Penny Sara - Managing Paid Staff


Published on

Managing paid staff can presents many challenges. These challenges may relate to recruitment and retention, resourcing, performance management and development, productivity and conflict resolution, time management, etc.

In this session, Penny Sara provided:

an overview of day-to-day management of paid staff, including good supervision practices and how these fit with annual or regular performance review
an outline of probation and managing under performance
some strategies for setting oneself up for success with managing staff, preventing problems and nipping them in the bud early if they do arise.

Penny Sara is a Human Resources and Employment Relations Consultant and Business Coach. She has many years of experience in the Adult Community Education sector, both as a manager and consultant, and a keen appreciation of the challenges faced by managers and coordinators of community learning centres.

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Penny Sara - Managing Paid Staff

  1. 1. Managing Paid Staff - set yourself up for success!
  2. 2. Overview  Facilitator: Penny Sara  This session will be an overview of day-to-day management of paid staff, including good supervision practices and how these fit with annual or regular performance review. It will also touch on probation and managing under performance.  The emphasis will be on setting yourself up for success with managing staff, preventing problems and nipping them in the bud early if they do arise.
  3. 3. What kind of employer are you?  What is your role in the organisation?  I’m assuming most of you are managers or coordinators – am I right? (Tick for yes, cross for no.)  Are there any committee or board members with us today? Just type in CoM, CM or Board in the chat box (lower left)
  4. 4. What kind of employer are you? 2  Just to give me an idea of the size of your organisation, how many paid administrative and coordination staff are there in the organisation (including you, if you are paid, and excluding teachers or tutors)? (A) 1-3 (B) 4-8 (C) more than 8
  5. 5. Taking on the role You have legal responsibilities as an employer under the Fair Work Act, state legislation (varies according to which state you’re in), and under the relevant awards or agreements to which your organisation is a signatory. (If you are the manager or coordinator, these responsibilities are delegated to you by the Board or Committee).
  6. 6. Taking on the role 2  You need to make a decision that you will take on the management role, with all its responsibilities and potential problems, as a key part of your role. Isn’t this obvious, you may ask? Perhaps, but even though it’s in your job description, it’s another step to fully appreciate and ‘take on’ what this means. Many people in the community sector are not well prepared for this role, and often their passion lies elsewhere, for example in providing high quality adult education programs, or in community development. Ring any bells for you?
  7. 7. Taking on the role 3  If you haven’t already, I suggest that you “put on the mantle” of management of staff – it’s a mind-set. I think of it as being like a special cloak, that sets you apart and says to everyone: “this is the person who is in charge – you can rely on him or her to be fair, consistent and responsible, to know the rules and do the right thing”.  Do you feel as if you’ve already taken this on? (Ticks for yes, crosses for no. Maybe not applicable to you, so write n/a in chat box)  I suggest you take (or provide) any opportunities for training and learning more about staff management responsibilities, either formal or informal, as a way of helping you (or someone you work with) make this shift. Note: This “staff management mindset” is not instead of leadership, or other crucial management roles like budget planning and monitoring, but works with these other key roles.
  8. 8. Taking on the role 4 By virtue of your position, you have a lot of power over other people’s lives, but only within well-defined rules. These rules are made up of: - Legislation (Federal and State) - Awards and Agreements - Organisational Policy
  9. 9. What does this mean in practice?  Once you “have your head right” about the management part of your role, you need to familiarise yourself with the rules and principles.  Don’t be daunted by this – no-one will ever know them all, but if you are new to it, you need to get organised and start learning.  For starters, have a copy of the industrial instruments (that is, the relevant Agreements and/or Awards) that apply to the staff at your centre within reach, perhaps on a shelf above your desk.
  10. 10. Get to know the documents  You may not have time to actually study the documents in a general sense, but look them up regularly, when you are setting something up, or when you have an issue, and gradually you will learn.  If there’s something you don’t understand, get advice. Every Centre needs to subscribe to at least one peak body that provides Employment Relations (Industrial Relations and Human Resources) advice, such as Jobs Australia. (ER from now on)  While you must have this, I don’t recommend relying entirely on phone calls as each issue comes up – it’s really important that you start to build up some confidence and expertise on these issues.
