HR Management & Compliance

Do Your Supervisors Need “Back-to-Basics” Training?

The information in this issue is adapted from the Ask the Trainer feature on BLR’s HR.BLR.com®.

The training question is, “How can back-to-basics training help supervisors develop a proactive, hands-on approach?”

Here is how our training expert responded:

Since many supervisors don’t receive training in basic supervisory skills, they tend to manage employees only when things go wrong, says Bruce Tulgan, founder of Rainmaker Thinking, Inc. (www.rainmakerthinking.com).

“The typical hands-off manager basically avoids performance problems until they can no longer be ignored,” Tulgan writes in his book, It’s Okay to Be the Boss: The Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming the Manager Your Employees Need (Collins, 2007). “But problems always come up. And by the time a problem can no longer be avoided, the dreaded confrontation is inevitable.”

Through training, however, supervisors can take a more hands-on approach and address problems before they escalate, Tulgan says, noting that highly engaged supervisors set clear expectations, monitor performance regularly, and provide ongoing feedback.


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Tulgan teaches the following eight back-to-basics steps, which are also chapter titles in his book, to help supervisors become more hands-on:

  1. Get in the habit of managing every day. Spend 1 hour daily providing guidance and support to employees. “Think of it as taking a walk every day,” Tulgan says. “You don’t take a 10-mile run every third Saturday to get in shape.”
  1. Learn to talk like a performance coach. “Focus on the individual’s performance and provide honest, candid evaluations,” he says.
  1. Take it one person at a time. “Customize your management style accordingly,” he explains.
  1. Make accountability a real process. Make sure employees know in advance that they will be held accountable for their actions and that “there is a fair and accurate process for keeping track of their actions and tying their behavior to real consequences,” Tulgan says.
  1. Tell people what to do and how to do it. Provide clear expectations upfront.
  1. Track performance every step of the way. “And track it in writing,” Tulgan says.
  1. Solve small problems before they turn into big problems. Don’t ignore small problems.
  1. Do more for some people and less for others. Reward high performers for their hard work.

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In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll we get more expert advice on training new supervisors and explore an effective training resource for supervisors that educates on key HR topics in 10 minutes flat!