Caring for Your People: Part of the Boss’s Job

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As I say in the Working Supervisor’s Support Kit, when you’re a boss, you have two jobs. One is to accomplish the mission. The other is to care for your people. The question is: “How do you do that?”

In class, I ask participants to make a list of the things they can do to care for team members. The lists are usually long on things like “support them when they have trouble at home” and short on day-to-day work items.

So the next step is to ask groups to come up with a list of things that they can concentrate on as part of daily work. The following is a summary of what those groups come up with.

Caring for your people means, first of all that you work to keep them safe.  Keep them safe from forces outside the organization that might do them harm.

For many supervisors that comes under the heading of handling customer complaints.  Sure, part of the job of handling those complaints involves keeping the customer happy, but it also includes protecting the person who works for you from an irate customer or from the wrath of those above to whom that customer may complain.

If you handle the customer’s complaint, you can explain things so that your subordinate doesn’t look bad. You can help make it possible for the customer and your subordinate to work together again. 

You can also protect your subordinate from The Powers that Be within your own organization. Part of your job is being the shield that keeps your team members safe from the people above you. 

Caring for your people means helping them grow and develop. You can help them develop skills to keep them out of trouble in the future. You can help them learn things that help them contribute more to the team. You can help them learn things that help achieve their personal objectives.

Finally, caring for your people means creating a great working environment.  Fortunately, we know what that looks like.  Check out my post on 8 Characteristics of Highly Effective Workplaces.

This material is adapted from the workbook that’s part of my Working Supervisor’s Support Kit.

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