What is important for me to know now about working with and supervising staff?
Suggestions to get you started:
1. Hiring and maintaining excellent staff ensures that your department operates well. Staff are also critical in delivering the academic, research, and outreach mission of the colleges and institution.
- Learn what everyone does (What is their job description and what are they actually doing?).
- Over the summer, ask for a department organizational chart, list of staff, summary of their responsibilities, and copies of their job descriptions to review.
2. How to supervise and work with your staff:
- As a new leader, you may consider taking a workshop on supervision, team building, inclusive community, difficult conversations, or effective communication, etc. through the Office of Faculty Development, Workplace Learning and Development, or ADVANCE.
- Begin the semester by scheduling regular check-in meetings. Talk about priorities, ideas and concerns. Listening is an important step in addressing any future challenges.
- Make sure job responsibilities and expectations are clear and accurate and that the job descriptions align with their duties.
- Ask for guidance from your college's HR staff or the Associate Provost for Academic Personnel with staff issues you can't solve by yourself.
3. If you have any staff openings, recognize that the hiring process can be time-consuming and frustrating. Work closely with your college or department administrative staff to understand and move the hiring process along -- from position descriptions, requisitions, recruitment, to the actual hiring.
- Staff appointments vary. They may include professional staff (e.g. staff responsible for personnel management or budget oversight), classified staff (e.g. bookkeeping and clerical tasks), or temporary staff (03s) for short term assistance. These positions are easier to fill when a department is suddenly short-staffed, for example.
- Ask your college or department personnel staff to give you an overview about the Professional Staff Union (PSU) and the University Staff Association Affiliate of the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) unions. The benefits and expectations are different for each union and important to consider as you hire and support staff.
- Your college HR office can also offer guidance on how to write a job description.
5. An annual performance evaluation is part of each staff's personnel file and is valuable as an important discussion tool. these important meetings may be hard to schedule among other time-sensitive, competing demands.
- Schedule all staff during the same month for efficiency.
- The performance conversation and staff professional development should be an ongoing and regular conversation….not just at the end of the year.
6. Regular appreciation of your staff goes a long way!
- Communicating sincere thanks, holding celebrations (with chocolate), and acknowledging hard work is important. If you think you are not good at remembering these types of things, then put a reminder on your calendar, or ask someone who enjoys organizing events, to take responsibility for celebrations.
- Staff awards are public recognition and demonstrate a staff member's value to the department. Some schools/colleges have unique awards for staff. The Chancellor's Citation Award is a respected university-wide award, with nominations in February.
- Human Resources Employment Website which contains information about hiring salaries, procedures, current job openings (as examples), etc.
- Hybrid and Remote Work Guidelines for Staff
- Lead+ has tips on staff supervision, having difficult conversations, and more.
- The Chancellor's Citation Awards is a university-wide award honoring UMass staff members who demonstrate outstanding performance. Nominations are due in February.