Supervisor Training – The Safety Guys Weigh In

Supervisor training is becoming a hot topic as companies look for ways to raise productivity and reduce costs.   Last week I had the pleasure of leading a discussion at the  ASSE Bayou Chapter meeting in Thibodaux, Louisiana.

The main question I asked them was this: Based on what you see going on in the field, what should a training program teach your supervisors to help make them effective?

We have tried to incorporate the skill sets supervisors need to succeed in our supervisor leadership classes, but I wanted to find out what the meeting participants thought.  In setting up the discussion, I presented them with the results of some studies that looked at the company benefits from the right supervisor/manager training:

  • Training supervisors how to communicate with and assist injured workers reduced new disability claims 47% and Lost Time Injuries by 18% – Liberty Mutual Institute
  • Training reduced turnover at a hotel chain by 40% and increased employee satisfaction by 10%  – University  of Central Florida Study
  • “Corrective observations” training increased safety compliance at a food products provider by 26%  – Alchemy food service consultants

Then I asked the safety pros what they thought supervisors needed to know.  Here is their list:

  1. Communications skills and how to communicate with different types of personalities
  2. How to prioritize
  3. Managing resources, including the crew’s time and available  physical resources
  4. Knowing who and where to go for support
  5. Roles and responsibilities (both supervisor, crew and managers)
  6. Managing for performance (looking at employees , skills and competencies they have and working on skills they need – craft and soft skills)
  7. Know what toolbox looks like: What workers know and what they don’t/Resources within the company – how to make sure they can access information/policies/help when they need it
  8. Don’t be a buddy/ be a boss/ respect boundaries
  9. Consistency in showing compassion and care when needed
  10. Get the facts – Training on making informed decisions
  11. Interpersonal skills ( balancing the need to understand human nature of crew and situational awareness.  Acting on facts, but understanding the people factor
  12. Teaching supervisors what the goals of the company are and how to make goals clear to the crew.  If we don’t tell them what we are trying to accomplish, they will come up with their own version, right or wrong
  13. Adaptability – change is constant.  Their role is to make it successful
  14. Professionalism
  15. How to delegate and motivate – we promote people because they can do the job, but they need to learn how to help someone else do the job

I hope you agree that is a pretty good list.  We’ll be going back through our own training program to make sure we are touching on the important items.

Ready to turn your supervisors into leaders?  Contact us about scheduling one of our “Buddy-to-Boss” classes at


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