successful Supervisor 95 Communicating Effectively With Your Employees

September 29, 2018

A major role for all supervisors is to be a conduit of information for their groups. The task of keeping all workers on the same page during constantly evolving conditions is a daunting task. In this article I will share some tips that should prove helpful to keep communications flowing efficiently.

Beware of relying too much on email

I know many supervisors who believe they have communicated information well to their groups once they have sent out an email. They forget that communication has not happened unless everyone in the group has opened, read, and internalized the message correctly. A complex technically-correct email may be opened by most people, but the meaning may go over their heads as they only have time to scan the message for key points or read only the first sentence.

It is important to have a track record of very brief emails that people will not dread opening. Summarizing key points in bullet form at the end of the note may help. I think another helper is to make the text reader friendly. Try to have the signature block appear at the bottom of the first page, so when workers open the note they can see they are looking at the whole message in one glance.

Use multiple exposures to critical data

The 2011 Edelman Trust barometer noted that for people to believe information about the group, they need to have it communicated to them 3-5 times using different modes of communication. If you have a monthly “Town Hall” meeting, that counts as one form of communication, but you will need to present the same information at least two more times before most people are likely to absorb and remember it.

You may have a bulletin Board where you can put up a poster. You might supplement other forms of communications with a voice mail or email summary of the key points. The idea is to not rely on a single point of communication to be sufficient for important information.

Recognize that some people will hear only what they think you were going to say

I found it fascinating when I would circle back after a public meeting to find out what people heard. A significant percentage heard the opposite of what I said because that was their preconceived notion of what I was going to say.

Take the time to verify what people have internalized

To communicate well, make sure you go through a verification step after a major speech or meeting. If only a small percentage of the information was internalized, then you have not communicated well.

Learn to listen better

I have discussed this aspect of communication before in this series. Learn the technique of “reflective listening” and use it whenever you are approached by a person in a highly emotional state. I use the image of putting on my listening hat in these circumstances to remind me to listen with more intensity.

Use stories to embellish your points

People can relate better to information if it is presented along with analogies, stories, or humorous anecdotes. If you just ramble on with dry content and no spice to break up the ideas, people will tune out and look like they are listening when in reality they are checked out thinking about tonight’s dinner menu.

Don’t hypnotize people with too many PowerPoint Slides

Learn to keep PowerPoint presentations short and interesting. The rule is to have no more than seven short points on a slide and to have a pictorial image that relates to the content on each slide. Each bullet should be 7 words or less. Having too much information and no image on a slide will allow people to check out mentally.

Share the stage

Let other people do part of the speaking by artfully designing your content so you can invite other people to present some of it. Also, make your presentations conversational in nature so people will feel free to inject thoughts of their own. In this way you keep the audience engaged in the conversation.

Watch your body language

Recognize that people are constantly reading meaning by looking at how you hold yourself when communicating. They will pick up (at least subconsciously) any hint of duplicity where your words are indicating one point while your body language is sending a different meaning. Have someone in the room who is an expert on body language and have that person debrief every important presentation so you become more of an expert yourself. Body language is critical in communication, and many professionals do not have enough experience to recognize how they are coming across.

One of the most important communication aids is to create a culture of high trust, so people will not be afraid to share a counterpoint. In a high trust culture, people know it is safe to raise an issue and that they will not be punished for it.

Being a supervisor is an extremely challenging role. It requires a mastery of all communication techniques. Use the above points while communicating with your group, and you will be among the elite leaders.

This is a part in a series of articles on “Successful Supervision.” The entire series can be viewed on http://www.leadergrow.com/articles/supervision or on this blog.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 500 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763


Successful Supervisor 94 Knowing When to Leave

September 23, 2018

One of the most vexing issues facing any supervisor is knowing when she is better off leaving a job rather than trying to soldier on in a miserable situation. Of course, the answer is that it depends a lot on the situation and the specific person involved. In this brief article I will share a few observations I have made over the years that may be helpful to some people.

I am not trying to make the decision for supervisors, but rather offering some food for thought that may help guide the analysis. Here are six things to consider while making your decision.

How miserable are you really, and how consistent is it?

If you literally dread going to work each day because of the situations that routinely face you, that is a sign of needed change. If you have tried to make things better using all of your rational powers and patience but nothing has any impact on the problem, you may find a better existence elsewhere. Be careful, because you could be even worse off.

Is the outlook in another organization any better, or might you be even more miserable if you leave and start with a new organization?

