If you’ve got new, or recently promoted, supervisors or managers, see if any of these situations are familiar:
“Do you think you might be depressed?” asks the concerned, but untrained, boss. “I didn’t,” says the employee, under her breath, “but since you ‘regard me as disabled’ my ADA lawsuit will probably succeed.”
“I didn't think a woman with young children should have a job with so much travel, so I gave the promotion to John,” says the inexperienced new manager. “Actually," thinks the employee, "I won’t need a job at all after my discrimination lawsuit settles."
“Eight weeks off to take care of your mother? Hey, that’s not going to happen during our busy season!” declares the new supervisor, determined to be tough from the get-go, unaware that the door has just been opened for a lawsuit for interfering with family leave rights.
These supervisors are trying to be good bosses who do what’s best, but instead they are laying the groundwork for expensive lawsuits.
Operate in multiple states? That's a real compliance challenge, but with 50x50 (50 Employment Laws in 50 States); answers are at your fingertips. Wage/hour? Leave? Child labor? Discrimination? All there in easy-to-read chart form. Get more details.
Training, Training, Training.
But before that, the first thing to say to new supervisors and managers is, “until you have been trained, don't do anything related to HR without checking with me.”
Reason: You just can't have new supervisors firing from the hip in response to requests for FMLA leave, complaints about protected subjects (like pay or safety), requests for accommodation, and so on. There's little hope that they will get it right, and you'll be stuck dealing with the damage.
And while we're at it, you don't want them hiring, promoting, disciplining, or firing without your review either.
So instruct new supervisors and managers to check with you before dealing with any of these situations. Tell them to say, "I'll check up on that to be sure I'm
giving you a complete and accurate answer."
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The "break-in period" for new supervisors and managers is a particularly dangerous time, because they are eager to prove that they can be good, independent bosses. They won't want to come asking for help, and they don't like the idea that they need "babysitting."
You have to convince them that it's not a reflection on their abilities, it's just a routine requirement that they check with you before acting.
Until you train them, that is. Once trained, your new bosses will be more able to deal competently with the routine aspects of all their HR-related responsibilities.
In tomorrow’s Advisor, five basic rules for new supervisors and managers, plus an introduction to the unique 50x50—fifty rules in 50 states
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