Expert's View

It’s a well-known fact that when money is in short supply, training is one of the first things to go. Another well-known fact is that newly appointed supervisors are seldom prepared for their duties. So, on March 24, 2010, Senator Daniel Akaka introduced a bill that would require the head of each federal agency to establish a program to train supervisors. Among its purposes would be to prepare them to:

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• develop and discuss relevant goals and objectives with their employees,

• communicate and discuss progress on attaining performance goals and objectives,

• conduct performance appraisals,

• mentor and motivate employees to improve their performance and productivity,

• foster a work environment characterized by fairness, respect, and equal opportunity, and

• deal with reports of a hostile work environment, reprisal or harassment.

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Further, the program should provide training to supervisors on:

• prohibited personnel practices,

• employee collective bargaining and union participation rights, and

• processes to enforce employee rights.

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In addition, it should assure that experienced supervisors mentor new supervisors.

Finally, all supervisors would be required to complete the training program every three years.

The bill charges OPM with the responsibility to issue guidance to agencies detailing the competencies that supervisors are expected to have in order to effectively manage and be accountable for managing employee performance. And it requires each agency to develop criteria to assess the performance of each supervisor, make such assessments, develop programs that would strengthen any identified weaknesses, and evaluate the effective of those programs in improving supervisory competence.

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To date, this bill is a boat with only one paddle, and Senator Akaka is wielding it. At present, there are no co-sponsors. However, it’s a bill that could become law if it attracted enough support. If you agree with the senator’s position, talk it up.