Finding a better fit for you is rarely as easy as it seems ahead of time. That is because it is next to impossible to understand the true situation in an organization from the outside. One thing I would do before quitting to go to another entity is to discuss the culture at length with some people living in that culture and performing the supervisor role there.

Don’t be satisfied if you just hear positive things; probe deeply to understand how the supervisor role is supported by upper management. Keep in mind that finding the right “fit” is a matching process where both the person and the organization need to feel well served. Test to be sure you have an excellent fit and an actual job offer in hand before quitting your current position. Do not quit and then go looking for a new position. Remember, the best time to get a job is when you have a job.

Is the source of the problem above you or below you? Or is it you?

If you are getting no support from above and experiencing daily pressure to gain more control, then you could be working for an ogre, but you need to test carefully if the source of the problem is you rather than the boss. One good way to gain some insight is whether most of the people in the organization feel the same as you do. That is often the case, and it signals you are in a no-win situation if you cannot get the boss to change. However, getting the boss to change is a risky path for sure. My favorite quote on this is: “I learned long ago to never wrestle with a pig. You get all dirty, and besides the pig loves it.” (George Bernard Shaw)

If the problem is below you, and you have good support from above, then you can work with the individuals who are being disruptive and also with HR to address the issues. If the effort to change things is unsuccessful, then progressive counseling and perhaps separation can be a solution.

You also need to do some soul searching to find out what percentage of your problem is your own behaviors. In this aspect, it is very difficult to perceive an objective view of the situation without help. I recommend you get a trusted coach or mentor who can help you see yourself from a different angle. This person may be from inside the organization or from outside. It is important to find someone you trust and who will level with you. In some cases, pairing up with a particularly successful peer might be the way to go.

How well honed are your listening skills?

Listening well is a skill that is hard to master when you are in a pressure cooker every day. It is the one communication skill that most supervisors need to improve. If you are not adept at reflective listening, then get some training on that technique and learn to “put on your listening hat” whenever you are dealing with an emotional subordinate, superior, or peer.

Are you highly skilled at Emotional Intelligence?

Most professionals have heard about Emotional Intelligence and think they know what it is and how to use it. I have found that there are very few people who really understand this skill deeply and are getting the mileage out of applying it daily. My favorite book on building this skill is “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Bradberry and Greaves. This book focuses on a brief review of the theory along with many skill building techniques and a road map on how to gain the skills efficiently.

Take time to be human and learn to not be hard on yourself

Being a supervisor is difficult work. The pressure for performance is always in your lap. People will routinely test your resolve and try to push the envelope of what you will tolerate. Make sure to give yourself some outlets for the tension. Get a couple hobbies that you love and surround yourself with people who love you outside of work. Know your hot buttons and also be aware of the internal stress. Have some way to know when you are reaching your limit for stress so you can get some help.

For example, I monitor my blood pressure in the morning every day and have a plot that goes back about 15 years. I know when the pressure of the world is creeping up on me and I can modify things to build in a break when I need it. Some people have a friend or family member who becomes the signal when it appears stress is getting the better of them. You need something or someone to tip you off when things are untenable.

Don’t quit your job just because you are unhappy. Seek to understand the source of your frustration, and work with a coach to make changes in your own behavior to lower the pressure. Quitting is a last resort, and it may be the solution, but there is a finite chance it could lead to even more stress in your life.

This is a part in a series of articles on “Successful Supervision.” The entire series can be viewed on http://www.leadergrow.com/articles/supervision or on this blog.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 500 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763


Successful Supervisor 93 Create Your Own Development Plan

September 15, 2018

If you are an active supervisor, most likely you have discussed a development plan with your manager. A key responsibility of all managers is to document a specific plan to improve the capability of their employees. Included in the plan would be training on things like compliance, ethics, safety, and health, as well as operational concepts like Lean Thinking or Six Sigma.

You need a Personal Development Plan

I recommend that each supervisor also have a plan for personal development that is separate from the corporate plan and contains a different set of concepts. Some possible things to consider might be improving your patience, becoming less judgmental, handling stressful situations, and creating greater team cohesion.

How to develop your Plan

First, identify areas in your own performance where more seasoning would improve your effectiveness. Have a chat with your supervisor to get some additional ideas. There are numerous free resources you can use to develop your plan. There are many YouTube instructional videos on specific skill areas, such as becoming less judgmental. The internet has an infinite supply of articles, and there are many educational periodicals such as “The Harvard Business Review.”

How will having a personal development plan help you?

It is human nature to identify the things that other people need to do to shape up, but it is less easy to see what you must do to improve yourself. Focusing some energy on your own developmental opportunities makes your approach to others more balanced. Having improvement goals helps you focus and be more aware of the direction in which you are moving.