  11. 11. Summary DO DON’T  Set up the Fair Work Australia (FWA) website in  Leave it till you have a your favourites bar, if you problem to start getting haven’t already. organised, or if you do, make  Have a well-thumbed and sure you improve your annotated copy of the main resources for the next time! Award(s) and/or Agreement(s) that apply to your workforce within reach  Have the phone number of your ER adviser handy, and consult them early if you need to – allow several days to a week for them to get back to you
  12. 12. Good supervision practice  Have regular one to one meetings with each person who reports to you.  If face-to-face meetings are difficult, because of part-time work or heavy workloads, get creative! One option is to set up a regular telephone meeting, and email in between.  Then you must do it!
  13. 13. Good supervision practice 2  Team meetings are also recommended, at realistic intervals (depending on the team, this could be once a fortnight, month, term or semester) and as well as having a host of other functions, these provide opportunities to problem-solve, and a different kind of accountability for staff – towards their peers.  Modelling is very important : managers, coordinators and program coordinators set the tone. Keep faithfully to the arrangements you make with your staff. Avoid postponing meetings because of other priorities. External meetings are not always more important than one of your own staff meetings, truly!
  14. 14. Manager as conductor  If you have come up ‘through the ranks’, your challenge may be to become the conductor rather than (or as well as) one of the musicians  This takes time, concentration and a lot of learning, so you need to give it a central place in your work life
  15. 15. Performance Review  An annual or regular performance appraisal or review, important as it is, does not replace good ongoing performance management, day to day, week to week, see above.  The performance appraisal process should be something everyone is happy with, and sees as useful, not just an empty exercise of ticking boxes. If this isn’t the case, get a new one or make up a very simple one of your own, and consult the staff in its development.  Train all supervisors in its use. Unless you are a very small organisation, devolve responsibility for performance reviews to the staff member’s day-to-day supervisor. Don’t expect the manager to conduct all performance reviews, and do include tutors and teachers in the process.
  16. 16. Performance Review: how should itwork?  Use the whiteboard to put up your ideas – don’t be shy!
  17. 17. Performance reviewguidelines The Performance Review:  Provides an opportunity for the staff member to review and reflect on the work of the previous year (or shorter or longer nominated time period) and to set goals for the next.  As part of the review, the incumbent takes time to celebrate achievements and ponder possible areas of improvement. The focus is on positive achievement and the support the person needs to do their job well.  The review must not be rushed, and should not be seen as an obligation, but rather a welcome opportunity to reflect on the position, and to focus attention on the person in it.  The review should be held in a private space, and sufficient time allowed to conduct the review without interruptions or intrusions.
  18. 18. Performance review guidelines 2  The supervisor or manager will contribute their thoughts, but the person being reviewed should do 80% of the talking.  Professional Development plans will be made for the individual, and their contribution to the overall strategic plan of the organisation (past and future) will be made clear.  Reviews will not be used in lieu of disciplinary procedures, but any concerns about performance should be noted in these reviews.  Reviews should not take place in a vacuum, but rather in the context of regular individual and team meetings throughout the year.
  19. 19. Managing underperformance  How many of you have had to deal with Underperformance in some way, either as a manager or a board member? (Tick if yes)  Did it come naturally to you? (Tick if yes, cross if no)
  20. 20. Managing underperformance 2  Never let anything inappropriate pass. Make sure the person knows if they have done something that isn’t right. Do it immediately if you can: take them aside.  If this is not possible, do it ASAP at a scheduled one to one meeting.  Don’t put it off because you feel uncomfortable doing it.  If you do feel uncomfortable, practise on someone else, a trusted colleague. Actually practise saying the words and using the body language; don’t just get advice. Get the other person to play the staff member.
  21. 21. Managing underperformance 3  Tell the staff member what you’ve noticed, and ask if there’s a problem. There might be a good reason, but don’t assume you know what it is. (For example, “I notice you’ve been coming in late. Is there a problem?”)  If what they’ve done is just not right (for example, shouting at a student) tell them clearly that this isn’t what we do here, demonstrate the correct way and explain how that fits with the ethos and strategic plan of the centre.  If the problem is related to lack of skill, offer training.
