Training and Mentoring Your Management and Supervisors


The success of your efficiency/cost-control initiatives and customer service performance hinge on the strength of your first-line and mid-level managers. While promoting from within whenever possible is a best practice, insufficient development of managerial skills —knowing how to manage both up and down — is a weak link for more than a few companies.

Assuming that operations employees can transition to management roles based on intuitive leadership qualities and whatever management skills they may have absorbed during the course of their jobs is short-sighted. Adequate training and support enables operations-savvy individuals to realize their full potential and value to your company. Without this, they may be lost to other, more supportive companies.

Managerial development options include subsidizing or paying the fees for regional business-management courses/programs (with funding perhaps contingent on course performance); bringing in business management faculty or training consultants; and creating internal training and mentoring programs.

Starting an in-house “university” program that's led by senior managers and conducted during off hours is one effective, inexpensive solution. Another is implementing regular “lunch-and-learns,” in which a senior manager offers insights about a key management skill or topic, followed by discussion. These formats should be interactive, not just lectures.

You'll be impressed by new managers' response to these programs and how their growing skills pay off in tangible improvements in your operation.

When it comes to meetings, managers need to provide practical, day to day guidance that helps them translate the streamlining/cost reduction priorities to their team. Holding brief, daily start-of-day (and start of shift) meetings with department managements is a more effective way of reinforcing priorities than flooding staff with reports and memos.

The meetings should be 10 minutes or under and, yes, employees should stand — this keep things moving, and signals that everyone will soon be back at work.

Tight focus is the key. Stick to clarifying the present day's priorities and action plans, using checklists of key metrics/areas for review.

Warehouse metrics reviewed should include updates on orders processed, order carry-over, unworked receipts and backlogged returns, followed by today's expected orders and receipts, quality control issues and staffing requirements. Call center checkpoints should include any new promotions hitting, forecast call volumes, abandonment rates and other service levels, staffing required, etc.

Try these tips to get the most out of your managers and employees that you are grooming to grow the business and operations. F. Curtis Barry & Company can help with your training and organizational structure questions and projects. Contact Jeff Barry at 804-264-8040 or