Smart Supervising Strategies To Lead Your Team to Success

Being a business owner, a project manager, or a department head is both rewarding and challenging. It is rewarding because you wake up every day to new opportunities for improving lives, particularly your employees’ and clients’ lives. But then that can be a lot of weight to carry on your shoulders. No matter how many managerial courses you take or how many supervisory tools you utilize, leading people and supervising top-level projects will always present new challenges every morning.

Is it possible, then, to overcome these daily challenges and become the supervisor everyone loves and admires?

The short answer is YES! You can overcome supervisory challenges and lead your team to success by skillfully managing human interactions and relationships, both at professional and personal levels.

The long answer: Relating well with subordinates and leading them to success requires you to develop smart supervising strategies; to make genuine efforts every day to improve your ability to lead people. Keep in mind that you will make lots of mistakes along the way, you will struggle to reach perfection, but that’s fine provided you don’t quit on yourself or your team. What’s more, you are in luck because, in this article, we will help you design smart strategies for different supervisory challenges. Read on to know more about it.

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Time wastage is the chronic and biggest challenge every supervisor contends with. You see, demanding optimal productivity and a time schedule from employees is easy, but it is not necessarily effective. Employees develop resistance to such demands with time and either quit or exhibit low-key defiance. You will get better results by getting in the thick of the action and actively training workers on how to prioritize their work. That doesn’t mean getting in their way and micromanaging assignments (that can be counterproductive). It means pulling the strings from a safe distance towards a desirable time-management outcome.

Also Read: Importance of Time Management in the Workplace

How To Solve Time Management Challenges?

If you are looking for ways to mitigate these challenges, here are some effective ways that you can implement:

Set Clear And Realistic Expectations

More often than not, employee time management issues stem from poor leadership — particularly team leaders not being clear on the tasks that workers need to prioritize. Workers waste too much time beating around the bush in the absence of clear timelines, objectives, and strategies. They are constantly in a reactive mode; never on top of things.

There are four key solutions here:

  1. Give your employees the freedom to say no when they need to. Don’t be too excited by the “yes sir” employees who never question you on anything. Such people get stuff done, but they burn out quickly and start missing deadlines. They cannot speak up when overworked but, when fatigue catches up with them, they suddenly start wasting time on social media, unnecessary calls, and getting all chatty around the office.
  2. Nurture a culture of hard work and grit without being bossy about it. Let employees know that your door is open for any input or complaint they may have, especially when your expectations don’t match their reality.
  3. Learn to observe first before talking. For as long as everything is moving in the right direction, your constant presence may be the intrusion no one needs. Just observe from a safe distance to confirm that each employee is clear on what their deliverables are and whether the scope of your projects is well in order.
  4. Invest in smart productivity tools that employees can use to prioritize tasks, create schedules, and execute the schedules they create. For instance, a project management tool like ProofHub works great to bring all your work efforts together. In a similar way you can create PDFs for all project information, workplace policies and so on to ensure that everyone in the team has access to all that’s required to function productively.

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It is not entirely your employees’ fault that they often take more time on assignments than initially promised. That’s because we humans have one peculiar shortcoming when it comes to planning — the Planning Fallacy. We in most cases grossly overestimate the time we have and grossly underestimate the time we need to complete a task. It is a problem you struggle with if we are being honest.

How can you minimize the impact of the planning fallacy in your workforce? First by being more actively involved in scheduling. You can ask workers to state their best-case and worst-case time estimates, and then together find a path that gets everyone as close to their best-case scenario as possible. Don’t put them under too much undue pressure to achieve their best-case scenario because that will only force them to promise unachievable targets.

Another way of managing the planning fallacy as a supervisor is to help employees break projects up into small, manageable deliverables. Being their superior officer means that you have insight into many things and factors that may affect the progress of a project, insights that your employees can’t or shouldn’t access.

For example, maybe you know that a project will require extra inter-departmental collaborations after a given phase. Maybe, due to financial reasons, gathering resources during the project will take longer than normal. If team members are to manage their time more accurately and efficiently, you need to give them a breakdown of such unforeseen challenges. You don’t have to reveal too much information- just share enough to help them prepare for future changes.

Invest In Regular Time Audits

Reading emails, receiving unnecessary calls, attending not-so-significant meetings, and consulting when not really necessary are some of the biggest time-wastage culprits at the workplace. It is incredibly valuable for employees to know how long they spend on these time-wasters. One way to do this is conducting time audits on a regular basis, preferably every month.

How does the time audit work?

