Question:  I am a new supervisor and have not yet received training on how to effectively manage employees. Do you have any tips for me?


Answer:  Congratulations! Your new role will require a different perspective and new skills. Here are some tips to help you successfully manage employees and minimize liability in the process.
1.  Document the Good and the Bad:  Regularly document conversations you have with employees about their performance. Date and sign your notes, give examples, be objective, and review the notes with the employee after you have discussed the performance issue to help the employee understand expectations and improve performance.
2.  Give Honest Performance Reviews:  Although it may be uncomfortable, it is important to clearly communicate criticisms if the employee needs to improve performance. Be specific in describing expectations and deficiencies. Avoid words like “needs improvement,” “lazy,” and “bad attitude”; these are vague and do not communicate what conduct needs improvement.
3.  Make Reasoned Disciplinary Decisions:  Before you decide to discipline or discharge an employee, carefully review all facts concerning performance issues. Review the employee’s personnel file and company policies regarding the potential disciplinary issue. Confirm that the employee was aware of the policy and performance expectations. Give the employee the opportunity to explain the conduct. When appropriate, conduct an investigation. Make sure the discipline imposed is consistent with actions toward other employees.
4.  Exercise Caution in Electronic Communications:  Your emails, texts, tweets, and posts are potential evidence. People tend to be less formal when using these, leading to inappropriate communications that create liability. Electronic messages can be retrieved, so even if you think you have deleted something it can usually be discovered. A good rule of thumb is not to send anything you would not feel comfortable reading as a headline in the
5.  Retain Evidence:  In your day-to-day work, you probably are not thinking about evidence. But if you have an employee who frequently makes errors in memos or reports and you do not keep those, you will not have evidence you may need to support discipline or discharge. Use documents as teaching tools to coach employees on how to improve, and keep the documents to support any disciplinary action that may be needed if the employee does not improve.
 6.  Keep an Open Door:  Make sure your employees know they can use you as a resource for improving their skills, and that you welcome their feedback and suggestions. Foster a team approach at work, and even if you do not agree with an employee’s input, be respectful and listen with an open mind.
7.  Treat Employees Consistently:  When supervising your employees, be objective and consistent. When there are business or legal reasons to treat employees differently, be sure to document the reasons. For example, if an employee is late to work because of a medical condition and is not disciplined, and another is late and is disciplined, document the difference.
8.  Know and Consistently Enforce Company Policies:  As a supervisor, you are responsible for knowing company policies and explaining them to employees when needed, and for enforcing the policies in an even handed manner.
These are just some suggestions for you in your new role as supervisor. There are many good training programs that can help you develop your skills.