The Cycle of Supervision Oppression

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Most people leave positions because of their supervisors. A Gallup poll of more than 1 million employed U.S. workers concluded that the number 1 reason people quit their job is a bad boss or immediate supervisor.

Now, I know a lot has been written about bad bosses and the different types of tyrannical supervisors, but this week’s blog post is not about that. It’s about the psychological games that are sometimes played as a result of an unhealthy ego and the need for hierarchy to be the common dominator in nurturing healthy relationships.

I am hearing more and more from clients and colleagues that they are feeling burnt out from having to continuously deal with an egomaniacal supervisor who seems hellbent on destroying the morale and passion of the entire team.  These clients and colleagues are having to pick themselves up every day and figure out how to make it through another week, month and semester because they need the money to pay bills. Yes, they care about the work and students, but the work environment is often unsafe, oppressive and mentally unhealthy.

Supervision = POWER for many supervisors. I’m the one in control. But why are you using force to control others?

Common uses of unhealthy supervision approach:

  1. Changing the rules of the game.
  2. Sending the message that it is a game.
  3. Getting defensive and angry when your employees challenge you.
  4. Telling your employees they are there to make you look good.
  5. Feeling threatened by good employees.
  6. Using the phrase, “Because I said so.”
  7. Not listening.
  8. Using the phrase, “If you don’t like it you can leave.”
  9. Talking badly behind your employees’ back to the upper administration.
  10. Not creating a path for your employees to shine, grow and move up.
  11. Never making your employees professional growth a priority.
  12. Breaking promises.
  13. Acting like you know it all and that your employees are dispensable.
  14. Not seeing your employees as people, but just as workers.

 Supervision as POWER

·      Causes Pain

·      Uses Oppression to control others

·      Weakens the team

·      Uses the Ego to guide decision-making

·      Often makes Rash decisions aimed at making the supervisor  stand out

What is Your Why?

Supervising others is a privilege and comes with a great responsibility. Supervision is not about power, it’s about being in a position to support and inspire those who report to you so they can grow and become possible leaders themselves.

Have you asked yourself what your why is? What is the why to the area you overseeing? Not the people but the area. Are you clear on that why?

Are you clear on why you want to be a supervisor? What is your purpose and why do you believe this to be?

Are you in the role because it is part of your climb in the hierarchy ladder of leadership? How many people will you have mistreated when you get to the top?

The harm of a “bad” supervisor can leave a lasting negative impact on someone. The relationship of manager/employee is one you are in for 8hrs a day, 5 days a week, 40 hours a week. Understand this amount of time can cause your negativity to seep into a valuable employee’s psyche and have them question if they are enough.

Great leaders do not oppress their employees. They inspire them to become the best versions of themselves they can be.

When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’

~ Lao Tzu

Debra Y. Griffith

Dean of Student Equity and Success at West Valley Community College

Consultant | Speaker | Coach |Strategist |Trainer

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