You don't have to be a drill sergeant to assert yourself as a supervisor, but you do need to have confidence and be sure of yourself. A balanced approach demonstrates your confidence and encourages others to naturally follow your lead. Focusing on your professional appearance, approach and preparation can help you successfully assert yourself without drowning out other voices.
Look the Part
If you want to assert yourself, you have to look assertive. This means wearing appropriate attire for your position and dressing in a way that commands respect. Blue jeans won't make the cut. Neither will baggy T-shirts or messy hair. You don't have to wear a formal suit every day, but you do need to convey that you took the time to groom yourself and dress professionally. According to "Inc.," to gain respect at work you need to dress your best. You're not going on a date or to a club, so looking sexy isn't the goal. Wear your hair up or tied back when you head into the office. Flipping, touching or constantly tucking your hair behind your ears causes you to lose credibility. Tie it back neatly and look people in the eye when you speak.
Know Your Stuff
Being the loudest voice sometimes works when trying to persuade others to follow your lead, but it rarely works in sophisticated circles. Odds are, your employees and colleagues are too smart to be bullied into compliance. Therefore, you've got to stay on top of your game and know that the commands you're making are the right ones. Take a management course at your local community college or attend a seminar to network with other managers. Often, these opportunities to mingle offer new insights and guidance about how to manage employees and handle situations. If workers know that your advice leads to a path for success, they'll willingly follow.
Assert, Don't Aggress
There's a big difference between being assertive and aggressive. Aggressiveness is a plight for power. According to "Inc.," assertiveness means dispelling confusion and making your team aware of your expectations. This is a far cry from aggressiveness, which involves instilling fear in your employees to keep them in line. This involves clearly communicating your goals and setting up reasonable challenges and standards. Aggressiveness, on the other hand, relies on fear to keep employees working. Realize that your worry is all in your head. The worst thing that could happen if you verbalize your standards is that others might fail to reach them, but no one should be angry or defensive simply because you've asserted yourself, drawn boundaries or set reasonable company goals.
The "you-attitude," according to the McGraw Hill Business Communication online center, is a method of communication that allows you to put yourself in your audience's shoes. "Fire Rescue Magazine" calls this principle the difference between "you" and "I" messages, and it can make or break your interaction with employees. Rather than focusing on what you want, focus on how your co-workers will perceive your messages. If you say, "You need to work harder this month to meet sales goals," you've focused blame on your audience and they will react defensively. Instead, say, "We need to focus on increasing sales this month. Sales were down last month, and that hurt the company." You've conveyed the same information, but you have done so in a way that doesn't point fingers or cause an immediate defensive reaction.
Jan Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a master's degree in creative writing. Roth has written trade books for Books-a-Million and has published articles on green living, wellness and education topics. She taught business writing, literature, creative writing and English composition at the college level for five years.