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How to support your supervisor.

How to support your supervisor

"The supervisor wants to see you." While some hear that statement as a simple request, it strikes fear in the hearts of others. How each employee responds to this message depends on his or her relationship with the supervisor.

At any given point in our careers, most of us owe our professional success and daily well-being to the person to whom we report. In labs, that may mean a first-line supervisor, a manager, or a pathologist. Studies have shown that people are fired less for incompetence or violating rules than for losing the confidence of their immediate supervisors. Having the boss's support is critical if a person wishes to advance within the organization or attain a better situation elsewhere.

Why then do some people wreck their relationship with their supervisors? Many resent being supervised by someone they feel has less of a grasp of the organization's needs than they do. Such employees may, however, simply not understand the supervisor's role in the organization.

Outlined below are tips to help you deal with your authority figure on the job: * Make your boss's priorities your priorities. Some of your assignments take the form of direct orders. More often than not, though, you must read between the lines to determine what tasks are important to your boss. Once you figure out what these are, make them a high priority on your "to do" list.

This situation frequently becomes a point of contention when the boss is new to the organization. Staff members often fail to pick up on a task or concept that the new boss feels is important. "That's not how we did it in the past" are words new supervisors don't like to hear too often. * Private advice/public support. Good supervisors don't want to surround themselves with people who agree with everything and are afraid to offer a dissenting opinion. In the ideal environment, employees feel free to speak their minds when they disagree with the boss. Once the person in charge has made a decision, however, employees should act on it promptly. Nothing can undermine a boss-employee relationship faster than the impression of disloyalty. * Empathy. By the nature of their position, most supervisors are not privy to the big picture that affects the decisions facing the boss. When requesting additional personnel to meet increased workload, for example, your immediate superior must be keenly aware of long-range plans and any budget constraints that might affect the decision. Put yourself in the boss's position. Accept the fact that you will not always agree. * Solutions. One of the most tedious tasks any supervisor must perform is to sit behind a desk and listen to an employee's complaints. How refreshing it is when someone not only describes a problem but also presents several possible solutions. I can't think of a better way to endear yourself to your boss than to offer assistance in the decision-making process. * Load-lightening. Many times employees sense when the boss is overwhelmed with work. The burden will ultimately affect the staff's productivity by making the supervisor less available and delaying decision making. On such occasions, suggest that the boss delegate certain tasks to you. Accepting additional duties will not only place you in a good light but also help your boss become more efficient. If you do a good job, this will provide a fine vehicle to demonstrate your abilities. * Speed. Don't procrastinate. Keep in mind that a task your supervisor assigns to you is most likely part of a larger project that he or she is responsible for--so do it promptly. If unavoidable delays occur, give your boss frequent updates of the project's status to show that you are striving to complete it on time.

Most bosses don't demand (or even want) blind loyalty. They don't expect their employees to carry out their every wish. Nor do they wish to work with a disloyal troop who must be prodded or coerced to meet the smallest request. Make your "working relationship" literally that: a professional connection that enables and encourages the staff and the supervisor to work together with an understanding of each other's needs and constraints.

James M. Maratea, M.A. MLO CONTRIBUTING EDITOR The author is administrator of the clinical laboratories at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, Pa.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Maratea, James M.
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:column
Date:Mar 1, 1990
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