It is the supervisor’s task to lead the employees in his team, ensuring that they have the skills to communicate with each other and with other members of the organization effectively; trained and well-oriented on company rules, policies, and benefits; can boost the team’s productivity; appraise the team members objectively; resolve conflicts that may arise; and promote and improve positive employee relations. This Manual for Supervisors aims to guide the supervising personnel on the company practices with regard to these key points. Should additional information be needed, the supervisor is encouraged to discuss with his immediate superior for clarification and guidance.
Communication is an essential part of an organization. Without proper communication skills, teamwork and cooperation will hardly be possible. Communication requires certain roles to be played effectively. The roles include a sender of a message, a medium for the message, and a receiver for the message. Likewise, communication is not confined in spoken word. Written word, gestures, and actions may be used and interpreted to communicate messages as well. Supervisors must have the ability to communicate effectively, and empower his subordinates to do the same. This, in turn, empowers the organization.
The most common means of communication is through speech. It is important for corporate people to choose the words that they use in their communication with colleagues at work, be they superiors or subordinates. The following guidelines should be helpful in developing effective speech communication:
§ Ensure that your message is clear. Think about the message for a while before speaking out.
§ Make sure that the words you use are equivalent to the level of understanding that the receiver of your message has. As much as possible, avoid using very technical terms.
§ Listening is an essential yet often undermined part of communication. Listen when people speak to you, and encourage people to listen when you speak.
§ Let the speaker finish before interpreting the idea of what he is saying. This will avoid miscommunications which often lead to conflicts.
§ Ask questions or provide feedback to let the speaker know that you are listening and to obtain more information about the message.
Organizations always need to communicate through writing as well. Memos, letters, and other correspondences abound in offices, and supervisors must be able to create and approve effective written communication.
§ Make a format for memoranda, a different format for letters to clients, a different format for inter-office correspondence, and other templates for each form of correspondence.
§ Keep your correspondences short and simple. Be brief and direct to the point. This will save your time and the time of whoever is your recipient.
§ Mind the recipient of your correspondence attentively. Double-check designations and spelling of names to avoid any embarrassing mistakes.
§ Check and re-check your business letters for proper grammar and punctuation.
§ Write legibly. Better yet, have your correspondences formatted and type-set.
§ Sign your letters individually. Avoid using automated signatures as they are impersonal.
Gestures and Actions
Apart from spoken and written communication, gestures and actions are also useful in corporate communication. Oftentimes, they may be used to reinforce the message brought about by spoken messages. Sometimes, they are also used when the sender and the receiver of messages are far apart from each other, or if there is a barrier between them which disables them from speaking to each other. When using gestures and actions, one should be attentive to the meaning of the action and the gesture he is conveying. Negative postures and gestures should be avoided. Acting communication should also be used at a minimum, and only in certain informal occasions. Supervisors, most especially, should use gestures and actions appropriately.
Effective Orientation and Training Methods
One of a supervisor’s tasks is to orient new members of his team, and to promote trainings that will enhance their skills and capabilities. Thus, supervisors should be familiar with effective methods in orienting and training their team members.
Orientations should be set at a time where new recruits, the supervisor, and other members of the company who may be needed for the orientation is available. In carrying out an orientation, a manual or written guideline should be given to each new employee. The manual shall include the company policies, code of ethics, employee privileges, and other items in the guidelines. An attached acknowledgement receipt should be filled out by each employee and the supervisor must ensure to receive this for filing. A discussion of each of the items in the guidelines should be put into place. (New employee orientation, 2005) In doing so, supervisors should:
§ Lead the discussion and initiate thought-provoking questions for each new employee.
§ Encouraging each new employee to ask questions and seek clarifications along the way.
§ Create and fill out a checklist that will show him the topics to cover during the orientation, and to note down topics that will need to be covered in detail.
§ Provide real-life examples that will show the new employees exactly what the policies mean.
Orientations are specially designed for new employees. For existing employees and members of the company, supervisors are tasked to develop and implement trainings for different aspects of their employment. In doing so, supervisors should:
§ Assess the needs of the employees and formulate a need-specific training for the group
§ Create training materials and develop methods that will be interesting for the employees
§ Research for updated training methods and knowledge that are new to the employees
§ Set a training schedule that will be conducive for all trainers and trainees. This should be a schedule that will not affect the work responsibilities and the roles of the employees.
§ End trainings with assessments. Examinations and recitations may be used for evaluations.
§ Make trainings periodic such as annually or quarterly, making sure that all materials and methods are updated, and topics are suited to the needs of the employees.
There are different kinds of trainings that can be periodically given to existing employees. To name some are trainings for developing communication skills, teambuilding and performance improvement, product and company knowledge, and many others. In implementing trainings, the key is for supervisors to ensure that the company goals are met.
Improving Team Productivity
An essential benefit of trainings is that it can increase the productivity of employees. It gives them new knowledge and allows for a fresh start that motivates them to work more. However, it is equally important for productivity to be improved in terms of teams. Teamwork is an essential ingredient for companies to move forward. There are several ways in which a supervisor can help achieve this:
§ Discuss the vision and the mission of the company to the employees periodically. Have goals, and share this with the employees. Meetings will be a good opportunity to do so.