  • You start by introducing this concept to employees. Inform them that the time audits are only meant to help (not punish) them. They need to know this because you don’t want them to feel under-the-gun or unfairly targeted.
  • By this point, you already have helped them to prioritize tasks and allocate reasonably enough time to the work that matters the most. What you are auditing, therefore, is the adherence to the agreed-upon schedules.
  • With everyone on board, ask each employee to write a breakdown of their workday. How do they intend to work when they report in the morning? What are their beliefs in regard to how they (and should) work? How do they end up actually spending their time? How do the intentions, beliefs, and reality compare? These questions will help employees to track their own time at work.
  • Now talk to your team members one by one, and together figure out why they diverge from their initial intentions. Could they be allocating too much time to prioritize tasks, leaving inadequate time for low priority but still important tasks? If there are tasks that took more time than initially projected, figure out what went wrong and what needs to change going forward.
  • With each employee, identify distractions that need to go and equipment that needs to be upgraded for additional productivity.
  • As a team, interrogate different actions that could be going against your team goals. Ask them to help you interrogate your errors as a supervisor, both commission and omission errors.
  • Make necessary adjustments.

Creating A Learning Environment In The Workplace

A healthy workplace provides workers with real-time education- with learning opportunities from real occurrences at the workplace. That’s the environment you need to create for your workers. Create an environment that requires and encourages on-the-spot thinking and self-directed learning, as opposed to building a workforce that waits for formal training and refresher courses to improve their skill set.

How can you create a learning environment at the workplace?

  • Connect employees to mentors; you can be one of the mentors. Request other senior executives at the company to mentor some of your team members, or introduce a few to external mentors from your professional networks. The key role of these mentors is to point your junior team members in the right direction for career growth. Showing them where to look, what to see, and what to learn during a normal workday.
  • Create learning curricula for each team member. Be sure to factor in the skills an individual employee needs to improve on, their forte, and the expectations for a specified timeline.
  • Deliberately put inexperienced employees in situations and workplace events that will force them to acquire and utilize specific skills. For example, if you want a salesperson or customer agent to perfect their second language, put them in positions that require them to speak the second language more.
  • Commit to a regular performance review. Make it biweekly for the best results. During the review, ask each employee to explain the extraordinary scenarios they handled within the two weeks and the lessons learned from each scenario. If mistakes were made or some employees got confused, this is the time to make amends and bring everyone back in line. Help them improve skills, spot growth opportunities, and teach them to be responsive to real-world events.

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You cannot make good, progressive decisions as a supervisor if you want to determine the outcome of every situation yourself at the workplace. That is why you must nurture leaders in your team and delegate some of your responsibilities to them. If you haven’t done this before, you don’t have to worry too much because the art of delegation isn’t too complicated to grasp. Let’s break it down for you:

  • Pick the best candidate for the task based on skills, grit, and capabilities — A person with what it takes to succeed.
  • Delegate early so that in case the person needs any clarifications along the way, the time wasted in the process won’t hurt the eventual outcome. Besides, the more time the person has to plan and prepare, the lesser the pressure they will be under and the smaller the room for error.
  • Communicate the rationale behind the delegation. Answer the question: How will the delegation help you, the employee involved, and the company as a whole. Is there a chance that the employee could be promoted after succeeding at several delegated tasks? That could be a great motivation.
  • One task, one person! Giving all responsibility to one person makes them accountable and eliminates ambiguity.
  • Ensure that the goals and expectations of each delegated task are clearly and specifically communicated. Provide support, guidance, and instructions where necessary. Give the subordinates all the resources, contacts, and information they need to succeed.
  • To whom responsibility is delegated, the authority has to be delegated as well. Give them the freedom to experiment with their ideas for as long as the objectives and timelines are respected. Also, communicate to other members the need to respect the delegated authority.
  • Create time for briefings on the progress of the delegated task, but be careful not to come out as intrusive. The subordinate needs to see and feel your trust at every step.
  • Sometimes the junior staff will fail to meet your expectations, but taking back the task isn’t a good idea. Be patient with them. Allow them to make errors. Correct their errors. That is how they will learn and grow.
  • Evaluate the methods, but place more emphasis on results. Who knows, you might actually learn a tip or two from the methods the subordinate uses.
  • Always appreciate the effort and recognize excellence in everything the subordinate does.


To be a great supervisor or team leader, you have to forget the power, remuneration, and prestige that come with the office. Instead, place most of your focus on serving and helping your subordinates to succeed both professionally and in their personal lives. Being a great supervisor isn’t about showing who is “boss”. It is more about being the inspiration and guiding light that your juniors look up to. We can summarize that by saying: “Be the supervisor that you would be honored to work for”.

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