It’s October so as we prep for Halloween, we thought we’d explore some of the scariest parts of being a supervisor. Now there are general scary things that impact most supervisors – like downsizing or budget cuts, but the rest of the scariness is really determined by your talent themes. What’s scary to one person, doesn’t necessarily bother someone else with different Strengths.
We just hired a social media person to take over our social media efforts, so on Facebook and Instagram this month we’re featuring at least one scary thing for with each of the 34 talent themes. Hopefully they resonate with you. If you’re not already following us on social media, here are our links to Facebook https://www.facebook.com/StrengthsUniversity and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/strengthsuniversity/
Even though we’ve created some based on our own talent themes and our knowledge of the others, we want to challenge you to come up with your own. Why? Because when you identify what really freaks you out as a supervisor, you can identify where you need to do some work. When things frighten us, it sends us into freeze, fight, or flight. We often use a lot of our energy to avoid it, go through it over and over again in our minds, get defensive, or go on the offensive. No matter what we choose, it’s rarely a productive use of our energy.
Just think about the parts of your job you try to avoid. Maybe it’s dealing with holding an employee accountable. Maybe it’s those spread sheets. Maybe it’s developing a new initiative. Remember that the definition of a weakness is a shortage or misapplication of talent, skill, or knowledge that causes problems for you or others. That means the things you try to avoid are often the things that don’t fall into your Strengths Zones. Or it could mean you don’t have the skills or knowledge necessary to navigate that thing in a productive way. No matter which one of those is the case, it’s a chance for you to reflect on what changes you need to make to be more confident, effective – and less stressed as a supervisor. When you do, it frees up all that energy that you’ve been using ineffectively.
For example, I have Strategic. One of the scariest things for me is watching my team members work in ways I don't think are very strategic. In other words, I think about the time and energy that’s being wasted and it stresses me out – especially if a team member isn’t getting things done on time. I don’t want to micromanage, so what I’ve had to do is shift from just telling people they’re doing it wrong to developing my coaching skills and use those to talk to team members about how their talents might be helping them or getting in their own way in a certain situation. That way, they have an opportunity to talk to me about why they’re doing things the way they are. Sometimes this still leads to a gentle suggestion – if I feel like it’s aligned with their own Strengths. Other times, they change my mind about they way that I thought was more strategic.
So that example was more irritating than scary, so let me do another one…my Intellection. For any of you that have Intellection, it’s basically about the ability to ruminate about things in your head – in the hopes of resolving a problem or advancing your thinking on something. I’ve had an over-thinking problem since forever. I can remember putting up “Stop Thinking” signs shaped like stop signs up in my office when I first became a hall director. I knew I spent entirely too much time thinking and not enough time doing. The signs did help for a while, but then they just sort of dissolved into the background. My Intellection would keep me from being present or moving forward on many occasions. One thing it absolutely did was eat up a ton of my energy. It really wasn’t until a few years ago that I really started to work on my scary Intellection problems successfully. I started learning more about how my brain worked – so more knowledge, and started developing meditation habits – so gaining skills. I also started shifting that energy to my other talents to change they dynamic in my head and be able to move forward. All of these took some effort – as all changes do, BUT now I’m not wasting so much energy up in my head without any productive outcomes.
My challenge to you, is to complete the following sentence for each of your Top 5 – One of the scariest things to a supervisor with ______ (insert one of your talent themes) is _________. People’s talents show up differently, so even if you and your friend both have Adaptability, there’s a good chance your scariest Adaptability problem is going to be different than theirs.
Once you have your five scariest scenarios, start to analyze them. Do some self-reflection and ask is this task or problem something that falls outside of my Strengths Zone? If so, can it be delegated? Is there a complementary partner I can work with to make it go more smoothly? Or is there a way to reframe it in terms of the talents I do have? For example, I don’t have Empathy in my dominant talents, but as someone who worked in residence life I knew strategically (#Strategic) that I needed to be empathetic when students would come to my office upset. I used my Strategic to figure out a way to be empathetic. In this case, I knew couldn’t develop the talent Empathy, but I could develop the skills of Empathy.
Is the think scary because of a lack of knowledge? Maybe you were just never taught or trained to handle situations. This podcast and Strengths University exists because supervisors rarely get the training, you need to be successful. There’s no reason you should expect yourself to know everything. If you just don’t really know what to do in certain situations, how can you become more knowledgeable? Is there a book you can read? Is there a training you can attend? Part of my problem with my Intellection was that I didn’t really understand how the brain worked – how the conscious and subconscious operate and direct our lives. Once I learned more about that, I developed a better strategy to keep my Intellection from showing up as a weakness.
Maybe the scariness comes because of a lack of skill that would allow you to more effectively deal with the situation. If so, what skill(s) do you need? What would help you develop that skill? Again, is there a book or training that can get you on your way to being more skilled at handling that situation or problem? I also have Adaptability. One of the scariest things for me about Adaptability was constantly changing my plans because I was going with the flow. Obviously, that can be great when something important comes up, but as a business owner I was constantly getting in my own way. So, I learned the skill of using a planner. I should add using a planner on a consistent basis.
Even though there are things everyone finds scary as a supervisor, that doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. If you take the time to identify what those things are and really think about why they’re “freaking you out,” you can develop a strategy to make them less scary. You can reframe them in terms of other talents, find complementary partners or delegate, learn new information to increase you knowledge, or learn new skills. When you do that, you’ll stop wasting so much energy worrying about them or reacting to them in ways that don’t lead to great outcomes.
You can listen to My Circus, My Monkeys on our website https://www.strengthsuniversity.org/mycircus or through most of the major podcast hubs - Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon, TuneIn + Alexa, or Stitcher