Companies are spending more on training each year, more than $1200 per employee according to training industry surveys. But what do we spend it on? For many companies the biggest chunk goes to new hire orientation training and annual refresher compliance training. But smart companies know that is not where they get their biggest return on investment. It is in supervisor and manager training.
According to a study by Deloitte, American businesses spend $70 billion a year and corporate training is growing by 15% a year. The question is not whether your company needs to train employees; it is where your investment in training will have the biggest payoff.
The evidence is growing that spending on training for your supervisors and front line managers may be the best investment of your training dollars if you want to increase productivity, improve safety culture and reduce the cost and severity of injuries. Part of this is just commonsense. Supervisors spend more time with employees and have more direct impact on shaping attitudes, engagement and culture than any other position within a company. In companies where new workers learn on the job, supervisors may have the most important role in the company.
Now research from Liberty Mutual Insurance shows that training supervisors in the soft skills of how to communicate with and gain the trust of an injured worker is a significant factor in how long that worker stays off the job and the severity of certain injuries. The study looked at work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs), such as low back pain and upper extremity disorders. They found that the supervisor’s interaction with a worker with WMSD had a lot to do with the level of treatment necessary and how long the worker was away from the job. Now surprisingly, if the supervisor blames the worker for the injury and complains about delays in production or impacts on OSHA recordables, it has a negative impact on the injury.
But the most interesting result of the study was that a short training class for supervisors dramatically improved the outcome of future injuries for employees working under that supervisor. Training supervisors on how to relate to employees and what to do immediately after an injury helps keep workers and the company bottom line healthier.
In another study, a food service consultant named Alchemy found that when they taught supervisors how to reinforce worker training with corrective observations, the companies involved in the study saw a 26% improvement in safety compliance. Again, company programs and worker training may be wastes of time and money if supervisors aren’t on board with implementing them.
How are you training your supervisors? Are you teaching them the skills that are proven to improve safety and production, like communication and responsibility? Our supervisory and leadership class, Buddy-to-Boss, is designed to help line managers make the career transition to manage crews and represent the company. Unlike most leadership classes, we can tailor classes to your specific needs and policies. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Prosecutors are increasingly going after supervisors and managers following fatal or environmental incidents. The latest example comes from Chicago where a towboat captain was sentenced on Friday to a six month prison terms for a 2005 barge explosion Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. The incident killed one deckhand and resulted in a significant oil spill. In this instance, the investigation indicated that the captain ordered the victim to use a propane torch to heat a thaw out a frozen discharge pipe. As the video shows, the result was predictable.
In late April, a safety supervisor was among the people criminally charged in a 2012 fatality at Bumblebee Tuna. In that case, a worker was trapped in an oven and prosecutors said managers “willfully violating worker safety rules.”
The bottom line is that supervisors and managers have legal responsibilities for ensuring workplace safety and companies that do not give them the proper training and other tools to manage safe work environments face criminal exposure as well. Are you preparing your supervisors to handle the job? Lifeline Strategies offers supervisor and manager workshops that can help. Contact me at email@example.com.
Think back to when you got your first promotion to manager. Suddenly having to manage co-workers was probably the toughest transition of your career.
Are you giving your supervisors the tools they need to be leaders?
I will be premiering a brand new workshop for supervisors on May 22 in Lafayette, LA. The purpose of this workshop is to help supervisors make that difficult first step from being just another guy on the crew to managing the crew.
A big thanks to TEC Well Service for bringing me in to kick off a new training program for Supervisors this weekend in Odessa, TX. Very good company with some really impressive supervisors. It was a pleasure to spend the morning talking with them about leadership.
The new class that I premiered with them is called “The Big Step: Moving From Buddy to Boss.” It focuses on helping new supervisors make the transition from just being one of the guys on the crew to having to manage the crew. That may be the toughest step any of us take in our careers. As one of the student in the class said, “People change and you change.” Sometimes old friends treat new supervisors differently. Some times new supervisors let their positions go to their heads.
We try to walk them through the change, talk about why old friends act the way they do and how to deal with issues like leadership, responsibility, chain of command and coaching.
If you would like to learn more about the class or book a session with your supervisors, let me know at KenWells@LifelineStrategies.com.