Supervisor Toolkit Overview
A. Using the supervisor toolkit
The Supervisor Toolkit was developed to help supervisors be more effective in critical areas of responsibility. Initially developed by a team of supervisors in the Engineering Division, this toolkit was adapted, so it provides practical guidance and best practices to address the issues and situations that supervisors Lab wide find most challenging in their work.
This toolkit highlights best practices and guidance that are common for all supervisors in any team or organizational context. In addition, this toolkit is designed to support your role as it relates to the Lab’s Core Values and commitment expectations aligned with IDEA and Stewardship. The Supervisor Toolkit also includes best practices and guidance that are practical and applicable for all of the different kinds of work relationships and partnerships that supervisors, and their employees and teams engage in at Berkeley Lab. The audience for this toolkit includes:
- New and experienced supervisors who are new to Berkeley Lab
- New supervisors or individuals with career aspirations of transitioning into a supervisory role
- Supervisors dealing with difficult employee conduct and performance issues.
- Supervisors who work on a project with internal colleagues from different disciplines and other divisions, and/or with people who are not from the Laboratory (such as users, stakeholders, funders, collaborators and vendors).
Given this focus on effective work relationships, the single word, “partner,” will be used throughout the toolkit when referring to any of these internal and external work relationships. Partner exemplifies the approach to work relationships that has proven most important to the success of “team science” at Berkeley Lab. Your Division leadership, and/or HR Division Partner, can assist you with local processes, procedures, and protocols.
Transitioning into Supervision
A. Primary responsibilities of a supervisor
- Ensure all required Berkeley Lab supervisory responsibilities are addressed and completed in a timely manner
- Keep all required supervisory training currentModel the highest ethical standards and hold employees accountable for ethical behavior
- Ensure compliance with Berkeley Lab requirements and procedures and with applicable federal, state and local laws.
- Hold employees accountable for meeting goals and performing according to expectations.
- Help employees adapt to changes as needed in team, division and partner relationships.
- Provide regular feedback on employee performance and development needs, beyond an annual written performance review and conversation.
- Maintain confidentiality as appropriate (e.g., regarding the recruiting and selection process, in matters of performance management or discipline).
- Immediately notifying your chain of command and HR when you are altered or aware of matters that are illegal or violate Lab policy.
- Uphold Berkeley Lab’s commitment to providing open, unbiased, and equal employment and development opportunities in accordance with FAIR, IDEA and Stewardship. This applies to all areas of employment including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfers, leaves of absence, compensation and training. Be responsive and timely in response to requests for approvals from Berkeley Lab systems (e.g., recruitment, appointment extensions and terminations, procurement, LETS).
- Consider ways to incorporate IDEAs in Action efforts and activities into your team and division business activities a diverse and inclusive culture.
Interact with new employees
- Orient employees who are new to Berkeley Lab or the division.
- Communicate roles and responsibilities to each employee.
- Set clear expectations for employee performance, and revisit regularly throughout the year.
- Set clear goals and expectations for working safely.
- Share information about Berkeley Lab and division priorities and initiatives.
- Ensure direct reports understand the importance of diversity and inclusion, and encourage staff engagement in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).
Discuss performance goals and progress with employees
- Monitor progress toward project and performance goals.
- Meet regularly with each employee throughout the year. Follow up with a summary email (if necessary), or document the conversation and expected outcomes in the notes you keep in your desk file about your employee.
- Provide training, experience and feedback to build employee knowledge, skills and confidence needed to perform effectively.
- Provide oversight to ensure safe working practices.
- Recognize and acknowledge good performance and address substandard performance, as needed.
Manage employee performance issues
- Address performance, behavior and work challenges employees encounter within the division or with partners.
- Consult with your Sr. HR Division Partner at the first sign of performance and behavior concerns.
- Document discussions, decisions, and resolutions and update your Sr. HR Division Partner on the progress of performance and behavior issues. The goal is to help the employee be successful in their work and on the team.
Interact with division management
- Stay informed about division and Berkeley Lab priorities, and communicate priorities to employees.
- Communicate relevant information from division management to employees.
- Keep your manager informed about programs and projects in which your employees are engaged.
- Work with your manager to plan how to introduce and implement change.
Interact with partner divisions
- When you or your staff are working on programs or projects with other divisions, meet regularly to assess partner needs.Determine what knowledge, skills and experience employees need to contribute to a program or project.
- Address workplace issues or concerns about an employee’s performance.
- Gather input from others who work with your employee/s to include in the annual performance review.
