training for supervisorsI attended a new supervisor training session a few years ago, and it left me with some strong feelings about how to run a supervisor training program. I think the way it’s traditionally been done is a poor method for teaching managers what they need to know, but I haven’t decided on the right combination of teaching tools/methods that would be most effective. The one thing I know for sure is that it needs to change.

I ran across this site recently and had to laugh. It is a common theme that I’ll get a call because I’m the “computer guy” in the family. With Teach Parents Tech you have the option of sending video links directly to those who need assistance. That allows you to indirectly teach your parents/grandparents/in laws/whoever how to do computer tasks from simple (changing your computer’s clock) to advanced (changing your email address).

Why can’t we do that?

Then I started thinking about other applications. What if you could do the same for your supervisors? What if there was a neat way like this to teach them the basic principles of good management? Would you use the tool?

For instance, a new supervisor runs into a situation (giving feedback on poor performance, motivating employees in a slump, giving a presentation to senior management, etc.). They don’t have someone available to ask for help, so they pop onto the web and find the video that corresponds with that particular situation.

No, it’s not a perfect substitute for an in-person chat with someone who already knows how to do the task, but it’s better than going into the situation blind-folded. Just a little bit of preparation could go a long way in most instances.

A few situations I think would be neat to cover:

  • How to give accurate, honest feedback
  • Why documentation is essential
  • The wide world of terminations
  • Harassment, discrimination, and lawsuits, o my!
  • Safety and security in the workplace
  • How to train someone
  • Coaching and mentoring your staff
  • Building and managing teams
  • Developing and pursuing a vision
  • And tons more!

What do you think? Are there other scenarios that you think they run into on a daily basis that they could use some new supervisor training on?

AKA A Short Story About Feedback

I was talking with my manager the other day after not seeing her for a few days, and before I could stop myself the words just started tumbling out of my mouth:

I know you haven’t been in the office much lately, and when you have, you’ve been so busy that the door’s closed most of the time. But after losing contact on some of the projects we’re working on I start to wonder, “Is it me? Did I do something wrong?” I start to second guess myself even when there’s nothing going on. Are we good?

Her response? Continue reading

My first concurrent session at HR Florida was titled “Developing an Effective, No Cost Recognition Program.” Truthfully, it was my second choice because the other one I wanted to attend was unavailable, but it was a suitable replacement. The speaker, Todd Efird, gave us some great information on using recognition at work. While the examples focused around construction safety, there were still some solid takeaways for someone working in a corporate environment.

Incentives: doing it wrong and doing it right

It’s the classic problem with workplace safety incentive programs, really. When you base someone’s incentive on not reporting accidents and injuries, you have unintended consequences like suppressed reporting, a negative view of the program, etc.

Instead of following the old mentality, a better, more effective way of operating the program is to incorporate positive recognition that is timely, relevant, sincere, and tied to individual performance.

Praise vs. Recognition

One of the best comments during the session was when the speaker differentiated between praise and recognition at work.

  • Praise is basically a quick, simple “attaboy” or “attagirl” for a job well done. For example, telling someone “Great job on that presentation” is praise.
  • Recognition is a two-way communication that requires a confirmation from the employee. For example, telling someone “I thought that presentation was killer, what about you?” is a way of making sure they understand the feedback and it opens the dialog for further interaction/engagement.

Leaving that response open ended is the key, really. Allowing someone to respond with a “yes” or “no” will not necessarily get the results you’re looking for. Conversely, if you leave the conversation hanging and allow them to respond, you not only get potentially valuable information, but you also continue the conversation and make it memorable in their mind.

Open ended questions also help supervisors to lead people to the right answer. That flies in the face of the old school “catch them doing it wrong” type thinking.

Key quotes/takeaways

  1. Most employees know what you don’t want already. Share with them what you do want. Then recognize them when they do it.
  2. If you’re wanting to recognize people, keep looking for the right they’re doing, not the wrong. More people are doing it right than wrong at any given moment.
  3. Start meetings with “here’s how we did well” instead of “here’s where you screwed up.” That approach opens people up to feedback.
  4. Find out if employees want to get recognition in front of peers or not. Some studies show hourly workers want it privately so they aren’t seen as “sucking up” to the boss.
  5. Every organization has people who are impervious to positive recognition/feedback efforts. They’re called CAVEmen: Citizens Against Virtually Everything.

All in all it was a fantastic session and I’m glad I attended. We have some recognition tools we’re using currently, but these free, relatively simple concepts can have a major impact on the people nonetheless.

Stay tuned for more posts coming to you live from HR Florida 2011!

Managers and employees have an interesting relationship. Despite the time they spend together and the need for solid communication, it sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. It takes work to make communication happen, and I like to use four questions to jump start the process.

(Subscribers may need to click through to view the video) Continue reading

Gossip is degrading and will destroy an organization.  It is important to develop and maintain a culture in which negatives are handed up and positives are handed down. –Dave Ramsey

What would happen if your employer banned office gossip? How would people react? Well, a company led by Dave Ramsey did just that, and they\’ve had some interesting results.

Below is the link to the audio file so you can listen to the explanation for yourself (and you should!). I\’d love to hear your opinion of the policy. Is it feasible? Would you like to work for a company with a “no gossip” policy? Why?

“No gossip policy” audio

Photo by babrosa.