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More than a third of supervisors are not receiving all of the training required under OPM rules, nor are agencies making full use of the probationary period for those newly hired into the supervisory ranks, according to the MSPB.

The rules require training in mentoring employees, improving employee performance and productivity, conducting employee performance appraisals and addressing unacceptable performance. The training is to be provided within a year of an employee’s initial appointment to a supervisory position and at least once every three years afterward.


However, the MSPB said that in its most recent “merit principles” survey, among supervisors two thirds said they are not receiving adequate training on performance-related issues.

It also noted that a 2016 survey by OPM concluded that 80 percent of new supervisors received training in being a supervisor as part of their supervisory probationary period, which must be served even though they may have been promoted from a job in which they already had completed such a period. OPM concluded that “agencies continue to leverage probationary periods . . . as supervisory training accountability mechanisms.”

The MSPB said, though, that fewer than 1 percent of new supervisors fail supervisory probation.

“This is a far cry from agencies using the supervisory probationary period to keep supervisors accountable. In addition, just over half of supervisory and managerial respondents to a 2016 MSPB survey believed that their performance during the probationary period was used to decide whether they should continue in a supervisory role,” it said.

“A canvass of agency supervisory training programs [such as OPM performed] can only provide a very high-level indication of agency requirements. OPM and agencies should periodically survey supervisors to determine, for example, how many supervisors received new or continuing training, the topics covered, how effective the supervisors thought the training was, and the ways the supervisory probationary period actually is or isn’t being used,” it said.

See also, Most Supervisors Not Confident They Could Remove Problem Employees

Federal Manager’s Handbook, 6th Ed.