On average, 10,000 baby boomers are retiring every day and by 2020 millennials (ages 18-34) are expected to make up more than half of the total U.S. workforce. A large percentage of supervisors experience difficulties transitioning from being an individual contributor into new management roles. In our experience, it is very valuable for employers to make the process easier and more productive by providing training on what savvy supervisors need to know. Here is our top ten list:

1) Educate Managers on Appropriate Interview Questions

There are legal prohibitions on questions that can be asked during the pre-employment process. In addition, supervisors are encouraged to avoid making any statements that can be construed as promises by the candidates, such as comments regarding a long career with the organization, etc.

2) The Importance of Delegation

It is important to learn how to delegate work to another employee and assign responsibility for completing a task. When delegating work, supervisors should communicate the “big picture,” desired results, and deadlines. Further, it is recommended that supervisors verify that their employees have adequate skills and resource availability.

Supervisors should support the team member in completing a task and if necessary, assign the individual additional developmental resources. To ensure that deadlines are met, supervisors are encouraged to monitor progress closely. When delegating work, it is essential that supervisors provide direction regarding what is needed and to continue providing ongoing feedback.

3) Performance Evaluations

Effective feedback is essential. Supervisors need to meet with employees to discuss their performance. Characteristics of effective feedback include: clarity in describing the assignment, directness combined with civility, timeliness, honesty, and being constructive rather than critical. Feedback should be delivered with concern for the other person.

If an employee is not performing as expected, follow the policies and procedures that the employer has for corrective action. “Letting it slide” for one employee and not another, can subject you to potential liability. Measure all employees’ performance on a regular basis.

4) Do Not Engage in Favoritism

Avoid favoritism at all costs. Often, supervisors and/or managers favor certain employees. By doing so, supervisors open the door to potential liability. It is possible that the less favored employee could take this as discrimination if he/she is in a protected class. Further, favoritism disrupts productivity and may result in an increased turnover rate. Therefore, be fair and equal and apply all policies and procedures consistently. Failure to do so could also subject you to claims of harassment, discrimination and favoritism.

5) The Supervisor as a Leader

It is essential that supervisors teach employees how to make day-to-day decisions. Further, supervisors should enable people to make a difference by setting strategic goals and seeing them through to completion. Supervisors should create a positive culture and encourage people to make the right decisions. Real culture is defined by employees seeing a supportive, respectful and professional environment. Therefore, it is important that supervisors set an example of leadership.

6) Open Communication

Create an environment of open communication. Such an atmosphere establishes trust and produces engagement. Further, open communication is likely to foster ideas and innovation. In addition, new supervisors are required to encourage reporting of harassment and discrimination. Creating an environment of open communication promotes employee reporting, which in turn is a factor in avoiding potential liability for the employer.

7) Document Employee Discipline

When taking an adverse employment action against an employee, an employer is required to have a legitimate, non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reason for doing so. Further, it is helpful to document issues leading to discipline. If you give an employee negative oral feedback and you see the problem is not improving, it is critical to document it, even with just an e-mail to the file. Documentation is essential to avoid potential liability. If corrective action is needed, apply it consistently.

8) Be Careful with E-Communications

E-mail is a great tool. However, misuse of e-mail can also cause problems. Always be professional in any type of e-communication. Avoid communication that can be construed as harassing, lewd, or discriminatory. Do not create e-mails or text messages on topics that are very confidential or controversial.

9) Promote Work/Life Balance

The majority of our lives are spent at work, away from our loved ones. Whether it’s time off for him/herself, family or vacation, everyone needs time to refresh. It is important for everyone to cherish their lives outside of work. Maintaining a balanced environment will reduce employee burnout and increase productivity.

10) Ask Questions!

Supervisors are not experts from the get go. Good supervisors typically have many years of experience. If you are unsure about something, do not hesitate to ask more senior supervisors and upper management.

Our firm provides Management Skills Development training for supervisors and managers. This training helps educate supervisors as well as experienced managers in dealing with their important responsibilities.

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