7 Keys to Supervising Employees

7 Keys to Supervising Employees/Volunteers

It’s all too easy for supervisors to unintentionally create legal problems. Under the daily pressures of work and ministry a supervisor might say something he or she doesn’t want to or can’t make good on.

Here are 7 Keys anyone in a supervisory role needs keep in mind during interactions with other employees, volunteers or staff members.

Do not make any job promises.  Never make commitments on behalf of the church or ministry. Don’t say: “If you show that you can handle this ministry area/project, you will get more responsibilities and a raise.” Better to say: “If you handle this project well, that may open the door to a discussion about expanding your role here.”  If your ministry uses Interns do not imply they will be hired or they are assured a position because they served as an intern with your ministry.

Don’t mention you’ve put in a promotion/transfer or raise request before you’ve gotten it approved.  Raising expectations only to dash them is a guaranteed way to end up with a frustrated employee on your hands and potential grounds for a lawsuit.

Do not intimidate.  It’s appropriate to let people know there may be consequences if a particular behavior continues, but don’t commit the organization to any type of action.  Don’t say: “If you don’t improve your attitude, you’re outta here.” Better to say: “These rude and negative interactions with coworkers/volunteers are inappropriate and must stop immediately.”

Watch out for hurt. Teasing – whether about something personal like a hairstyle or a work matter like tardiness – can feel like good natured ribbing to one person but bullying and harassment to the person being “ribbed.” Workplace bullying can be identified as persistent, aggressive, unreasonable behavior toward a coworker or subordinate.

Be alert to any type of harassment. In many nonprofits, there’s a sense “We’re all on the same page,” and no one would behave that way in our ministry. Those that serve in churches and ministry may not immediately recognize racial, sexual, religious, and other kinds of harassment. Make sure your supervisors receive proper training to identify any type of behavior that might be considered harassment.

Be fair and treat people consistently. Be fair and treat people consistently. If your church or ministry requires that vacation requests be authorized by a supervisor, the rule should apply to everyone. Nonprofits often ask employees to put up with difficult circumstances, and people are most willing to do so if they feel that rules are enforces and shared fairly.  Be careful forming an inner circle where preferential treatment is given.  It is imperative that churches and ministries practice the highest standards of any employer.

Remedy situation quickly. If you’ve or another staff member has said or done something you aren’t sure was appropriate, talk it over right away with your own supervisor or your HR manager or HR consultant.

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