Do you remember your first day as a supervisor? How many questions did you get?
It seemed to me that the questions were endless. Little questions about technical details that were easy to answer, and big questions about vacation time and doctor appointment time that required some thought. Hundreds of questions.
If you knew how many questions you were going to receive you might have asked to be paid piece work: by the question.
But, do supervisors need to have all the answers?
Some answers, yes. Important answers, yes. But one of the biggest lessons I learned early on as a first time supervisor was this: anyone could ask any question -- as long as they also had an answer in mind.
It might not be the right answer. It might not be my preferred answer. It might not even be an answer I would immediately approve. But by coming to the boss with a question AND an answer, it was often much easier for a team member to get what they really wanted.
And guess what? Eventually, they didn't have quite so many questions -- because they grew to feel empowered to answer them.
How many questions will you answer today?
-- Doug Smith
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