B. Taking Required Supervisor Training
Take all required training for new supervisors
- Supervisor Responsibilities at Berkeley Lab is an online training course that is required for all newly hired supervisors and those promoted into a supervisory role.The course also serves as a refresher for experienced supervisors. It provides a comprehensive overview of critical supervisor responsibilities in these areas:
- Institutional Responsibilities – issues relating to Berkeley Lab mission, policies, ethical work standards, contract compliance
- Operational Responsibilities – operational accountabilities in areas such as safety, security, managing funds, conflicts of interest, and signing privileges
- Managing Employees – guidelines for working with employees in a variety of management situations including recruiting and selection, performance management, taking corrective action, complying with EEO/Affirmative Action, union regulations
- Managing Scientists (scientists only) – managing scientists, postdocs and graduate research students in areas such as mentoring students, reporting inventions/transferring technology to market and processing foreign visitors
- The Work Planning and Controls(WPC) Program is designed to implement Berkeley Lab’s Integrated Safety Management Program (ISM) program including providing safety training appropriate to job requirements.
- California law requires all supervisors to complete two hours of sexual harassment prevention training every two years. Berkeley Lab supervisors are automatically registered for the online UC Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for Supervisors and Faculty course that is coordinated by the University of California Office of President (UCOP). Supervisors will receive an email f to access the course and confirm the deadline for completion.
- To learn about your responsibilities and how to approve time cards for both monthly-paid and hourly-page employees by taking the Laboratory Electronic Timekeeping System (LETS) Approver Training.
- Consult your supervisor for other required or recommended training for your work and role as supervisor.
C. Planning your transition into supervision
Discuss with your manager ways to get quickly up to speed in your new supervisory role
- Prior to meeting with your manager, review the Berkeley Lab Onboarding Program website. This is helpful even for experienced Lab employees who are new to supervision.
- Review your new position description, discuss performance goals and determine your first priorities in your new role.
- Confirm your understanding of the full scope of your responsibilities.
- Discuss safety hazards to watch for and protocols to address them
- Review any current issues you need to be aware of and manage (people- or project/program-related).
- Discuss how to ensure a smooth transition to your new role.
Meet with the outgoing supervisor, if available
- Be briefed on the status of projects, assignments, outstanding issues, opportunities.
- Ask what information, resources or tools will be helpful or critical to know.
- Solicit suggestions on how to make a smooth transition into the role.
- Review team members’ performance and learn their perspective on strengths and development areas.Be mindful that you should meet with each team member individually to discuss their own strengths and development areas.
Get up to speed quickly on your supervisory duties
- Review this Supervisor Toolkit to broaden your understanding of responsibilities and related best practices.
- Get to know your employees (their capabilities, skill sets and aspirations). Review past performance reviews. You may get them from the prior supervisor or your HR Division Partner
- Familiarize yourself with Berkeley Lab culture, the mission of your division and of your partners, and peruse Berkeley Lab and division websites if you are new to Berkeley Lab.
Develop a working relationship with your HR Division Partner
- Meet with your HR Division Partner Learn what HR’s role is, and how HR can support and advise you.
- Learn about HR procedures and resources for hiring, supervising, developing and managing appointments Many of these resources can be found on the Berkeley Lab Onboarding Program website and in the HR Groups and Supervisor Resources section of this toolkit.
- Discuss where you might be challenged as a new supervisor and how to address these challenges.
D. Supervising Employees who were once peers
Talk with the employees about the change in your role
- Explain your general responsibilities as their supervisor and share your management approach and leadership style. Note: Check out LinkedIn Learning to learn more about leadership styles.
- Talk about how you’ll support their efforts within the division and/or with collaboration partners.
- Explain when they should seek you out (e.g., concerns about a project or interactions with others).
- Share with your team how you’ll keep them updated and informed about Berkeley Lab or division initiatives.
- Describe what changes may occur under your supervision (if any at all), and what they can expect to remain the same.
- Acknowledge that some may need time to adjust to your new role as their supervisor.
- Encourage your staff to come to you at any time with ideas, questions or concerns.
Be accessible and follow-through
- Have an “open door” policy so people can come to you when it’s convenient for them.
- Honor your commitments; follow up on unfinished business and act on the things you’ve agreed to do..
Be consistent and fair
- Hold all employees similarly accountable for meeting expectations; avoid preferential treatment.
- Balance your time among all employees to avoid perceptions of favoritism.
- Discuss career development with your team members and provide individuals with an interest in growth, the opportunity to work on new projects or interesting assignments.
- Treat everyone with respect.
Listen with an open mind
- Be flexible to different approaches versus doing things “your way”.
- Ask employees for their ideas about how they would approach, address or handle situations.
- Use employees’ ideas and input as much as possible; someone may have a better way.
Know what’s appropriate to discuss with your employees
- Discussions about poor performance, employee conduct issues, individuals on family leave or dealing with health matters should not be discussed with your direct reports. In some cases early discussions about workforce planning or staff changes may be sensitive topics, so check with your management team when it’s appropriate to provide staff updates.
- If you don’t know what is “off limits,” feel free to reach out to your HR Division Partner to better understand about topics that may be inappropriate to discuss with employees as their supervisor.