  22. 22. Managing underperformance 4  Become comfortable with giving feedback on performance. This is your job, it’s not personal.  The more you do it, the easier it gets. Be calm, specific, consistent and timely. If necessary, be boringly persistent as well, like a dripping tap.  If the staff member doesn’t respond to all of this and their employment is ongoing, consult the Award or Agreement and your ER Adviser, particularly if you think you may need to terminate employment. Make sure anything you do is legal. If you choose to start disciplinary procedures, follow them scrupulously.
  23. 23. Managing underperformance 5  If the under-performer is on probation, don’t wait till the end. Talk to your manager or adviser about it, and if she/he agrees, terminate the person’s employment. This must be done well before the last day.  More on probation to come.
  24. 24. Summary dismissal  In the case of gross misconduct, such as physical or sexual assault or theft, you should use the summary dismissal provisions in your award(s) or agreement(s).  I hope you never need these, but familiarise yourself with them just in case. If it happens, you might not have time to consult, work out what to do
  25. 25. Induction of new staff  Think of a time when you have had to induct new staff  Would you say it was successful? (Tick for yes, cross for no, chat box for ‘sort of’ or other comments.)  What’s one thing you’d do differently next time? (Chat box)
  26. 26. Supervising new staff  Make it a priority to support new staff and give feedback often. Have regular one to one meetings. Give them opportunities to ask questions but also the chance to figure things out for themselves. Don’t wait till end of probation if things aren’t working out (see next section).  Really use those 6 months to try out the employee in different situations. Make an effort to simulate a task that happens at another time of year if this is crucial to the position (for example, course guide preparation, program planning, budget preparation, enrolments).
  27. 27. Supervising new staff 2  For experienced new staff who’ve worked in a similar role before, consider asking them for feedback on your systems while their eyes are still fresh.
  28. 28. Probation- begin at the beginning  Did you know that there are new rules for probation, under Fair Work Legislation?  For starters, you must give each new employee a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement. This is a good place to start for you too, if you are new to this.  The main message about probation is that it’s time-critical. No matter what else is going on during a new worker’s probation period, you MUST prioritise supervision of this new worker.  Without micro-managing, you need to support and monitor this new person’s work in a proactive and systematic way.
  29. 29. If it’s looking as if the probation may beunsuccessful DO  Start early and communicate clearly – what are the issues? How can the person’s performance be improved? How can you support them to reach the standards you want? Do they need training?  Give feedback immediately and clearly. The principles are the same as for performance management at any stage of the employment cycle (see earlier in this presentation), but it’s even more critical here, and can’t be dodged.  Practise on someone if you’re not feeling confident. Maybe you could buddy up with someone in a similar role in another organisation?
  30. 30. If it’s looking as if the probation maybe unsuccessful 2 DON’T  Let anything important go  Feel personally aggrieved if the person isn’t measuring up. You are paid to be the “bigger person” in this situation – it’s up to you to play your part graciously.  Delay – timeliness is of the essence!
  31. 31. If it’s looking as if the probation maybe unsuccessful 3 Use the resources available to you  Letters on FWA website (both successful and unsuccessful)  FWA phone service  Your ER adviser  Small employer definition on FWA website – I suggest this is one of the first things you do- work out whether you fit into this category, as the rules are different regarding unfair dismissal
  32. 32. Summing Up We’ve talked about good day-to day supervision, performance review, performance management, managing underperformance and have touched on induction, probation and termination of employment. I hope you’re feeling more confident in your role as conductor …er… manager or [your role], and for those of you who are old hands, I hope I’ve provided some reinforcement for your good practice and haven’t been teaching you how to suck eggs!
  33. 33. Go for it!  Good luck!  I wish you a happy and productive workplace! (C) Penny Sara October 2012
  34. 34. Feedback and suggestions forfurther workshops  Now I’m going to put up a blank slide for you to write up (using the whiteboard) any feedback you have on this presentation, and any suggestions for further workshops on the general theme of staff management or self-management for managers (it would be lovely if you have time to do this today, otherwise email me at  Thank you for coming to the Webinar, including those who listen afterwards! I appreciate your interest!
  35. 35. Feedback and suggestions forfurther workshops