RUOK? The Role of Heartfelt Communication as a Supervisor

Nov 6, 2020 4:53:00 PM

By: Bluefield AMS


During a recent webinar in our Effective Maintenance Supervision program, the participants discussed the role of a supervisor. A strong focus was the role a supervisor plays in looking out for their team’s welfare, especially mental health problems.

Most supervisors aren’t trained counsellors, and shouldn’t be expected to deal with these issues themselves. But by communicating openly and regularly with their team, they can play a vital role in spotting potential problems and helping their team members get the help they need.

One of the team members shared the following story:


Supervisor Share

“As a supervisor, it has to come from the heart, and you have to care. It can’t just be something that we think we’re supposed to ask. It must be a genuine commitment on your part. Otherwise it will be exposed in a heartbeat.

“And once you are told something, then knowing how to respond to it, and how to direct them, - or encourage them – to seek help is really important.

“I know of a situation where a maintainer was working for a company with a 24-hour service. He thought that the company was the piece de resistance of his career. He was working remotely on a single site and he was the sole on-call responder. He was a young guy, and he thought this was fantastic.

“But the supervisor, after about a year, started thinking that maybe having someone perpetually on call is a very difficult thing to ask them to do. He started getting the sense that this kid wasn’t perhaps traveling as well as he should be.

“He relayed back to head office that this guy might need a break, but before he managed to organise it, this young guy attempted to take his own life.

“Fortunately, he didn’t succeed and was actually OK in the end.

“But it was only at that point that the company said “Oh, we need to do something!”

“It came down to that the young guy couldn’t face saying “I can’t do this.” He couldn’t go to bed every night waiting for the phone to ring – seven days a week.

“It sounded great initially, but he started to realise that it wasn’t great at all, and he never got a break. And he didn’t know how to put his hand up and ask for help. He thought it would have been a sign of weakness on his part, so he wasn’t going to tell anyone.

“It’s very difficult as a supervisor. Firstly, he shouldn’t have been in that situation. Secondly, this isn’t an exact science, it can be hard to keep that open line of communication with people to know exactly what they’re thinking.

“So – making it heartfelt is important.


Click here to learn about our Effective Maintenance Supervision program, delivered through the Bluefield Academy.