Here we are, another month in another new year. As we all know many things can happen over the course of a year and with about 260 work days it may be tough to remember what occurred on a Tuesday, ten months ago. Why is that important? That’s why I continue this series, because through no fault of your own you may have not received the information or training needed to be successful at your job. A new supervisor faces many challenges and hopefully this will help give you the confidence to do the job correctly and an edge over the competition while impressing your bosses.
The best investment you can make during your entire career is a 3 X 5 note pad. Yea, it’s analog technology but it won’t crash and can’t be hacked. This note pad will help you keep track of events that occur during your shift and is easy to keep in your back pocket while you are making the rounds on the shop floor, warehouse stacks, shipping docks or around the outside of the facility.
Events? During the course of your busy day you have many events to handle. [First this – if you document employee actions in your 3 X 5 note pad it is now a legal document and you need to be very specific in your notes with no color commentary.] Event 1 – if you do annual reviews you don’t want to rely only on recent events that stand out in your mind to evaluate an employee, it’s not fair to them. So when you look back to Tuesday, ten months ago you’ll see your note of an observation that Bob stopped his forklift and got off to pick trash up off the floor and dropped it in a container. No good deed should go un-noted and even though you told Bob then, good job, you’ll see the pattern of responsibility on his part in your notes and recommend and develop him for a leadership role. So for good and bad, keep notes for reviews, raises and recognition. When I observed an employee properly wearing their PPE on a consistent basis I made a note and made sure they received a certificate of recognition and noted on their review. If I had to remind an employee once in a great while to wear PPE and they complied, never bothered noting it but if it became several times a week then yes, make a note. You need to protect yourself as well and if the employee goes and gets injured and his lawyer tried to say you never said anything, you have proper documentation. There are good notes and bad notes but you need to record all the notes in straight forward language without any color commentary. In other words, just the facts.
Event 2 – You deal with different vendors on a daily basis as well as staff, including but not limited to overnight delivery services, shipping companies, temporary staffing firms, HVAC and refrigeration, facilities maintenance, grounds keeping, forklift maintenance and repair, equipment rentals and other various suppliers from office supplies to raw materials. Track the quality of service you receive, do they resolve issues quickly, do they return phone calls in a timely manner, do their drivers follow your facilities rules, do their repair staff respect your facility? These are good indicators especially when it comes to repairs and maintenance of equipment, do repairs last or do they come out often? Check with corporate as they may keep a report card on vendors and your information will be very helpful for future contract negotiations. Never wait until the end of the year and blindside a vendor with a laundry list of issues. Give them an opportunity to work them out before they become a serious issue so bring to your representatives attention right away.
Event 3 – Like a circus juggler performing in the center ring, you have many different items up in the air at the same time so while you walk you facility it helps to use your note pad when you come across items that need attention. Make note right as you see them and before being distracted by another item in the air. These items can be but not limited to broken cross bar, emergency exit light not working, missing extinguisher, leaking valve, machine guard missing. When you get back to your desk you can refer to your notes as you complete work-orders for the repairs.
Event 4 – Another great reason to carry a 3 x 5 notepad is you never know when an idea is going to hit! Like being in the shower when great ideas pop into your head, something you see happening in the facility could spark an idea. Write it down, you don’t want to forget it. An idea for a safety meeting topic or an area needing additional lighting? Even make note of ideas employees bring to your attention. Look into it, then make sure to get back to the employee on the status of their idea.
When you take the position of a supervisor, you are responsible for the safety and well being of your staff and customers. You are responsible for delivering the best experience for your customer within a safe environment as well as safe and nurturing for your staff. You are caught between and need to find a way to balance the goals and culture of corporate with the realities of your location and situation. They don’t want to hear excuses, they only want the goals met so how you get there is somewhat up to you. Take advantage, be creative but most of all treat people with respect, develop their talents, be firm but always fair and make sure to make notes.