Supervising

I have been a supervisor for most of the time I have had a full time job. Overall, I enjoy the added responsibility and mentoring aspects of supervision, but as with anything, there are always positives and negatives.

I will begin with the negatives and get them out of the way, so I can then move on to the great aspects of being a supervisor.

Negatives

  • The Hiring Process
    • Depending on when you work, the actual process of hiring an employee can be drastically different. However, in most public-state run-academic settings the process is long because of all the oversight needed to hire a state employee. Forming the search committee, drafting the job ad, getting the ad approved, posting the ad, reading applications, deciding on who to interview, getting the interviewees approved, conducting the interviews, deciding on who to hire, getting the hire approved, drafting the offer letter, getting the offer letter approved, sending off and receiving back the signed offer letter, and finally beginning the on-boarding process. This list does not even include some of the smaller tasks done by a search committee or the committee chair. I do understand that some of these steps are needed, but all of the back and forth really slows down an already slow process.
  • The Paperwork
    • The term “paperwork” is a bit antiquated at my institution because most of the hiring process is now completed online and through electronic forms. However, the systems in place here and I am sure elsewhere tend to mimic the older paper processes instead of possibly adapting to the newer technology. While I have no real suggestions or solutions to these issues, I think the process overall could be looked at, assessed, and simplified.
  • Discipline
    • I won’t say much on this topic other than instituting disciplinary action can be one of the worst things a supervisor has to do. Personally, I have had really good employees so far and have never needed to reprimand them, but I have attended enough trainings and heard enough stories to know that it is extremely hard. Not only do you have to follow all of the steps set out by Human Resources, you also have to make sure the employee will not resent you afterward and will want to improve and continue working.

Positives

  • Mentoring
    • While I personally enjoy the small tasks of approving time and signing leave forms (I am a nerd), I truly think the best part of supervising is mentoring. Supervisors naturally know the employee’s job inside and out and will be doing the majority of the training when that employee is new. However, supervisors should also listen to that employee’s ideas and suggestions as they learn their tasks and the culture of the office because there could be a new way of thinking or a new way of working that could greatly improve the job. My definition of mentoring in the simplest sense is two people learning from each other. This means that a supervisor needs to give their employee knowledge and room to grow, but they also need to listen and learn from their employee because that person will have different experiences and a different take on the job. No two people are alike and keeping an open mind will allow both the supervisor and the employee to better work together.

Now, I know there are three points under negatives and only one under positives, but I think successful mentoring far outweighs all of the negative aspects of supervising. Having a great mentor/mentee relationship can be difficult in its own right, but if supervisor and employee work at it, the outcomes will make for a much more productive and happy work environment.

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