Many supervisors get into a pattern of constantly showing body language that signals the individual workers need to make improvements. That mindset conveniently overlooks the fact that the supervisor needs to improve as well. If you would brainstorm things you need to do in order to be a better manager, it would soften your stance on what other people need to do to be more perfect. Let’s take a specific and classic example to contrast the two modes of operating.

Suppose the supervisor notices that some employees are less respectful of their peers than she would like. One obvious course of action would be to have some team building activities and maybe some reading or videos on treating others respectfully. If that thought pattern dominates her conscious thinking, she may be perceived as being impatient.

If that same supervisor had a personal goal to become less judgmental, then her approach to the workers might be better received. The slight shift to acknowledge that she is not perfect either makes her appear to be more reasonable and helpful. The workers would likely respond positively to the change in body language.

Another approach might be for the supervisor to do some reading or watch some videos on respect to see if she is adequately modeling respect herself. Change starts at the top.

How this process helps your employees and organization

By showing the humility to invest in your own growth, your employees can see a person who has no illusion of being perfect. This attitude will make you more of a human being, and your increasing skills will make both your employees and your organization more effective in the long run. A more cohesive team means less drama, higher trust, and greater productivity for the group. You are also modeling good behaviors for your employees, which increases your credibility as their mentor.

This is a part in a series of articles on “Successful Supervision.” The entire series can be viewed on http://www.leadergrow.com/articles/supervision or on this blog.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 500 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763


Successful Supervisor 92 Avoid Playing Favorites

September 8, 2018

In my blog last week, I shared a bit of information on how to avoid playing favorites. This week I want to go deeper into that aspect of supervision, because it forms one of the most significant pitfalls that leads to loss of trust in any group.

First, we need to recognize that we do have “go to people” for certain jobs. It is literally impossible for any human being to not have people they favor over others based on their skills, track record, or any number of other reasons.

It is the appearance of always playing favorites that really causes the damage to trust, but that fact also contains the seeds of how you can avoid the problem. Simply do things that are not in your normal pattern on rare occasions, and people will stop thinking of you as playing favorites. In fact, I like to use the word when deciding to do something unusual.

How do I know?

How can you tell if you are coming across as playing favorites? Keep in mind, there will be a difference between what you think and what other people might observe. In your own mind you are simply selecting the best person to do the job in each case, but if you always make the same call, then it will eventually come across as playing favorites.

It is not just that the person is doing a good job but also the fact that you are noticing and praising the person more than others that exacerbates the issue.

One good way to detect if people are thinking you are playing favorites is to watch their body language when you make an assignment. Another method is to have a trusted employee who is part of the larger group and simply ask that person if there is a problem. If it looks like there may be an issue, here are some ways you can mitigate the angst.

Ways to reduce the problem

Let’s say I wanted to assign a work chore to someone, but I realize that I have gone to this person the last several times this chore has come up. The best approach is to ask myself if I really need to keep going to this person, or if this situation is a lower risk than usual, so it would be a good opportunity to let someone else have a shot at it.

Suppose in this case I have picked up some grumbling about playing favorites. In explaining why I am suggesting a different person than my usual choice, I could explain that I don’t want to appear to be playing favorites and that I believe it is good to have deeper bench strength in the organization. I could also explain it as part of a greater emphasis on cross training in general.

By actually using the word “favorite” I send a signal that at least I am clueless about how people may be feeling. I project the flexibility to allow others to grow if they are interested. If the job is technically challenging, I might offer to have the person who normally takes this assignment train another employee this time around.

This action reduces the image of an heir apparent and simultaneously adds to bench strength. In this case, I m showing a willingness to let others try provided they are properly trained. Allowing people to volunteer also breaks the stigma of playing favorites.

Another typical way of showing favoritism is when a supervisor does not apply the rules with the same rigor for some individuals. If you let a person show up late with no penalty but do write up another individual for the same problem, you are playing favorites in a very visible way.

I do not advocate that you should treat everybody the same way in all circumstances. That is because people have different needs in certain circumstances. However, when it comes to enforcing rules or other policies, you must treat all employees the same way or you will become known as a supervisor who plays favorites.

In summary, playing favorites is a real trust buster, but you can use the techniques in this article to mitigate any damage and still have the ability to use your “go to person” in cases where it is critical to do so.

This is a part in a series of articles on “Successful Supervision.” The entire series can be viewed on http://www.leadergrow.com/articles/supervision or on this blog.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 500 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763