Your Manager is a Stupidvisor

Any Bar Rescue fans out there? The other night I was watching Jon Taffer mercilessly tear into a group of doe-eyed employees about their behavior. I can’t recall the episode, but it sticks out because of the term he used to describe the supervisor.  After questioning the supervisor about her authority and decision-making process, Taffer dubbed her a “stupidvisor.”  The owner’s jaw dropped, and the rest of the group nodded their heads in agreement.


You as the owner set the tone, the supervisor is tasked with creating a successful team under that tone. Giving someone a title and then requiring them to get permission for every little decision not only frustrates you as the owner, but it also frustrates the team, slows the process down, and destroys employee morale.  More importantly, the employees absolutely know without a doubt who the “boss” is and will blatantly sidestep the stupidvisor so that they can cut down the time it takes to get a resolution to a problem.  This lack of respect translates to tense relations between the employees, the supervisor, and the owner.


A supervisor that is just a title has no way of providing any real leadership to employees or growing in their own careers.  Think about it, the very person charged with being a cheerleader and a champion for the team and the brand is stuck asking for and waiting on decisions from the owner. And is usually on the receiving end of an earful if they show initiative in decision making. What really then is the point of handing out the title?


During my time at the Small Business and Technology Development Center, I met many owners with some problem in their business that was inevitably disrupting sales.  In most instances what they described as their problem really turned out to be a symptom of a more significant issue.


For example, I worked with a business that came in for marketing assistance, we will call them “Jack and Diane.” I put together a 12-month detailed marketing calendar and outlined example strategies for the business.  When I asked Jack who would execute the plan he explained that he had been experiencing frequent turnover but his wife, Diane, was the manager and she would see to it that it was done.


This immediately raised some questions in our session.  First of all, why the hell was Diane not present at the session if she was the “manager.”  And second, could he explain the reasons behind the cycle of turnover they were experiencing?  His explanations for the turnover included that they hired “young kids” that “do not like to work” and designated team leads did not “step up.”


What we uncovered during that session was that he was wanting to step back from daily operations and in doing so allowed his wife to take over the role of manager.  She was to be the person responsible for hiring, firing, managing the books, and leadership for the team.  However, what was really happening was that she had to ask her husband about every decision she made.  This led the employees to do the same, which introduced confusion about who was the “boss,” and created longer hours for both the husband and wife to cover the store.


Guess what folks, Diane was a stupidvisor. Although neither Jack nor Diane realized it, you can bet their employees did.  And really, how could any employee step up if their supervisor could not?


I would bet it’s a common problem. Many small businesses start as a flat and simple structure with “mom and pop” ruling the roost.  As a business grows, owners often have a hard time shifting out of daily operations.  They see the need to hire and/or delegate greater responsibilities to employees. But in many instances do not know how to let go, thus entering the micromanager/supidvisor cycle.


It is imperative that employees know who is supervising them.  This does not mean giving up power, it means sharing power as an extension of strong leadership. They will make mistakes.  But hopefully, they are provided with training opportunities that will help them grow – allowing you as an owner to concentrate on bigger and better things like growing the business or taking a much needed vacation! (Yes! There is such a thing!)


Businesses stuck in the micromanager/stupidvisor cycle experience turnover, tense employee relations and disruptions in sales due to slow decision making, decreased morale and loss of continuity in leadership.


I’ve been in the stupidvisor position before, and my husband used to say, “All of the responsibility, none of the power.” It was a demoralizing situation that ended up with me seeking greener pastures.


So what is the solution? Either take the title away and do it yourself or give your people the proper tools and get the hell out of their way.  Nine times out of ten, people rise to the occasion. The excitement of new responsibilities and fresh perspectives pump up the team, the business turns around, and the owner gets to be an owner.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?


Are you a stupidvisor? Or worse yet, have you created one? Drop me a comment below 👇


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