- If your employee raises a topic that is appropriate for you to discuss with them, express empathy and listen. If needed, encourage the employee to seek out appropriate Berkeley Lab resources (e.g., HR, Family Sick Leave, Be Well At Work Services).
- Avoid initiating conversations that are inappropriate to have with employees.
Plan changes carefully
- Make changes gradually to allow people time to adjust.
- Keep your manager aware if you are interested in making changes, so that you have the full support of your division’s leadership.
- Communicate reasons for change and the benefits to be gained.
- Be flexible in approaches to work.
- Get things done to promote steady progress.
E. Keeping your supervisor informed
Ask your manager what they want to be kept informed about and how often. Ask about:
- General progress on projects/assignments, and the status of your employees’ role and involvement.
- Budget management expercations or if there are any funding changes (whether upward or downward) that are pending or anticipated.
- Staffing and workload: whether current staffing levels are sufficient to deliver on commitments, and if not, what additional resources may be needed and how they will be utilized.
- Other recommended training or resources needed to support employee effectiveness and program or project progress.
- Issues with an employee and what you’re doing to address and resolve the issue(s).
- Issues with others and what you’re doing to address and resolve the issue(s).
- Outcomes, reactions and benefits after identified issues are resolved.
- Succession planning needs based upon expected retirements or other turnover; steps being taken to hire or backfill internally to protect against anticipated loss in knowledge, skills or expertise.
- Opportunities for employee or division involvement in other programs or projects.
Let your manager know about your own needs
- Information or feedback your manager can provide that will be useful.
- Training, developmental assignments or external experiences that will support your ongoing professional development.
- When his/her involvement is needed to resolve issues with others.
A. Creating a safe work environment
- Let employees know that safety is a core value.
- Understand the work your employees do and the hazards they confront.
- Ensure safe working practices for your employees.
- Verify that required safety training for yourself and each employee is current; hold employees accountable for completing required safety training on or before starting work for which the training is required or before the expiration date if periodic refreshers are required.
- If the employee is on assignment to another division (i.e., matrix assignment), confirm the lead or supervisor finds time for the employee to attend safety training before work is allowed.
- Acknowledge safe work practices (e.g., verbally, in an email, with a Safety Spot Award).
- In the event of an incident, injury or question, immediately contact your supervisor and the Division Safety Coordinator.
Make Safety a Frequent Topic of Discussion
- Set clear expectations for working safely.
- Ensure your employee’s computer workstation is set up ergonomically correct.
- Reinforce the need to analyze hazards before beginning work.
- Remind employees that doing routine tasks without attention to safety can create hazards.
- Provide clear direction about staying safe when there is a change in a work process.
- Reinforce the use of the “STOP WORK” policy by anyone at any level if they have a concern about safety and risks to themselves or to others.
- Ask employees to let you know of any safety concerns.
- Remind your employees to report “near misses”, hazards, safety issues or accidents to you and to your Division Safety Coordinator immediately.
- Review the Work Planning and Controls (WPC) Program for information about training, compliance and safety hazards related to the job.
- Use the 1 Minute 4 Safety slides to reinforce safety messages both in meetings and with individuals.
- Conduct “lessons learned” safety discussions with your employees:
- What occurred
- Reasons for compromised safety or unsafe working conditions
- How it should have been handled
- How to ensure safe work practices in the future
Enhancing Supervisory Skills
Recruiting and Hiring
- Recruiting Resources for Prospective Applicants (public)
- Recruiting and Hiring Resources for Hiring Managers (internal)
- Talent and Diversity Outreach (public)
- Non-Recruited Hires (public)
Enhancing Employee Performance
- Onboarding/Orienting New Employees
- Managing Performance and Holding the Annual Review Discussion
- Setting Annual Goals
- Conducting the Goal-Setting Discussion
- Building Employee Knowledge, Skills and Confidence
- Providing Feedback
- Coaching to Improve Performance
- Preparing for the Annual Performance Review
- Addressing Performance Conversation Challenges
Handling Challenging Performance Issues
- Find your HR Division Partner
- Initiate an Open Position or Hire
- Employee and Labor Relations
- FAIR – Fundamental Rights, Affirmative Action, Impartial Investigations, Respectful Environment
- HR Shared Services
- Learning & Organizational Development
- Integrated Safety Management (ISM)
- Work Planning and Controls (WPC)
- Division Safety Coordinator
- 1 Minute 4 Safety
Additional Supervisor Resources
- Berkeley Lab Training portal: Access to EH&S, Finance, HR training
- Berkeley Lab Stewardship
- Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Accountability (IDEA)
- Integrated Disability & Absence Management
- Onboarding Program
- Requirements and Policies Manual – RPM
- Be Well at Work – Employee Assistance Programs (Counseling services)
- UCPath – UC wide HR Management Portal – Payroll/Benefits