We have been working on providing training to our supervisors as most of them were thrown to the fire. But that’s been the way we’ve always done it right? If we think you are skilled enough to be a supervisor, why then you shouldn’t need any training, right? Why is it only supervisors we think this way? Heck, we put our custodial staff through 2 weeks of training, why wouldn’t we do at least that for supervisors? They need to know more than how to approve time or how to assign work or properly fill out the evaluation form. But that’s where we spend the majority of our time with them, isn’t it. We make sure they can check off the proper boxes, but do we talk to them about the whys? Why is it important to assign work? Why is it important to approve time cards in a timely manner? And what about those big blank spaces on the evaluation form? What should you put in those spaces?
I know in the past, I have fallen prey to this same thought process. I wince when I think of the “training” I gave to one of my coworkers who had recently agreed to take on a high-level leadership role in the department. I was a little dismissive, thinking I wasn’t the best person to do training on approving time. Whoops. I reasoned that it was “someone else’s job” — like central HR’s job, not mine. Never mind that in the past I had reasoned that it was the department’s job! I needed to do a better job and so I have worked to rectify that.
We now bring someone in from central HR to lead hour long sessions called “HR for Supervisors.” The thought is to give them a general idea of a complex HR topic so they will know enough of when to call someone for help. We’ve covered concerted activity, reasonable accommodations, working with staff for whom English is a 2nd language, hostile work environment. We’ve also asked companies like Fred Pryor to come onsite and lead a full day of training on those “soft” leadership skills like unacceptable behavior & what to do about it or moving from player to coach.
It’s a start, but we also need to do a better job at supporting those who are making that internal leap and taking on a leadership role. We need to not just say let me know if you have questions — they have lots of questions, but some are difficult to articulate and sometimes, the right person isn’t there at the time. We need to be available and visible. Sitting in the office doesn’t help anyone. And I know I need to do a much better job at that as well!