New supervisors and managers try to do the best job they can, but their good intentions often backfire. Instead, they lay the groundwork for expensive lawsuits. The solution is training, training, and more training, but where do you start?
New supervisors are overwhelmed by their new responsibilities. They have to forge new relationships with people who were formerly colleagues. They have to submit weekly reports. And they try to be “Real Bosses.”
Here are five quick rules to get your new supervisors and managers through their first 90 days:
Rule 1. No Rush
As we mentioned in yesterday’s Advisor, the first thing to get across to new supervisors and managers is that they don’t have to make instant decisions. They can step back and seek advice before taking action.
Rule 2. Appearances Count
Supervisors and managers also need to know that appearances count. If they fire someone the day after he or she does something that is protected, that will give the appearance of retaliation, even if there was no retaliatory intent.
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Rule 3. The Stakes Are High
The lawsuits that may be filed over supervisory mistakes can be very expensive. Even when the company “wins” a suit, it has probably spent over $100,000 in legal fees, and that figure doesn’t include the lost time and productivity and perhaps bad publicity that could damage the organization’s brand.
Rule 4. It’s Easy to Check with HR
We’re not trying to say that managers and supervisors can’t ever act. The point is that until they are trained, it’s very easy for them to unintentionally create a very expensive problem. HR is there and ready to counsel them if they encounter a sticky problem before their training is complete.
Rule 5. Lots of Rules
There are a lot of rules that govern supervisors’ conduct. The most important are rules concerning:
- Discrimination. They can’t ever take any action based on a protected characteristic like sex, race, age, or religion.
- Retaliation. They can’t take action against someone for doing something he or she has a right to do, for example:
- Making a complaint about safety, or wages, or discrimination;
- Requesting leave to care for a sick child;
- Asking for time off to attend religious ceremonies; or
- Taking time for jury duty.
- Harassment. Managers and supervisors have to be careful that their actions are not interpreted as harassment. Because of their new power, they should be wary of appearing to be wielding that power over subordinates.
Of course, these are all things not to do. But supervisors also have a positive role to encourage retention and engagement.
Effective leaders must find ways to enhance people’s level of engagement, commitment, and support, especially in the difficult periods all organizations experience at one time or another. Engaged employees work with passion and feel connected and loyal to their organization. This yields higher productivity, sales, and results. Nonengagement in the workplace results in poor performance, limited productivity, and an erosion of the bottom line.
Bottom line, people need consistent affirmation of their value and contribution to the organization in order to know that their efforts are appreciated.
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Ensuring your supervisors and managers are properly trained and encouraged is especially important in organizations with small HR departments. If such an organization can avoid costly rookie mistakes from its supervisors, it makes less work for already-strained HR departments.
Another tool that can ease the burden is BLR’s Managing an HR Department of One. This resource is unique in addressing the special pressures small HR departments face. Here are some of its features:
- Explanation of how HR supports organizational goals. This section explains how to probe for what your top management really wants and how to build credibility in your ability to deliver it.
- Overview of compliance responsibilities through a really useful, 2-page chart of 23 separate laws that HR needs to comply with. These range from the well-known Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and new healthcare reform legislation, to lesser-known but equally critical rules, such as Executive Order 11246. Also included are examples of federal and state posting requirements. (Proper postings are among the first things a visiting inspector looks for—especially now that the minimum wage has been repeatedly changing.)
- Training guidelines. No matter the size of your company, expect to conduct training. Some of it is required by law; some of it just makes good business sense. Managing an HR Department of One walks you through how to train efficiently and effectively with a minimum of time and money.
- Prewritten forms, policies, and checklists. These are enormous work savers! Managing an HR Department of One has 46 such forms, from job applications and background check sheets to performance appraisals and leave requests, in both paper and PDF format.
If you’d like a more complete look at what Managing an HR Department of One covers, view the Table of Contents. Or, better yet, take a look at the entire program. We’ll send it to you for 30 days’ evaluation in your own office with no obligation to buy. Click here, and we’ll be happy to make the arrangements.