Setting boundaries as a supervisor
Don’t you hate it when someone starts typing on your keyboard without asking, or a supervisor who needs to keep on pressing your buttons, sticking their fingers ahead of yours, when another couple of seconds would do?
Early on in my professional life, when I was a sonar supervisor onboard a nuclear attack submarine, my personal rule was: if you want to build a team of competent operators, you have to give them the room to build their skills, to build up their confidences by giving them that extra couple of seconds to think things through on their own.
Yes, even on a submarine, you can afford a couple of seconds most of the time for most operations.
Given a competent person (and most people in a sonar department are competent) some “space” will foster confidence and mutual respect, whereas interjecting your knowledge or action at an inappropriate place and time will not.
Whether it’s driving your keyboard in a cubicle or a control panel on a submarine sonar, each department or team member needs to have clear boundaries to work within so there are clear areas of autonomy and control.
Especially in a tight environment like a submarine sonar shack, there is a difference between making sure something is done and doing it for your operator. One is professional, the other is being short-sighted.
Moreover, a supervisor obsessed with someone else’s minor difficulties should watch out that he is not neglecting his own responsibilities.
Get the job done as a team and be mindful of building team spirit and individual confidences. In the end, a team effort is getting the most out of everyone at every station. Sometimes you have to put the best person on each position (i.e battle conditions), but build a team properly by fostering everyone’s potential for being a future leader while working within a system where each person is given their dedicated space to control.