– By Daniel Schmitt
The front-line communication to employees is almost never the leadership team or senior management. This means supervisor interpretation of a policy or practice produces the way the supervisor holds their respective staff accountable to perform their job. If you ask an executive of an organization what the culture is, or what a policy or practice is, they will share with you what policy or practice they desire and established. However, more often than you think, the actual practice or execution of the policy is far different that what was intended, and I might point out with no willful negative intent. This is just how it is when effective engagement, communication, and training is not present in an organization.
When challenges arise in the workplace, and employees are not doing what is expected, the supervisor is the first person to examine. It is their primary responsibility to provide their assigned staff the tools, resources, and support to be successful. If the supervisor is not doing this, or fails to set expectations and hold the staff consistently and fairly accountable, disparate practices happen. Not just from one supervisor to their staff, but from supervisor to supervisor across the workforce.
Your greatest asset includes the workforce itself. Your greatest risk is often those supervising this workforce in a manner that is inappropriate, inconsistent, discriminatory, or in some case just ineffectively all due to lack of oversight and more importantly training.
Take time, annually, to provide your people leaders strategic and structured training on managing people. This should include employment law, performance management, corrective action, documentation, leave laws, communication, and so on. Do not neglect your supervisors who face the challenges of people management daily. Instead, establish ongoing and periodic training to reinforce the skills in their toolbox and ensure they have the means to reach out confidently when they are challenged to get the right guidance and advice to manage their staff.