A number of years ago, I attended a workshop on management and supervision. The presenter started the session with this question, “A show of hands. How many of you think that you supervise people?” A lot of hands went up. The presenter then drew a large circle on the easel pad and responded, “No, you don’t supervise people. Your primary role is to create, maintain and foster a work environment that enables people to be a success. It’s your responsibility to identify what needs to be in the work environment (the circle) that will enable people to be a success. And, it all starts with YOU.”
There was not total agreement among the participants. Ever since that experience, I have been a believer in what the presenter said that day.
Let’s put this concept in a family unit. In practice, what my wife and I did as parents was to create, maintain and foster a family environment that enabled our children to grow up and be successful adults. How does one define successful adults? Here are just a few traits: Engaged citizens, show compassion and caring for others, question conventional ways of doing things, are respectful and honest, self-responsibility and loving. Throughout their 18 years living at home, it was our job as parents to create, maintain and foster a family environment that taught our children those traits, and it all started with my wife and me.
The same is true in the workplace. Managers and supervisors have to define what success means, and then put in place traits, values and systems that will enable people to be a success. One way to define success is that people inculcate the organization’s values and strive in their work to accomplish the organization’s reason for existence, i.e., its purpose.
When I work with managers and supervisors, I invariably start off with this presenter’s question. Then, they start to fill in the circle and relate to whatever they are learning back to their circle. The work environment, the circle, becomes a powerful focus that enables them to see the big picture of what and why they are doing, and how everything and everyone is connected.