Cover image of Effective Supervisory Practices 6th edition

People join organizations and quit bosses. We know this. Study after study has validated that, while organizational vision and values must be affirmed and modeled from the top, it’s dissatisfaction with their immediate supervisor that drives employees to search for new positions in other organizations, or to become those demoralized lower performers who remain through inertia.

Supervisors set the tone for their team. Getting it right involves self-awareness and discipline. The new 6th edition of Effective Supervisory Practices: Better Results Through Teamwork outlines six practices that supervisors can develop to set a more positive tone in the workplace. As supervisors, you should be:  

  1. Approachable so that employees and colleagues don’t hesitate to talk to you when they need help or are facing unexpected obstacles.
  2. Connected to team dynamics as well as work progress.
  3. Open to changes in work processes or strategies to allow for improvements and encourage innovation.
  4. Aware of trends or patterns in the larger organization, community, or profession so that you can promote a learning environment and prepare your team for approaching impacts.
  5. Trustworthy, so that team members know they can confide in you and count on your support.
  6. Safe, by not exerting control through fear, shame, or intimidation. When responding to problems or errors, create psychological safety by diagnosing causes, and solving them rather than assigning blame or leaping to punishments.

There’s good news: ICMA just released the 6th edition of its best-selling book, Effective Supervisory Practices: Better Results Through Teamwork and is launching a new training program to present some of the key takeaways from the book. The training will be delivered in a six-part webinar series (live and on-demand) starting on April 18, and running every other week through June 27.

Together, these resources provide an excellent way to equip supervisors with the tools they need to empower their teams. In addition to covering the basic nuts and bolts of supervision, the book and training series provide guidance in leadership practices like conflict management, leading change, and developing resilience. If you are an expe­rienced supervisor or manager looking for some leadership development, this book is designed to fill in the gaps, define terms, introduce best practices you may not have mastered yet, and answer common questions that many managers share. It’s also great for project managers who have no direct reports but must lead programs and people across line authority.

Unlike all the management books targeted at the private sector, this book presents concepts like ethics, customer service, livability and place-making, and diversity, equity, and inclusion in the context of local government systems and services. Use it to inject best practices into your workplace, and to explore with your team the topics we often don’t find the time to discuss.

Most importantly, use Effective Supervisory Practices and its companion training series to empower the people who are the real key to employee retention, risk management, and cultural and operational success in your organization. 

Effective Supervisory Practices is available in Print and Digital. For information on the training series, read more in ICMA’s Learning Lab.

Michelle Pochè Flaherty is assistant city manager, city of Redwood City, California, and the editor of Effective Supervisory Practices: Better Results Through Teamwork, 6th edition.


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