Supervisor Responsibilities & Resources
Following is a summary of supervisory responsibilities to review as you prepare for your training sessions with new student staff members. Also, please carefully review the online Employment Agreement and the Student Employment Responsibilities and Procedures, which includes information regarding responsibilities and procedures for student staff members. Contact Career & Employment Services if you have questions not addressed within this communication.
Supervisors may also access Unum Life Balance, which provides management consulting services as part of the range of resources available to staff and faculty members (contact Human Resources at 253.879.3369 if you don't know the university's access code).
Supervisors as Educators
The supervisor determines the quality of the student's work/learning experience. Often students have close, long-term relationships with their supervisors. The supervisor can be a key figure in a student's college experience and in his or her professional development. By affecting attitudes about work, the supervisor can influence the student staff member's future success.
People who are satisfied and enthusiastic about their jobs often cite quality of supervision as an essential factor in feeling positive about their work experience. Student staff members are like any other employees; they want to do a good job and they want to be treated the same way you would want to be treated by your supervisor. The supervisor is responsible for creating a work environment that promotes positive work performance and allows the goals of the department to be achieved. Good work performance reflects good supervision. To cultivate a trained and effective student staff, you need to make management of student staff members a priority. Develop policies appropriate to your department and insure they are utilized. Make sure that the student staff members in your office are properly trained, evaluated, and, most importantly, recognized for the important part they play in meeting departmental goals.
Many students have little previous work experience, so they need special attention when it comes to training. Make your expectations very clear. Basic departmental procedures, second nature to you, need to be explained in detail to an inexperienced staff member. If you concentrate on preventing performance problems by providing thorough training, evaluation, and recognition, both you and your student staff members will enjoy the benefits of a rewarding work experience.
Being an effective supervisor is not easy, but the rewards are great. Each individual you supervise will present a new challenge--and a new learning experience for you.
Supervising Student Staff Members
Proper supervision is essential to a successful job match. As a supervisor of student staff members, you have several responsibilities. You are responsible to your own supervisor to manage your student staffing resources efficiently and effectively to meet departmental goals. You are responsible to insure that the necessary employment-related forms and procedures are properly handled so that students are authorized for payroll. You authorize time sheets on a monthly basis and monitor earnings to insure students do not exceed their work awards. In addition, your role is to train, motivate, guide, and evaluate the student staff member. Like all other employees of the University, students need to know the goals your department is working toward and that their work is important and necessary to reach those goals.
In carrying out these responsibilities, you not only accomplish the work within your own department, but you also influence your student staff members in significant ways. As a mentor and resource person, you affect student retention by providing a support system for students. Studies have shown that working on campus tends to increase the likelihood that students will remain in school. You educate students about the world of work. You also serve as a model for the development of a work ethic and good work habits.
Student staff members' work performance is most satisfactory when:
- Job responsibilities are clearly defined by the supervisor.
- Mutual trust and respect are developed between supervisor and student.
- Evaluation and recognition of performance is constructive and continuous.
An employee is more likely to be enthusiastic about the job when there is a clear understanding of how his or her job performance affects the department. Upon hiring a student, the supervisor should plan a thorough orientation program to welcome and introduce the new student employee.
- Provide a written job description and follow up with verbal instructions on typical duties. A well-written job description can set the stage for a smooth and efficient work experience and provide a format for training and evaluation. Demonstrate proper procedures, reinforcing instructions with examples.
- Establish the basic conditions of employment, including rate of pay, work schedules, job duration, and attendance requirements. Explain procedures to follow if employee must be late or absent.
- Explain office rules and regulations, including policies concerning breaks and telephone usage.
- List grounds for corrective action.
- Discuss dress code, if any.
- Provide a general orientation to the purpose and operation of the department and explain departmental goals.
- Introduce the student to the other staff members and give a brief explanation of what each person does.
- Give a tour of the physical surroundings and show where to put personal belongings.
- Tell the student when and how work performance will be evaluated.
