The ongoing, effective coaching, training and managing of supervisors should be a part of every organization’s performance management program
Today’s post is by Marta Moakley, JD, MA, Legal Editor at XpertHR.
Conscientious employers emphasize comprehensive supervisor training in order to minimize the organization’s overall liability risks. However, the depth and breadth of supervisor training options must be carefully considered for strategic, compliance, performance, and financial impacts.
For example, merely mimicking a peer’s practices could result in a laundry list of training “needs” that result in paltry returns on the organization’s investment. In addition, overbooking training sessions in a way that does not allow the material to truly sink in for supervisors could result in a trainee’s surface-level understanding of concepts.
This may be perfectly acceptable for a limited number of subject areas (for example, a supervisor need not know the intricacies of wage and hour law so long as he or she can respect a rest break). However, for some crucial concepts (e.g., the understanding of a supervisor’s role within the organization), a supervisor’s firm grasp of what is truly at stake is essential for an employer to be able to ensure compliance with legal and ethical responsibilities.
Surface-level comprehension of a supervisor’s role may result in a “jack of all trades, master of none” scenario, where a supervisor may:
- Know something about coaching, but not excel at it;
- Be aware of a corporate policy on workplace romances, but ignore it; or
- Fail to pass on to HR important information regarding a safety violation, until it is too late.
For an organization to succeed, it should adequately invest in its supervisors in order to support and advance employees. Developing customized training curricula, which furthers business mission statements and goals, for both new and seasoned managers will assist in those individuals achieving mastery in their leadership roles.
Avoiding an organization replete with “Masters of None” demands that decision makers focus on what is truly important to the organization. This includes:
- Understanding what constitutes business success;
- Gauging essential training options and listing preferred training sessions; and
- Evaluating training options.
Achieving mastery of supervisory roles and responsibilities requires an emphasis on “virtuous leadership.” Leaders often exhibit the four classical cardinal virtues:
- Prudence – or self-discipline; the prevalence of reason; having good judgment. Prudence is the opposite of negligence, which leads to greater liability risks in corporate settings.
- Justice – or the proper administration of work rules and the fair application of workplace policies. Just supervisors understand the unbiased application of laws, policies and work rules, thereby reducing the likelihood of charges of discrimination or retaliation.
- Temperance (moderation) – or the ability to provide moderate responses; displaying level-headedness in relating both to subordinates, peers and those up the chain of command; having a talent for resolving or dissuading conflicts.
- Courage – or overcoming fear or difficulties in order to persevere. Developing one’s strength in addressing unfairness, workplace challenges or unlawful behavior, as well as exploring new possibilities for business success, are the traits of a true corporate leader.
Directing those in leadership track positions to embrace these virtues reinforces the overall organization as one that is emblematic of these qualities. The best supervisors not only model these virtues as individuals, but also attempt to engender these traits in subordinates.
Senior management should support supervisors as needed through their learning and development journey by fostering an environment that values fair communications and feedback. Specifically, senior management should focus on training curricula that prepare and support a supervisor’s attainment of the four classical virtues because doing so will foster business success.
Defining Business Success
Strategic training decisions must be driven by business needs and goals. An understanding of the following is necessary for defining business success through training:
- Corporate mission statements;
- Goals and objectives; and
- Compliance obligations, taking into account federal, state and municipal requirements.
Any decision on (1) which training would be provided to (2) which sets of supervisors must be an individualized one for an organization. In addition to corporate goals and objectives, the decision should take into account job analysis, development objectives and succession planning concerns.
Simply put, when making decisions regarding supervisor training, it’s imperative that an organization does what is best for business. For some companies, business needs may be most affected by certain compliance issues; for others, specific industry practices will dictate certain aspects of training.
Failing to conduct an individualized assessment and merely following existing training trends may result in overspending on a useless exercise. Likewise, foregoing needed training because other companies have failed to invest in it is not the most informed way to approach the issue.
Refining and targeting the training needs assessment process will ensure that supervisors exhibit virtuous leadership qualities and continue to focus on furthering business goals. Organizations that carefully assess their individualized supervisor training needs will encourage managers to attain personal development goals, and avoid the “jack of all trades, master of none” trap.
– Marta Moakley, JD covers topics related to HR strategy and management, employee relations and employee communications at XpertHR. Read Marta’s blogs on the XpertHR Blog. Marta holds a Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University Law Center and a Master of Arts in English from Florida International University. Prior to joining XpertHR, she worked as an Assistant Attorney General with the Florida Attorney General’s Office and as an Equal Opportunity Specialist for the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
Did you enjoy this post? If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog. It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!). SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!