Tips for Supervisors

To ensure that all staff participate in professional development in a way that supports individual, departmental, and university strategic goals, we have developed the following suggestions for supervisors.

How can I use the professional development and enrichment course list to help staff meet their performance objectives?

First, review the course offerings in the current course list with staff members' performance objectives in mind.

Then initiate a conversation with the staff member. You might open the conversation by saying, "I've been looking at the latest campus professional development list, and I've got some ideas about courses that might help you meet your work goals. Why don't you take a look at the catalog and then we can discuss your interests. When could you be ready to talk about that?"

You may also use the Professional Development Worksheet for staff members to discuss, plan for, and document training or other intended actions. [For performance issues or overall performance planning, use the Performance Development Plan.]

If you have questions related to specific staff situations, please feel free to contact Nancy Nieraeth, Director of Employment and People Development, at 253.879.3541.

What do I do if staff members ask to attend training I think is unrelated to their jobs?

Course catalogs remind staff members to obtain supervisor approval before registering for courses. If you want staff members to make their requests in a particular way, let them know right away so that they can meet any registration deadlines. Remember that the opportunity to attend training is often considered an important non-monetary reward of work, highly correlated with job satisfaction.

You may also want to refer staff to Tips for Staff Members on Requesting and Preparing for Training, which we've included below:

Before requesting your supervisor's approval to attend training, consider

  • How will the program assist you in your daily work or benefit you personally?
  • How will you share any learned information with your work group following training? (for example, routing materials and notes to your colleagues, arranging to present a brief overview of learned material in an all-staff meeting, meeting with your supervisor, or making a recommendation for other colleagues to attend the same course)
  • To minimize potential disruption to your department, how could work coverage be handled, or job tasks reprioritized, while you attend training?

If you believe the requested training is unrelated, let the staff member know that you're not clear about how the course will assist him/her in performing the job. Ask the staff member to review the questions above to prepare to discuss their request with you further.

Why are non-work-related courses included in campus professional development offerings?

The majority of course offerings relate directly to university priorities. However, while it is expected that staff will primarily attend training closely related to their work responsibilities or longer-term professional goals, all staff members should also be offered the opportunity to attend some courses of personal interest each year. These courses (categorized under the learning target "I want tools to manage other parts of my life") exist

  • To enhance our professional effectiveness through personal enrichment
  • To inspire creativity
  • To build community
  • To augment the perceived "rewards" of work through low-cost options
  • To provide opportunities to develop work-life balance and healthy behaviors
  • To provide leadership, teaching, and public speaking opportunities for internal subject-matter experts

How do I ensure that staff members bring their learning back into the workplace?

As we've all experienced in training situations, it's a use-it-or-lose-it proposition! Experts estimate that as much as 80% of learning leaves us the moment we exit the classroom.

To minimize this phenomenon, we encourage supervisors to recognize program completion and provide opportunities for staff members to teach others what they've learned. Having to teach what was learned actually improves understanding, retention, and the transfer of information to the workplace.

Some simple ways to recognize completion while reinforcing learning include:

  • Acknowledging and commending completion in a one-on-one or department meeting or celebration event
  • Asking the staff member to make recommendations about using learned concepts or tools in the workplace (and then supporting them as they try out their ideas)
  • In the staff member's performance review, highlighting training completed, and notifying your next-level supervisor of the staff member's participation in training.