From the Docs

Supervisors and Managers: Connecting with Employees

Supervising employees can be one of the most rewarding and challenging endeavors for supervisors and managers. Supervision requires the development and cultivation of a new set of skills that need to be practiced to be successful. The daily activities (the daily grind) of completing the job duties can become a daunting task for many supervisors and managers who do more with fewer resources. However, the job functions of a supervisor and manager far exceed the physicality of the job duties. The responsibility of the supervisor and manager is plentiful. Supervisors and managers are constantly adjusting techniques to ensure that employees are adequately trained. They must also control employee turnover at units of assignment due to growth or poor management, be aware of employee dissatisfaction or low morale, help resolve conflict in the workplace, build the team, plan and
delegate tasks.1

Supervisors and managers who invest in their employees have a higher rate of return in their investment (e.g., human capital). If you have ever said, “I will walk on coals for that supervisor,” think about what made that supervisor effective and memorable. Was it their ability to connect with people? Was it the way they made employees feel? Did you feel appreciated and respected? Did you feel like a valued member of the team? Supervisors and managers who want to make a positive impact on their employees understand the importance of value. These supervisors and managers know how to make each person feel like a valued team member, a relational component in supervision that cannot be underscored enough. Feeling valued at the job is linked to job performance.2

An essential quality for a supervisor or manager to possess is connecting relationally with their employees. This requires an ability to effectively communicate with employees, which is different than simply talking to people. The way the information is delivered is essential. Showing care, empathy and compassion are strengths in a supervisor that have lasting positive effects on employee morale and performance. Being compassionate is not synonymous with complete agreement or becoming the employee’s best friend.

Conversely, you may have heard the saying that though someone may not remember what you said, they will never forget how they felt as a result of that interaction. Sometimes, a conversation is delivered using a condescending and non-collaborative tone, which creates roadblocks, thus hindering communication and negatively affecting employee productivity. It is essential to find ways to open the lines of communication instead of shutting them down. Effective connections with employees set the tone for the working conditions of the office or unit of assignment.

Here are some techniques that supervisors and managers can use to communicate and connect with employees effectively.

• Actively listen to employees. Active listening requires time, effort and the ability to be present (in the moment) during the conversation. Active listening allows for information to be adequately processed, analyzed and interpreted.3
• Be mindful of your own emotions and regulate them as needed. Pay attention to when your emotions are becoming heightened.
• Slow down your communication and speak slowly.
• You should know when to pause the conversation to gain perspective.
• You should deliver the message clearly and concisely.
• Be mindful of biases or negative thoughts.
• Be a fair-minded supervisor or manager in the resolution of conflict.
• Develop ways to show employees that you value and appreciate them.

Psychological Services Bureau provides support to all members of the Sheriff’s Department. If you would like a confidential (and free) appointment or consultation with a PSB psychologist to discuss this or any other topic, call Psychological Services Bureau at (213) 738-3500. To obtain additional information, visit our intranet site at
1. Ray, Linda. (2018). “Top 10 challenges of supervising.”
2. Matta, Christy. (2012). “Why it’s important to feel valued at your job.”
3. Leonardo, Nixaly. Active listening techniques: 30 Practical Tools to Hone Your Communication Skills. Emeryville, California. Rockridge Press, 2020.