Organizational Growth Through HR Learning and Development

Empowering supervisors, managers and leaders at all levels

By Matthew W. Burr, SHRM-SCP February 26, 2020
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Matthew W. Burr, SHRM-SCP

Matthew W. Burr, SHRM-SCP

Supervisor and manager development should be at the forefront of any organization's plan for growth. Front-line supervisors tend to be promoted into leadership positions with minimal exposure to proper decision-making techniques or management-level training, often with negative consequences. As the needs of the workforce and organization change, leaders at every level should be expected to continue their learning and development—and those expectations themselves should be ongoing and evolving. Strategic learning and development initiatives present HR professionals with a tremendous opportunity to empower and grow talent in-house.

  • Knowledge is power. Throughout my career as a consultant and trainer, I have worked with a variety of organizations in multiple industries. One of my most successful training efforts is "HR Law for Supervisors," which provides organizational leaders with basic legal information about the impacts of their day-to-day actions and decisions. We discuss effective interviewing that complies with the law, expectations around policies and procedures, and more. I also recommend that leaders get training on workplace investigations, conflict resolution and decision making. Training should be tailored to the specific organization. Use hypothetical scenarios, real-life situations and role-play to ensure success. Engage your audience and encourage them to ask questions. Utilize the SHRM competencies Communication, Relationship Management, Critical Evaluation and HR Expertise to build and implement productive training.
  • The transition to management. First-time supervisors, managers and leaders have a daunting transition period ahead of them. It takes time to master such skills as delegation, empowerment and accountability. Emotional intelligence also plays a significant role. HR can act as a compass, guiding new supervisors through the turbulent waters known as the transition to management. The competencies of Communication, Business Acumen, Relationship Management, HR Expertise and Communication demonstrate your knowledge, skills and abilities to coach and counsel new managers, helping them learn from their mistakes. ("No, you cannot treat one employee differently." "No, you cannot engage in off-work activities with some employees and not others.")
  • The need for mentorship. You do not know what you do not know; this is true for all of us in many situations—and especially true for new leaders. HR should create and develop mentorship opportunities for new supervisors as part of an ongoing transition process. (I recently wrote about the need for mentorship in any organization.) HR plays a significant role not only in implementing mentorship programs, but also in strategically growing mentoring relationships in and outside of the parties' career paths. Any and all of the competencies provide HR with the tools required to accomplish this.

Being a new supervisor or manager is difficult. I have gone through the experience and learned from my many mistakes. To ensure that leaders at all levels continue to evolve their knowledge, skills and abilities, HR should look for internal and external learning and development opportunities based on the needs of the workforce and the organization. When these programs are successful, HR has added significant value to all concerned.

Matthew W. Burr, SHRM-SCP, owner of Burr Consulting LLC in Elmira, N.Y., and co-owner of Labor Love LLC, is an HR consultant, an assistant professor at Elmira College, and an on-call mediator and fact-finder for the New York State Public Employment Relations Board.

For more information on SHRM certification and to register for the exam, please visit our website.

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