- Insure that necessary items are completed and returned to Career and Employment Services so the student will be authorized for payroll. These may include the Online Employment Agreement, I-9 form, and/or W-4 form.
- Consider putting departmental information and work expectations in writing, so that you and the student staff member have a written document to which to refer. Some departments have developed handbooks or work agreements that are useful tools to clarify performance expectations.
Proper training is an ongoing process, and should be planned that way. Your training program should be designed to address training and performance issues (absenteeism, maintaining confidentiality, customer service, etc.) that are essential in your department. By making performance expectations clear, you lay the groundwork for evaluating the student's performance. Most training occurs on the job--you demonstrate and describe the correct methods to be used. Once the student begins employment, you should:
- Provide adequate supervision to the student by communicating expectations clearly. Be sure to provide an opportunity for questions.
- Express your availability and willingness to answer questions and accept suggestions. An atmosphere of two-way communication between you and the employee will enhance the work relationship.
- Remember some common training errors: giving too much information at one time; giving instruction too rapidly; being impatient; failing to determine the student's level of experience; assuming new employees already are familiar with standards of performance; verbalizing instructions without demonstrating techniques; presenting instruction in an illogical sequence; not permitting enough opportunity for questions.
An employee's self-concept has a direct effect on work performance. You are responsible for creating a positive work environment and acknowledging the student's importance in reaching departmental goals.
- Be sure the student's assignment is planned before he or she reports to work. If there is no work to do, the student will assume his or her job is not very important.
- Help motivate the student by expressing interest in the job the student is doing and reinforcing that his or her role has a significant impact on departmental goals.
- Recognize student staff members' accomplishments. Consider special activities for them during Student Employment Month (April). Treat them as you would other valued team members.
Evaluating performance involves comparing actual work performance to the expected performance you identified during your training program. It is a lot easier to do a good job if an employee gets crystal-clear feedback on how he or she is doing. Ongoing evaluation promotes employee effectiveness, development, and job satisfaction. General work expectations are outlined on the back of the employment agreement.
- Establish open communication in the beginning to eliminate future problems.
- Follow up on the work assigned so you know it has been completed correctly and on time. This also reinforces the message that the work is important.
- Provide feedback for both good and below-expected performance. Correction should be constructive, non-judgmental (remember, you are judging the performance, not the person), specific, and positive. Concentrate on how you want the work done by reviewing the expectations you outlined in your training.
- Consider formally evaluating the job performance of student staff members in your department. Performance evaluation criteria might include quality of work, quantity of work, job attitude, dependability, initiative, attendance, knowledge of office, ability to follow directions, communication skills.
- If problems occur, identify the unacceptable work behaviors and specify correct performance. If you don't say anything, the student will assume his or her behavior is acceptable (or, worse, that you don't care about her or his job performance). If verbal notice is unsuccessful in correcting the performance, then written notice should be initiated. Send a copy to the Associate Director of Career and Employment Services. Consult the Associate Director prior to initiating any termination action.
- The Associate Director of Career and Employment Services is available to discuss relevant policies and an appropriate course of action for any student employment related concerns.
Consider these suggestions for items to include in a student employment manual for your office. Choose those which are appropriate for your particular office.
- Map of physical layout.
- Organization chart for your office. Include names, titles, and job responsibilities for each staff member.
- Student staff member job descriptions that outline specific duties and responsibilities.
- Summary of your department's role in supporting the mission of the University.
- Information on general departmental policies and procedures, including confidentiality issues, dress code, and safety procedures.
- Instructions for time sheet submission on the last working day of the month.
- What to say when answering the phone or greeting a visitor.
- Signing on to the computer.
- Answers to commonly asked questions.
- Frequently used phone numbers.
- Procedures for filling out and/or filing forms.
- Copies of commonly used brochures or forms.
- Instructions for arranging time off, calling in sick, or what to do if student will be late.
- Grounds for corrective action.
- Description of methods used to evaluate work performance.