How to Groom SUPER Supervisors

The following are some tips for employers in training their supervisors to be successful leaders.

1. Train supervisors in the mission, philosophy and corporate culture of your company.  If the supervisors don’t understand the underlying purpose of the company, they can’t communicate it to their subordinates.

2. Impart a consistent and uniform message to your supervisors regarding company rules, policies and procedures, and their application.  Inconsistency in the implementation of company practices leads to employee confusion, frustration and poor morale.

3. Develop effective communications devices for supervisors to utilize in directing and guiding staff in day-to-day duties. These communication vehicles can be in the form of electronic written work assignment forms, work group memoranda, employee team meetings, uniform oral and written directives and the like. Employees should be kept abreast of current developments in your business if they will be expected to invest themselves in and implement those changes. Effective company communications minimize damaging rumors and promote employee receptivity to change.

4. Supervisors should be open to employee feedback and suggestions.  It is not just management that has all the good ideas regarding business practices. Employees should be encouraged to voice their opinions, both positive and negative. Supervisors should be instructed to be not only good talkers, but also good listeners.

5. Train supervisors on the evaluation process utilized by the company, if any, including how to complete evaluation forms. If the employer uses a written evaluation form, all supervisors should be instructed on the importance of the evaluation as an employee motivator, how to measure employee performance, and how to properly complete the form.

6. If supervisors are your company’s front line in employee discipline, they must thoroughly understand your company’s rules, penalties, and how to assess discipline. If their role is to report employee misconduct, they must be instructed on the triggers for such reporting, such as personal observation, reports by coworkers and the like.

7. Supervisors should be instructed on how to respond to reports of harassment and retaliation in the workplace. The company should have a well-established written policy prohibiting harassment and retaliation and a well-defined policy for handling employee complaints. Supervisors should understand their responsibility to report harassment and retaliation complaints to top management even when their subordinates ask them to take no action regarding their complaints.

8. Instruct supervisors on how to recognize and address common types of employee performance deficiencies and misconduct, including but not limited to, potential substance abuse issues, attendance infractions, and other forms of unacceptable behavior. To the extent that the employer has an attendance policy, supervisors should be well versed on the employer’s attendance expectations and their role in addressing attendance infractions, keeping in mind employee rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, Workers Disability Compensation laws and your company’s leave of absence policies.

9. Supervisors should be cautioned against exhibiting any of the following behaviors in dealing with their subordinates:

a. Threats of adverse action/promises of clemency

b. Interrogations without HR involvement

c. Inappropriate surveillance of employee activity

d. Retaliation for statutorily protected activity, such as concerted activity, whistle blowing and so on

10. Supervisors should be instructed to exhibit a positive attitude regarding company rules, practices and procedures. If supervisors grumble about your company, their negative attitude will certainly spill over to their subordinates. Extol the virtues of your company whenever possible and the benefits of being a member of “the team.”

11. Reward supervisors for their success and that of their staff in achieving the goals of the employer. It is only through recognition of achievement that employees ultimately feel that their efforts have been properly and adequately identified.  Rewards don’t have to be monetary.  They can also take the form of certificates of achievement, letters of thanks or public expressions of appreciation.

The importance of supervisors in motivating a company’s workforce cannot be over-emphasized. Supervisors are not simply born, but cultivated. That’s why every company should train their supervisors to truly be “super.”

Karen Bush Schneider is a shareholder with White, Schneider, Young & Chiodini, PC, a law firm specializing in employment and benefits law.








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