To become a supervisor requires knowledge of how to motivate employees, ability to communicate with others, and common sense. The success of the supervisor in the performance of its duties determines the success or the failure of the programs and objectives of the company. Our ability as supervisor is to obtain first-rate performance through others and is far more important than what you can do yourself. The attitude—as viewed by others—is critically important to obtaining excellent performance through our staff. The following are some guidelines that will provide new supervisors with good practices in different supervisory responsibilities. I. Communication Skills
“Communication is the act of exchanging information. It can be used to inform, command, instruct, assess, influence and persuade other people. In our business world, invariably there are times we wish we would have done or said things differently. That is why supervisors need to master their writing and oral communication skills. There are situations we need to avoid when communicating with employees. One of these would be communicate in a negative way. “Be sure that the content and tone of [any] document are appropriate for the audience.” (Rue, Bryans. 2004 pg. 46) We need to try to be positive, enthusiastic when we communicate to our staff. As supervisors, we will have to let the employees know that we are ready, willing, confident, and able to accept new responsibilities. Good communication helps organizations and their employees achieve their goals. The ability to write and speak well becomes increasingly important as we develop our skills as supervisors. People put things on writing to create reports, letters, and e-mails. “The main basic purposes of business and administrative communication are to inform, to request or persuade and to build goodwill.” (Locker. 2006 pg. 27) A) Written Communication
When a supervisor inform, he explains or tell the readers something. When a supervisor request or write to persuade, he wants the readers to act. Good business and administrative writing should meet some basic criteria. It needs to be clear, complete and correct. This will save the reader’s time and will create a good understanding of the purpose of the message. The supervisor will need to organize the information to fit the audience, the purpose, and the situation. For example, if a supervisor needs to communicate directive orders, supply an employee with new information, or communicate information that require immediate action, written communication is the best way to do it. Improving writing skills will help managers to save time. Since comprehension will be easier, it will reduce the reading time. In addition, it will reduce the misunderstandings that may occur when the reader has to supply missing or unclear information. This will make the issues clear, so when disagreements surface, they can be resolved quickly. B) Oral Communication
“Not all business communication is done in writing. In fact, most business communication is done orally.” (Rue, Bryans. 2004 pg. 46) The efficiency of oral communication depends on how exactly is used and performed. “For communication to be effective it must be possible for it to be first remembered, [understandable], and finally interpreted as intended. Whether messages are sent verbally or non-verbally, this may not always happen, unless communication is viewed as an interactive process with the sender checking with the receiver that each of these intentions has been accomplished. Even when [oral] messages are heard and understood correctly; [employees] may receive inappropriately because the meaning to them is ambiguous.” (Chafer. 2003 p13) In order to avoid this, manager need to:
-Make sure that employees can follow oral directions.
- “Always be courteous. [Supervisors should] avoid getting angry when other people are talking, even if you disagree with what are they saying.” (Rue, Bryans. 2004 pg. 47) This will build trust with employees. They will know that you are listening, and they can communicate and express any issue without having any negative experience. -Be direct and avoid any bias when reprehending employees, explaining complex concepts, or giving instructions. Remember, the supervisor goal is to get enough information, so he can work with the employees to solve any problems and increase productivity. II. Effective Orientation and Training Methods
This manual includes the basic information on orientation for new employees when they start working at this company. Each phase is expected to be complete in a full working day. The supervisor is responsible for these activities to be completed on time. On the first day, the employees will be presented with a verification list. The verification lists assure that each new employee receives precise directions on all the aspects of security, orientation and training procedures related to his work. On the same day, the employee will receive orientation on subjects related to the area of personnel as well as on the part of security, rule and regulations of the company. All new employees will participate in the general orientation phase and later receive training in specific aspects related to the responsibilities that have been assigned them. When the first two phases are completed, the new employee will follow the third phase called “job-instruction-training (JIT) along with an assigned supervisor. In several points during this training, the apprentice or new employee must solve tests to make sure that he completes each phase of the qualification in which he has acquired the abilities necessary to come with the following phase. At the end of each phase, the new employee and the supervisor must sign the verification list thus to be able to take a useful registry of the advance of each individual. The fact that the orientation and training are completed does not release the supervisor with the responsibility to distribute progressive qualification. With the purpose of guaranteeing the conservation of the abilities, there