§ Create and schedule teambuilding activities. Use this as a time for bonding and for employees to get to know and be comfortable with each other.
§ Assign projects and responsibilities to pairs, triads, or groups once in a while. This will challenge the employees to accomplish tasks as teams and will improve team productivity.
§ Allow variations in work groupings. Break factions and re-assign each employee into different teams once in a while.
§ Allow teams to work at their own paces, but be strict with regard to deadlines. Supervisors need not monitor the teams on a daily basis unless very necessary. When teams are left to work among themselves, they learn teamwork and get a sense of responsibility for each other.
When teamwork is enhanced, each team member becomes individually productive while able to perform with concurrence to others making it easier for tasks to be accomplished.
Conducting Performance Appraisals
It is important for supervisors to evaluate and appraise the performance of the employees so that improvements and comments can be communicated as needed. It will also help the employees improve themselves in their chosen fields. Studies also showed that appraisals motivate employees because it gives them results. New employees are evaluated after six months of service. Thereafter, every employee is evaluated annually. In certain cases, employees may have to be evaluated randomly if there are disciplinary concerns or if the management deems that such is necessary. Here are things that supervisors will have to remember in conducting performance appraisals (Performance appraisals, n.d.):
§ Discuss with employees when performance appraisals are coming up, unless the evaluation is supposed to be unannounced. It is the employees’ right to know when appraisals will be.
§ Determine an effective means of appraising the employees’ performance. Incorporate existing appraisal methods with updated means to achieve maximal appraisals for employees.
§ Be objective. Set aside personal views and opinions when appraising the employees.
§ Be fair in evaluating employees’ performance by being truthful and factual.
§ Consider the position of the employee you are evaluating. Every position has different roles to play. Make sure that the factors for appraisal fit the position of the employee.
§ Be as accurate as possible. Employees will need to know how they are doing, and the company needs to know how their employees are doing.
§ Discuss the results of the appraisal to the employee. Be encouraging and suggest where improvements can be made. Make the discussion as positive as possible.
Diversity in organizations may sometimes result in conflicts and misunderstanding among employees. It is the supervisor’s task to detect and resolve these conflicts and ensure that they do not affect the professional roles and responsibilities of the employees. However, conflict resolution is not an easy task. The supervisor should be careful to fairly resolve the conflict and satisfy both parties while maintaining a supervisory image. Heathfield (2007) suggests the following interventions:
§ Face it that there is a conflict and that resolution will be necessary with your help.
§ Do not take sides. Be objective and invite the persons in conflict to a meeting where both of them will strive to be truthful and factual rather than strive to make you believe that theirs is the right position that you should take. This will eliminate the complications of lies.
§ Do not judge ether party. Be open to both sides, but be mum about who you think is right.
§ Gain primacy in the discussion. Manipulate it rather than be manipulated by it. When things heat up, take the initiative to cool things down.
§ Solicit from each party the things that they want to achieve out of the conflict, and strive that the parties meet in the middle and compromise.
§ Monitor the progress of the conflict and, as needed, review and meet with the parties again.
Should conflicts be more serious and involve disciplinary or grievance cases, the supervisor must consult the code of ethics of the company and handle the case with the help of established rules of the company.
Improving Employee Relations
It is the supervisor’s role to promote and maintain positive employee relations. While this may be difficult as differences and conflicts often arise in diverse settings such as a company, there are several ways that a supervisor can do to help instill the importance of good relations among employees.
§ Maintain positive professional relationship with all employees. The mantra should start in you. When you are friendly and approachable, the people around you will feel comfortable and do the same to you and to other members of the organization.
§ Accept the fact that the workplace is a place of different people with differing attitudes and convictions, and discuss this fact with the employees. Encourage them to accept this fact as well. Only when they have fully understood this concept can good relationships be made.
§ Endorse respect for differences. Do not condone discrimination in speech and in deed.
§ Encourage employees to talk out their conflicts and differences, and to seek help when things get out of hand. This will eliminate small issues from escalating into big controversies.
§ Discourage the culture of idle talk. It breeds lies, bad reputations, and disagreements.
The fewer conflicts the company have, the better relationship employees maintain. This makes it is easy for them to work together and focus on the goals of the company. There will be none of those awkward situations that often occur when there are conflicts, and it becomes easier to promote teamwork and cooperation among employees.
Supervising employees can be tedious. As a supervisor, one should remember that every employee is different and thus each should be treated differently. However, one premise remains consistently applicable to all members of the organization: respect. Supervisors should respect the employees, their rights, beliefs, convictions, and dreams. It is the supervisor who absorbs the different aspirations that each employee has, and it is his job to help the employees achieve them while helping the company reach its corporate goals.
Heathfield, S. 2007. Workplace conflict resolution: people management tips. Retrieved May 3, 2007, from http://humanresources.about.com/od/managementtips/a/conflict_solue.htm
New employee orientation. 2005. Retrieved May 3, 2007, from http://das.hre.iowa.gov/html_documents/ms_manual/07-05.htm
Performance appraisals. n.d. Retrieved May 3, 2007, from http://hal.lamar.edu/~ie_dept/underdown/org_management/Performance_Appraisals_George2.htm