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A defendant was on trial for murder. There was strong evidence indicating his guilt, but there was no corpse. In his closing statement, the defense attorney decided that he had a foolproof way to ensure a verdict in favor of his client. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” he said. “I have a surprise for you. Within one minute, the person that everyone thinks is dead will walk into this courtroom.”

He looked toward the courtroom door. The jurors were all stunned, and they sat transfixed, staring at the door. After a long minute, nothing happened. Finally, the lawyer said, “Actually, I made it all up about the dead man walking in. But you all looked at the door with anticipation. So, that means you had reasonable doubt about the victim being killed and if there is reasonable doubt, then you have to come back with a verdict of ‘not guilty.’”

When the jury came back after a short deliberation, they said “guilty.”

“What!” exclaimed the lawyer. “You couldn’t arrive at that conclusion if you had any reasonable doubt and I saw all of you stare at the door, which showed that you had reasonable doubt.”

“You’re right,” said the jury foreman. “You looked at the door and we looked at the door, but your client didn’t.”

Whatever your specific situation in service management and supervision, you’re facing some challenges, (among them being the person responsible for making sure that everybody you supervise knows what they’re supposed to do in any given situation) and you need to know how to meet those challenges. So here you are….

You’ve always kept a good work ethic, strived to keep learning, dedicated yourself to doing your job in the best way possible, and you’ve been promoted. You’ve made the decision to take on your new responsibilities because that’s the way you move up the income ladder, the way you keep moving ahead in your career.

Or, maybe you’re not exactly brand new at this management thing and you’re looking for information on how to do your job or manage your business more effectively than you have in the past.

And sometimes there are things you need to know and consider that are, well, not exactly comforting to know or consider when it comes to supervision, but, as they sometimes say in Texas… “If you have to swallow a bucket of frogs, you might as well get the biggest one done first.” So, here is some of that less than comforting stuff.

Some Hard Facts About Service Management/Supervision….

…Management is not a popularity contest.

…Management is not easy. That’s why many people either don’t do it well, or don’t do it at all.

…Often, the biggest personal challenges we face as supervisors is overcoming fears…. the fear of change, the fear of failure, and the fear of not having complete control over our lives.

…The only real “job security” we have is our knowledge and skills.

…A supervisor’s best protection against lawsuits (yes, you hate the idea of having to deal with this issue, but you know you might have to sometime) is knowing the right thing to do and doing it consistently. 73% of employee versus employer lawsuits are won by the employee and the amount awarded can often be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

…15% of your success as a supervisor is related to your technical skills.

…85% of your success as a supervisor is related to your people skills.

…People in a work environment don’t want to be managed. People want a leader, and a leader must lead by example. (No, you won’t be perfect all the time and you can be sure you’ll be reminded when you’re not, so just accept that.)

…It takes more than a desire to make more money or advance in your career to be an effective supervisor. It takes dedication, hard work, being open to constant self-examination, and a willingness to consider what everyone, whether you report to them or whether they report to you, has to offer in the way of advice, suggestions, and criticisms.

And the hardest fact of all…

…A service manager/supervisor has to be confident enough to gamble on their belief in their skills and abilities.

Think we went too far with that last statement? We don’t think so, at least from the pure perspective of an effective supervisor.

FACT: Supervisors are people who decide things. Sometimes they decide right, and sometimes they decide wrong, but they decide. And when you look at it from that simplistic perspective, it means that every time you decide, there’s risk involved. It might be a low-level risk with an easy fix, or it might be a high-level risk, which means that, at some point in your career, there might be a situation in which you have to be confident enough to gamble on your belief in yourself.

We don’t for a moment mean to insinuate that it’s like gambling in a casino where the odds of the success of the house are heavily weighed against your success. We mean calculated risks. And calculated risks, while still a risk, are undertaken with skills as a support system. And there are 10 skills that will allow you to deal effectively with the hard facts we mentioned…. and allow you to take calculated risks. Here they are:

  1. Leadership
  2. Hiring wisely, retaining the best, and when necessary, sucking it up and firing the worst
  3. Delegating
  4. Time management
  5. Building effective teams
  6. Coaching effectively
  7. Dealing effectively with negativity
  8. Crises management
  9. Setting goals
  10. Developing your career through life-long learning

You’ll likely agree that the skills we’ve listed (along with a few others you can probably think of) are necessary for effective supervision and service management, and while it’s easy to think “easier said than done” when considering a list like this at its face value, there’s a simple, yet important point we want to make about understanding the process of developing the above-mentioned skills. There’s an underlying philosophy to succeeding at it, and it’s simple.

Some people may harbor the belief that that it’s difficult accepting responsibilities, that some people just “aren’t cut out” to take on the challenges of accepting responsibility. But here’s a simple way to think about it. Anyone who thinks that accepting responsibility is difficult or complicated, needs to consider how much responsibility they accept every time they get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Everyone who drives accepts the responsibility to do several things simultaneously and do them just right all the time. And the bottom line on driving is that if someone isn’t simultaneously doing all the things it takes to drive a vehicle, and doing them just right consistently, the result is disaster.

So, if you’re one of the approximately 95% of the population who regularly engages in driving, you’re already on your way to developing the necessary skills to achieve excellence in service management.