Supervisors and managers serve as a company’s direct connection
to their employees. The larger the
company, the more essential supervisors and managers are for increasing sales
and production, implementing company policies and procedures, communicating
company goals and values, and handling any issues that arise day-to-day. Consequentially, these supervisors and
managers increase a company’s legal exposure as the company is liable for their
actions and words.
Whether a supervisor or manager is promoted from within or hired
in as a new employee, training is a critical requirement to ensure that the
company’s expectations are properly communicated and met. Some areas of training are common sense, but
others should be considered to help mitigate liability by (hopefully)
preventing unacceptable behavior.
Job duty training: Supervisors
and managers must understand the duties of those they supervise in order to train,
step in if needed, and properly manage expectations. If the
supervisor is promoted from within, (s)he probably understands at least
some of the job duties as well as company expectations and culture. A new-to-the-company supervisor will need to
be trained in both of these areas even if they have experience from a previous
Supervisors must also learn how to delegate responsibilities
and that, even if they can do it quicker or better, they must now mentor other
employees and allow them to figure out the best way of doing the job their way. This is often a struggle for newly promoted
supervisors and should be considered an area for training and development in
order to ease the supervisor’s transition into the new leadership role.
Additionally, supervisors need to learn company-specific
procedures such as scheduling, processing and managing time off, and handling
One of the greatest challenges for recently promoted supervisors and managers
is making the transition from performing the duties of a job to supervising and
managing others to perform those duties.
New supervisors should be trained on this new role, particularly how to
handle challenging performance issues with employees who may previously have
been peers and, conversely, how to avoid favoritism. This
transition period is critical to whether the new supervisor will be successful
in his or her new role.
In addition to the OSHA and safety training given to all employees, supervisors
require additional training in what actions to take if an employee is injured
(providing first aid, assessing equipment for safety, documenting and reporting
injury, etc.). They should also be
trained in reasonable suspicion drug testing standards and procedures, such as when
it is okay to send an employee for testing, what’s the safest way to transport
them to the testing facility, and how to document such situations.
Unfortunately, supervisors also need to be trained in how to
handle workplace violence situations (i.e., what to do during a violence
conflict between co-workers or with a customer and employee).
management training: Perhaps their most important role, we believe that
managers share a co-equal responsibility for their subordinates’
performance. This includes: 1) Ensuring
employees know what is expected of them in their job; 2) ensuring they have all
of the necessary tools, equipment, training, and structure necessary to be
successful in their role; 3) providing the ongoing feedback that employees need
to ensure they know how they are or are not meeting expectations and what they
can do to meet those expectations; and 4) holding employees accountable for the
performance standards that you have mutually established. Employees also need to know how what they do
contributes to the larger success of the company.
Training in critical conversations is always a good idea to
ensure supervisors have the tools to have difficult discussions (such as those
relating to poor performance, terminations, workplace conflict, etc.).
Part of performance management also includes timely
progressive discipline. Managers need to
be trained on the company’s discipline procedures so they are ready to
discipline as soon as an inappropriate or unacceptable action is known.
Harassment / sexual
harassment / discrimination / retaliation training: In order to maintain a safe and compliant
workplace, all employees should receive training on the company’s harassment
and discrimination policies. Supervisors
require additional training into what to do if they witness this behavior or if
they receive a complaint because supervisors are held to a higher standard. How
they handle claims of harassing, discriminatory, or retaliatory behavior will
have a significant impact not only on the parties involved in the behavior, but
also on the company’s exposure to liability.
In addition, regular training is an important part of an affirmative
defense if there is a complaint.
It’s important to know that some states go so far as to require
that supervisors receive this training annually or bi-annually.
training: Managers often have expanded duties in areas not covered by
employee training or experience. This basic business training includes:
· Documentation – how to properly document and
file any issues, requests, investigations, discipline, performance management,
etc. so it can be referred to later if needed
· Communication – how to communicate effectively
in multiple formats (in person, over the phone, via email, etc.) with
employees, fellow supervisors, vendors, customers, prospective clients, etc.
· Project management – how to keep projects on
time, on budget and on track
· Finance / budgets – what do the numbers mean and
how to manage the department’s finances
· Computer / software skills – how to use
computers or management software more often or in new ways to get the job done,
track performance, submit documentation, etc.
Finally, it’s good business practice to get a signed acknowledgment
from each participant who has participated in training, regardless of which
training you conduct. This sort of
documentation should be kept in employee personnel files so that you can track
employee training and verify to a court of law, should you need to, that you
provided the necessary training to ensure a safe and productive workplace.
Of course, if you need any assistance with training, please
don’t hesitate to contact us today!
By Paige McAllister, SPHR, HR Compliance – Affinity HR