will be formal classes of qualifications that will settle down so the employees will make a review of the diverse abilities that they require for this work. In addition, the supervisor will formally review the improvement of the employee in different areas. All new employees will need to complete this three-day training and orientation program even if they have past experience in this field. The first day of work, the new employee will have to appear in the department of human resources to receive instructions and information corresponding to this department. The instructions will be given in a classroom with an orientation supervisor present. The employee will review the policies and procedures of the company in a two-hour orientation class. After this class, the new employees will be able to review the attendance policies. The goal is to understand that the purpose of these policies is to establish a consistent and fair method to measure excessive absenteeism and provide a system of discipline to correct poor attendance and tardiness. The supervisor will need to point that the company recognizes that legitimate illnesses or emergencies occur; therefore, the attendance policy has been establish in order to accommodate a reasonable amount of those absences. -In this class the employee will review also the dress code and “what is expected of the new employee: attitude, reliability, initiative, emotional maturity, and personal appearance.” (Rue, Byars. 2004 p 177 -The new employees will need to take a two-hour class about discrimination and harassment. This class needs to be completed before the new employee is assigned to the next phase of the training and orientation program. -This is a very important part of the orientation phase. In this class, the new employees will learn how to conduct themselves in a businesslike, professional manner. They need to understand that both the law and the company prohibit any form of harassment or discrimination based on gender, race, color, sexual orientation, and disability. -The new employees will review in a one-hour class what are the ”pay procedures, benefits, salary, job security, insurance, recreational facilities, employee activities, rest periods, holidays, vacation, sick leave, leave of absence, tuition refund, pension.” (Rue, Byars. 2004 p 177) -The trainee will need to learn about the company’s right to access information. The company has installed electronic mail, Internet access, computer, networks and systems to facilitate communication between employees and third parties. The employees will need to follow guidelines. They need to understand that this technology is the company’s property and they need to be used for business purposes only. -At the end of the day, the new employee and supervisor will sign the verification list. This list will be forward to the human resources department for a full review of the employee progress. B) Training Phase
The supervisor is responsible to create a comfortable environment in the training phase. If the supervisor’s attitude towards the process of recruitment of new employees is creative and enthusiastic, the training process will be a success. At the end of the training phase, the employees must be able to apply and to put in practice immediately their new knowledge and abilities. If the employees do not understand the information provided in the training process, this training has not been effective. The supervisor must know immediately if the workers are making their work in the proper manner or not. The supervisor must observe the employees while they make their tasks and make questions to identify what they know and what they do not understand. New employees must understand what is expected of them the day they start working to next the six months. During the training phase, it is important to be very clear on the responsibility and functions of the employee in the company. This will establish expectations when defining the responsibilities before using the new employee. A description of his work will make clear all the responsibilities of every one and will avoid any confusion. C) Job Instructions Training (JIT) Phase
-The employee will be instructed how to anticipate problems or look for solutions when these appear. He will need to know that identifying the problem is always simpler than to find the solution adapted, but the company hopes they make a right decision that is decisive and effective. -The supervisor needs to show how his job is done properly. He needs to perform and describe, “pausing to point out the components and the key points. Let the trainee ask questions.” (Rue, Byars. 2004 p 180) -The supervisor will have the trainee perform the job. He must test the employee. He will “observe performance, correct errors, and repeat instructions if necessary.” (Rue, Byars. 2004 p 180) -The trainee will need to demonstrate knowledge of his duties in this phase. After the supervisor will observe how his work was done. -The supervisor will follow-up the trainee performance until “the trainee is qualified to work with normal supervision” (Rue, Byars. 2004 p 180) -At the end of this program, the trainee and supervisor will need to complete the verification list. III. Improving Productivity for Teams
To improve performance and productivity the supervisor should: -Focus on improving employee skills to work in teams as well as increasing understanding of their role within the team. To resolve any problem the focus of the supervisor should be on helping the employees to overcome difficulties that need attention such as: insufficient resources, equipment problems, or inadequate teamwork -Learn how and when to delegate authority and responsibility. This practice will give some trust to the team and believe that are reliable and let the employee prove that can handle any task. Managers should practice empowerment within the team in order to create incentives for future improvements. “Under empowerment, supervisors express confidence in the ability of employees to perform at high levels” (Rue, Byars. 2004 p 114) Performing at high-levels means the team can produce more and better. IV. Conducting Performance Appraisals
