What Does it Mean to be a Supervisor/Manager?

As supervisors and managers, often we think of our responsibilities as meeting deadlines, managing costs and budgets, hitting our sales or profit goals and keeping our bosses and customers happy. And it does mean all of that, but there is also a responsibility to the people who help us make all these things happen – our employees.

When I was in school, learning about management and business, nobody talked about this aspect of the job. Yet finding the right people for tasks, keeping them engaged, providing them with the growth opportunities that allow us to build a stable and committed team can be one of our biggest challenges as managers.

It is a delicate match-making dance to bring together the right skill set to each and every task. Throughout this process we strive to tease out each individual’s strengths and weaknesses, shoring up the weakness with training and support and leveraging strengths for our team’s success. If we do it right (and are lucky), we get it right the first time. As often as not, though, we have to make adjustments along the way, work with our team members and re-assign tasks accordingly. The tasks evolve, the individuals’ grow and the match-making process continues as we work to achieve both our corporate goals, as well as support each employee’s professional growth.

Good managers do this for each and every employee all the time and yet, when facing a candidate or employee with a disability we often reconsider our willingness to do the same match-making dance. Sometimes I wish that interviews were conducted like the blind auditions of The Voice, where it is the quality of the talent that drives the selection process, not what somebody looks like.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month – a perfect time to re-evaluate how you view people with disabilities in the workplace. I encourage you to see the potential in all candidates and employees, including those with disabilities. For more information on how to better manage all of your employees visit the Supervision & Management section of the Employer Assistance & Resource Management’s (EARN) website.

Jane Rath manages several programs designed to improve community and workforce inclusion for various diverse and underserved populations. Read Jane’s bio.

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