It is quite a big leap to make the transition from team member to leader, and many new supervisors are not prepared for the challenges that await them. HR is a big part of the promotion process when the decision is made to move someone into a supervisory role, and it is important that we’re supporting new supervisors and giving them the tools to succeed as leaders. This includes training, ongoing support and mentorship.
Making the Jump from Employee to Supervisor
Promoting from within is a good way to retain employees who are looking to grow in their career. Current employees also bring knowledge of how the company works and familiarity with your brand, policies and procedures. They have demonstrated their skills, so you know their strengths and areas for improvement before they start the new position.
One of the biggest challenges for employees who are newly promoted into a leadership role is the shift in the relationship with the people who used to be coworkers. When training new supervisors, be honest about this shift, and be prepared to be a sounding board as new supervisors try to navigate the changed relationship. This means supervisors should not be gossiping about employees to their team members, and they should avoid using their team as a source for complaining about work.
Some new managers think they will jump into a management role and change everything for the better in the first few days. The reality is that change takes time even if trying to make things better. Remind new supervisors to take things slowly and get acclimated to leadership before making changes that may cause tension in the team.
Designing Robust Training
A big part of a supervisor's job is the time spent managing people; therefore, management training should include things like communication, performance management, conflict resolution, compliance and leadership. Give general leadership training as well as specifics on how things are done at your company. This should include a review of the employee handbook because new supervisors will now be responsible for enforcing company policies.
Determine what type of training format will work best for supervisors at your company. You can vary your format depending on the topic. I love classroom-based training because it allows for interaction and is an easy format for questions. This type of training is especially useful for topics like harassment prevention and other big compliance issues when you want to ensure that participants are actively engaged in the training.
Include relevant examples in supervisory training. Incorporate scenarios and stories about situations that have happened in the workplace. Make it interactive by giving participants the scenario and asking what they would do in the situation. This can be especially helpful when discussing performance management, communication or conflict resolution.
Do not forget to include technology training if relevant. Sometimes being a supervisor means learning how to use systems that process things like timecards or orders, so be sure your new supervisors get the training they need in these areas. New supervisors may be able to access online training to learn the programs and systems they need to do their jobs.
Provide Ongoing Support
It is not enough to just provide supervisory training classes and then send a new supervisor on their way. Ongoing support is important if a supervisor is going to be successful. Check in regularly with the new supervisor to see how things are going and to discuss areas where they are struggling. When helping a supervisor through a difficult employee situation, debrief afterward to discuss what went well and what could have been done better.
New supervisors need to know that they can come to HR when they are struggling, so be open and receptive when they ask for help. Pair new supervisors up with a mentor who can also provide ongoing support. This gives a new supervisor an additional channel for getting guidance.
It’s also a good idea to set up regular training as well. This is a good way for new and veteran supervisors alike to review policies and procedures, refresh leadership skills and to learn new technology.
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Stephanie Hammerwold, PHR is the owner of Hammerwold & Pershing Consulting and specializes in small business HR needs. Hammerwold writes about HR topics relevant to the small business community and gives presentations on a variety of job search and workplace topics. She specializes in training, employee relations, women's issues, and writing employment policies.
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