Miscellaneous / A Comprehensive Best Practices Manual For New Supervisors

A Comprehensive Best Practices Manual For New Supervisors

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Autor:  anton  15 May 2011
Tags:  Comprehensive,  Practices,  Manual,  Supervisors
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A Comprehensive Best Practices Manual for New Supervisors

Welcome to the wonderful world of supervisory duties. The following manual will help guide you through your days as a supervisor with the company. There are many important parts that make up good supervisory skills. Some of the most important are outlined in this manual.


1. Demonstrating Communication Skills

a. Listening

b. Speaking

2. Determining Effective Orientation and Training Methods

a. Company polices

b. Employee Training

3. Improving Productivity for Teams

a. Team Morale

b. Delegating responsibility

4. Conducting Performance Appraisals

a. What is it?

b. Methods of Review

5. Resolving conflict

a. Recognizing potential problems

b. Dealing with the situation

6. Improving Employee Relations

a. Discipline

b. Complaints

1.A - Demonstrating Communication Skills - Listening

The demonstration of communication skills is important to supervisors. If your employees sense that you communicate well, they will be more comfortable in taking instructions from you. In communication as a supervisor, you will find that 55% of your communication will be in listening while 22% will involve speaking, while the remaining 23% will be in other ways (Rue & Byars, 2004).

Listening to the employees will help in a variety of ways. Listening will help you gain knowledge of the people that you are responsible for. You can gain knowledge and insight on their skills, their weaknesses, their complaints, and even their ideas. Active listening is how we listen and actually comprehend what the other person is saying. An active listener has to be focused on what the speaker is saying so that they will be ready with the correct response.

If you are not listening to what your employees have to say, you are missing out on a great deal of useful information. In order to give feedback in any situation В– you have to be actively listening to your group.

1.B - Demonstrating Communication Skills В– Speaking

Most of our spoken communication comes in the form of informal conversations that take place all over the office from the break room to the cafeteria, according to Rue and Byars in Supervision: Key link to productivity. As a supervisor you must learn the skills to speak to your employees without speaking at them. People do not like to be spoken down to by anyone. Making someone uncomfortable when you speak to them by demanding things or barking orders is not necessarily a good way to go. It will cause resentment and make people feel as if you are throwing your weight around. By making eye contact, being enthusiastic, and being clear when giving instructions В– you can accomplish many things. Take for example you are telling the employees that you supervise about an upcoming project that is important to the entire departments upcoming raise В– you would not stare at the floor and speak in a monotonous tone that is barely audible. You would speak clearly and concisely with some excitement in your voice and a smile on your face. This type of communication can work to motivate them to do what needs to be done. If you give then the feeling that you do not give a darn В– they will probably perform as if they do not give a darn.

Another good practice for speaking is to make sure you know what you are going to say when you say it. Make it sound like you know what you are talking about В– even if in your mind you may be a bit unsure.

2.A В– Determining Effective Orientation and Training Methods В– Company Policies

The first task of orientation and training is to make new employees aware of the policies of the company. This is important so that they know from the beginning what the rules and regulations are and what is expected of them as an employee. Using the employee handbook as an outline is an easy way to go about this; although it is more likely that you will have their attention if you present it in an interesting way versus just standing at a podium reading it to them. They could read it themselves В– but you could give them the highlights along with examples in the form of a PowerPoint or some other type of delivery method that includes examples.

An employee should understand company policy. This will insure that they will not make simple mistakes that could cause reprimands against them. They should feel confident as to whether what they are doing is what they are supposed to be doing. After presenting the policies В– you should be confident that you have presented it in a way that will most likely stay in the employees' minds.

2.B В– Determining Effective Orientation and Training Methods В– Employee Training

The key to training new employees in any business is to make sure they have the required information to do the job before they actually start the job. It is suggested by Dr. John Sullivan that "HR needs to start making the beginning of a new job a celebration and a process to make the new hire productive right out of the gate!" (The New Hire Orientation Toolkit) He speaks of how it is important to make sure the employee feels as if they are embarking on an adventure. You should not run into some of the horrors such as just giving the employee a handbook the size of encyclopedia with ten minutes to look over it, leaving it to boring videos to do orientation, just giving the employee a handful of forms to fill out, or just escorting them to a cubicle with no information as to contacts within the company and such.

