How can I help you get your work done?
That is a good question I have never heard from a work supervisor or administrator. A similar question would be: How can I help you do your best work?
The absence of this question is a shame because asking it might lead to ways the organization can function better. For instance, a supervisor might learn to give clearer instructions or to allow more autonomy.
Almost no individuals in powerful positions ask that simple question. What stops them?
I will give a few reasons, which might vary from supervisor to supervisor.
- Most supervisors have received essentially no training in supervising. You can blame the organization, schools, or universities. Not many supervisors study management methods.
- Most supervisors have risen to their position by doing diligent work and following organizational rules. They have not shown the ability to lead.
- Many supervisors do not want to ask this obvious question because they don’t want to be burdened with the problems their subordinates experience — problems the supervisor may be powerless to solve. Individuals do not become supervisors in order to feel powerless.
- Individuals take administrative jobs to (a) leave a unpleasant role, (b) exert power over others and make decisions, (c) make more money, (d) have more control over their work life, (e) do more interesting work, (f) have higher status, or (g) have more influence in the organization. Most of these goals do not relate to helping employees get their work done.
So the onus may be on employees to tell their supervisor the answer to the question even though it is not asked. How could your supervisor help you get your work done?