“The performance appraisal can be defined as a process, typically delivered annually by a supervisor to a subordinate, designed to help employees understand their roles, objectives, expectations and performance success. Performance appraisals are one of the most versatile tools available to managers. They can serve many purposes that benefit both the organization and the employee whose performance is being appraised.” (Bohlander, Snell. 2007 p 379) Before any appraisal is conducted, the standards by which performance is to be evaluated should be clearly defined by the supervisor and communicated to the employee. -It is important for the manager to know the purpose for which the appraisal is to be used. For example, using the appraisal for compensation decisions rather than development purposes may affect how the manager evaluates the employee and it may change the rater’s opinion of how the appraisal form should be completed. In addition, performance appraisal should alert managers to the weaknesses and problems the employees may present. -A good practice that can help is that the manager performs his review as a trade of information. This type of leader will not perform a report card type review. He needs to keep in mind that the performance appraisal form will be used as a tool and a record. The reviews are supposed to give the company a consistency for measuring performance in similar positions. Organization is the key in conducting these reviews. --The managers will use the method that is approved by the company. “Several methods can be used for performance appraisal. These include trait approaches (such as graphic rating scales, mixed-standard scales, forced-choice forms, and essays), behavioral methods (such as critical-incident ratings, checklists, BARS, and BOS), and results methods (MBO). The choice of method depends on the purpose of the appraisal.” (Bohlander, Snell. 2007 p 386) The supervisor has to balance the support to his employees and the obligation to meet performance objectives in the best interests for the company’s productivity. V. Resolving Conflict
“Conflict can be either internal or external to the individual.” (Rue and Byars. 2004 p 274) Conflicts normally increase with no solution and can be costly if it seems irreconcilable. Managers can deal with interpersonal conflict: -Withdrawing one or more employees involved in the conflict. -“Smooth over the conflict and pretend that it does not exist” (Rue, Byars. 2004 p 285) -Compromise with the employees and try to resolve the conflict. -“Have a confrontation between the participants in an effort to eliminate the underlying source of the conflict” (Rue, Byars. 2004 p 285) Because conflicts have the potential of becoming crises, early supervisor intervention is important. Once a crisis exists, attitudes of those in conflict become rigid. Supervisors should try: -Share any thoughts about conflict with employees. Defense mechanisms prevent the resolution of conflict. -Reduce harmful stress in the workplace. This type of stress “manifest itself in increased absenteeism, job turnover, lower productivity, mistakes on the job, and low levels of motivation.” (Rue, Byars. 2004 p 282) -If stress has become a problem for a specific employee and he cannot handle it in a professional manner, suggest the employee to seek professional help. -Promote openness between employees and reward it. Seek solutions to identified problems, and follow-up. VI. Improving Employee Relations.
“The basic purpose of discipline should be to tech about expected behaviors in a constructive manner.” (Rue, Byars. 2004 p 383) Managers need to guarantee that they had established an environment that guards employee entitlements. Workers are expected to comply to written and unwritten rules, meet performance criteria established by supervisors and company guidelines, give information about projects that they are working on, and follow instructions. “The purpose of disciplinary action is to prevent the recurrence of misconduct, to improve the employee's attitude and behavior, and to maintain discipline and morale among other employees. Every disciplinary action should be weighed with these objectives in mind. Where there is confidence that these purposes can be accomplished through counseling or verbal admonishment, formal disciplinary action should not be taken.” (OHCM 2006) When employees do not conduct or meet performance criteria as expected, it is important that managers address performance and conduct issues as soon as possible. Not addressing these issues: -Reinforces the behavior and allows it to continue
-Allows the employee to make the manager responsible for his misdeed (i.e., a supervisor who approves time and attendance for an employee when the employee did not work the stated hours is as much responsible for the incorrect reflection of time worked as the employee). -The focus should always be on trying to assist the employee in improving performance, however, if performance continues to be unsatisfactory, the supervisor needs to be proactive in addressing specific critical elements that are not being met. Supervisors should not store up criticisms but should discuss any perceived problems with employees as soon as such problems arise.
Bohlander, G., Snell, S. (2007) Managing Human Recourses (14th Edition). Florence, KY: Thomson Learning Higher Education.
Chafer, A. (2003) Communication Skills Manual. Luton and Dunstable VTS http://www.skillscascade.com/teaching/csManual.doc Locker, K. (2006) Business and Administrative Communication. (7th Edition). Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill.
OHCM (2006) Office of Human Capital Management. Employee Relations - Addressing Misconduct.
http://ohcm.gsfc.nasa.gov/sup_info/toolbox/EmpRelations/Misconduct.htm Rue, L., Byars, L. (2004). Supervision: Key link to productivity (8th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill-Irwin.