Training an employee is as important as teaching a child new skills. If you want them to produce quality work from the start В– then they should know how to do it correctly from the start. Learning by example is a quick way to jump start the training process. Let the new employee see first hand how things are done.

By watching employees doing the exact things that they will be doing, the new trainees will be able to see the ups and downs of the everyday work. To try to tell someone what they will be doing for the next few years of their careers in ten minutes does not give them enough information to go on. That is why training should be done over several days to weeks depending on the complexity of the tasks to be performed.

3.A В– Improving Productivity for Teams В– Team Morale

Team morale is especially important in motivating employees. "One of the questions I'm most frequently asked is В‘How can we improve morale?' Because morale affects every aspect of a company's competitive advantage, it's an important question to ask." says David Lee a speaker, consultant, and author of Human Nature @Work. He suggests that morale is not improved in one grand gesture В– it is improved one interaction at a time. He believes that instead of having large ceremonies and such В– the morale is more affected on a day to day interaction basis. Just be giving the proper encouragement each day and giving praise for a job well done as the job is completed В– has a more lasting effect on the employees morale.

Be sure that if morale becomes a problem to look within you. A morale problem may begin with the supervisor not the employees. If you are not showing motivation В– then that is perhaps why the employees are not.

3.B В– Improving Productivity for Teams В– Delegating Responsibilities

Being able to know which responsibilities to delegate is as important as knowing when to delegate. "Failure to delegate is probably the most frequent reason that supervisors fail in their jobs." (Rue & Byars, 2004) Some supervisors do not delegate because they have the attitude that if they want some thing done right then they should do it themselves. The fact is, if their employees are trained properly, they should not have to worry about their abilities to carry out tasks unsupervised. "Successful delegation involves three basic steps:

(1) Assigning work to the different employees in the work group,

(2) Creating an obligation (responsibility and accountability) on the part of each employee to perform the duties satisfactorily, and

(3) Granting permission (authority) to take the actions necessary to perform the duties. Thus, successful delegation involves the delegation of both authority and responsibility." (Rue & Byars, 2004)

Giving individuals these responsibilities shows them your confidence in them as employees and makes them more determined to do a good job.

4.A В– Conducting Performance Appraisals В– What is it?

Rue and Byars describes the performance evaluation as this:

"Performance appraisal is a process that involves communicating to an employee how well

the employee is performing the job and also, ideally, involves establishing a plan for

improvement. Performance appraisals are used for many purposes in organizations. Among

these purposes are wage and salary administration, promotions or demotions, transfers, layoffs,

discharges, counseling with employees, and human resources planning. Performance

appraisal systems have three principal purposes: (1) to improve employee performance in

the present job, (2) to prepare employees for future opportunities that may arise in the

organization, and (3) to provide a record of employee performance that can be used as a

basis for future management decisions."

By evaluating the employees on a regular basis, you build a complete personnel file for each employee that can be used for future reference. It is not a good practice to only bring an employee in for evaluation when you have a problem with their work. The one on one time give the employee an opportunity to voice their opinions without being worried about their co-workers reaction to them.

4.B В– Conducting Performance Appraisals В– Methods of Reviews

There are several different methods one could use to do performance appraisals. Each has its good points as well as bad points. Using the type that best suits the type of work and number of employees to be reviewed can play a part in what type of reviews to do.

The graphic rating scale is the most commonly used and evaluates all employees on the same plane. The downside of it is that it is general in nature without much room to elaborate on the reasoning for making the choice of the given choices. This can cause the supervisor to rate an employee above average or below average.

Essay appraisals are just as the name implies В– a writing process that tells in short paragraphs of the employee's performance. These are somewhat time consuming for supervisors. It makes it difficult to compare employee appraisals. Having strong writing skills is helpful when using this type of appraisal.

The checklist method is the type where you are given a list of questions that you answer yes or no about each employee. They are then scored by the human resources personnel, which leaves the supervisor unable to know how the scores will turn out on each employee, although they can judge by the type of question how their answer will impact the rating. This is a quick and easy method, but it leaves room for biased answers.

