Internal Investigations Usually Start with a Lack of “How-to” Management Skills

Jun 16, 2020

A couple of years ago, I posted this blog and felt compelled to post it again because I’m still not seeing enough organizations investing in the basic skills development for supervisors and managers.  I continually hear from HR Generalists, Managers, Directors, and VP’s: “the managers just don’t ‘get’ what we do in HR…they don’t document anything but then want to fire an employee! Then, they get mad when we tell them there isn’t enough documentation to take any disciplinary action or to terminate…”

Ah, yes, the documentation conversation. I would bet that just about every HR Manager in the U.S., and probably abroad, has had this difficult conversation. Well, let’s drill it down to the root cause: lack of quality “how-to” supervisor training. Supervisors at the front line and mid-level are often promoted from within because they are technically competent–not leadership and people management competent. The skill set is entirely different when one moves up the ladder to supervise others. Yet, many organizations (usually the small to medium size companies) just don’t do leadership training. Big mistake!

If you’ve been a seasoned leader in a Fortune 500 company, you’ve already had the benefit of foundation modules of training on the basics of supervising others. And, probably a ton of HR training on the do’s and the don’ts. The problem is, in the small to medium size organizations,  the lack of supervisor training is often a big root cause as to why HR has so many darned problems: a virtual “freeway of foot traffic” into HR when employees run to HR to “vent” about how their manager didn’t do this or that…or is “creating a hostile environment” or the latest:“bullying” them. And, the more serious stuff: EEOC charges, DOL investigations, OSHA violations, higher employee turnover, losing unemployment hearings, lawsuits for wrongful terminations, etc.

So, here is a piece of advice: get some serious “how-to” supervisor training put in place. Here is a list of what I’m referring to as the “how-to” stuff:

  • How-to communicate with employees effectively to minimize the risk of harassment and hostile work environment complaints
  • How-to get the “leadership light bulb” to come on to spot risky workplace issues–and how to handle them in the moment
  • How-to deliver feedback without creating defensiveness and drama
  • How-to coach an underperforming employee
  • How-to document a disciplinary warning and deliver it effectivelyHow-to complete a performance review and deliver it effectively
  • How-to resolve conflicts with an employee or resolve conflicts between/among employees
  • How-to maintain composure and communicate diplomatically when handling challenging situations
  • How-to manage change so their negativity/push-back on changes doesn’t become a model for employees to mirror that same negativity
  • How-to handle a termination meeting to ensure it goes smoothly and minimizes the risk of workplace violence
  • How-to develop direct reports to fuel succession plans and retain talent
  • How-to run effective meetings and team huddles so they are efficient and effective
  • How-to effectively manage their time and balance work and home to avoid burnout
  • How-to communicate to different behavioral styles to reduce conflict

    And, I could go on here, but you get the gist.  So, before you invest in one single training dollar, please think through your audience, their skill level, their prior training and experience–and then start working on your selection for the right “how-to” leadership development curriculum to train them. Remember: one size does not fit all for training for supervisors and managers! If you need some help in how to find the right training, just reach out to me at or give me a call at (800) 517-7129 ext. 4, Eastern time zone.
    Until next time…
    Natalie Ivey, MBA, SPHR
    President & CEO
    Results Performance Consulting, Inc.

Published On: May 1st, 2018 / Categories: Blog /

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