The forced choice method is another method where the supervisor has no knowledge of the scoring process. You will be given two statements that you have to choose which best fits the employee. It may seem that neither do В– but one must be chosen. This cuts out the possibility of bias by the supervisor.

In critical incident appraisals В– you must be good at record keeping on each employee so that you have something to draw upon at the review. This requires keeping notes of any incidents whether it is good or bad. I like to think of it as a journal of the employee's performance. You keep records of the good as well as the bad aspects.

The work standards approach is used to evaluate on a production of work basis. It is best used in the types of industry where there is something actually being made. It is hard to come up with a fair measure of work from those who have office type duties.

Ranking methods work best in larger companies because it compares a group of employees against one another. It puts them in a list from best to worst at a job. There are different ways to come up with the rankings В– and it is easily biased. This method singles out employees that a supervisor may feel to be weak.

Management by objectives is the method where the employee and the supervisor comes up with what they feel needs to be accomplished by the employee over a specific time period. At the end of the period, the employee is evaluated on whether the goals have been reached. This type of evaluation seems to give the employee the freedom to work at their own pace as they have a say in what their work objectives are.

Regardless of the type used, it is important to keep good records of all performance evaluations.

5.A В– Resolving Conflict В– Recognizing Potential Problems

Conflicts are an everyday fact of life. Although conflicts are not always a bad thing, they still need to be handled in a professional way. There is a "life cycle" that conflicts follow В– that if recognized can help us deal with them more efficiently. At first, there are favorable conditions for conflicts to happen, but it has not been noticed yet. Then the recognition of the conflict by those involved arises. After this, tensions may build between those in the conflict, but there is still nothing being expressed in the open. This leads to the building up of emotions that when released, produces the actual conflict. Then once it is out in the open, it can be resolved using several methods.

5.B Resolving Conflict В– Dealing with the situation

Now that you have a conflict В– what do you do about it? That depends upon the type of conflict and how escalated it has became.

There are several different types of conflicts В– but as the supervisor, you are the referee in these situations. Your employees look to you for the solution.

To help avoid conflicts, you can reduce stress in the workplace. Stress is a major cause of conflict. Having a clear schedule and everyone being fully aware of your expectations of them is a great way to reduce workplace stress.

If employees have conflicts with each other В– be sure to stay neutral and listen to both sides before acting on the solution. This keeps things fair for all involved.

6.A В– Improving Employee Relations В– Discipline

Having a disciplinary program can help to make sure things run smoothly. It also insures that we can treat all employees equally when they break the rules. Whether it is being late for work or being performing illegal acts В– the most important is that they KNOW the rules and what the disciplinary actions are for not following those rules. This goes back to effective orientation and training. The handbook tells of the rules and reprimands for breaking them. There are steps to follow in disciplining an employee.

1. They should be given an oral warning for breaking a rule.

2. If the same rule is broken В– they are given a written warning that they must acknowledge by signing.

3. If it continues В– suspension will occur with the length of suspension depending on the offense.

4. The last resort will have to be the firing of the employee.

6.B В– Improving Employee Relations В– Complaints

Any employee that is reprimanded may feel as if they were treated unfairly. It is very important to keep records of all disciplinary actions and grievances that the employees may have. Some complaints may arise out of no action as well. If employees feel as if they are treated unfairly they will want to band together against the "forces of evil" to try to change things. Having a system in place to deal with complaints will be a wise investment of time. Following the procedure in dealing with the complaints can help to reduce the number of actions taken by employees as a group such as a union. This is another time where communication is a key factor in the supervisors' abilities.


Lee, David, January, 2004. Are you Really Serious about Improving Morale? Retrieved October 2, 2007. http://www.humannatureatwork.com/employee-morale-article-2.htm

Rue, L.W. & Byars, L.L. (2004). Supervision: Key link to productivity (8th ed.) New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin

The New Orientation Tool Kit Part 2, Gatley Consutlting, 2007. Retrieved September 23, 2007, http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/gately/pp15js24.htm.

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