MSPB: Supervisors lack necessary training

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

First line supervisors don’t get the necessary training in how to be a supervisor and manager. That from a new report by the Merit Systems Protection Board which says the result is that first line supervision in most agencies isn’t very good.

James Tsugawa, one of the project leaders on the training report at the Office of Policy and Evaluation at the Merit Systems Protection Board told Federal News Radio, “although most employees think their supervisors are a decent person and trying to do a good job, their trust in supervisors to make the key decisions in things like discipline or pay increases is guarded at best.”

Resources, said Tsugawa, or a lack of them is a big part of the lack of training. Organizations are so focused on the day to day business of getting the work done, they haven’t taken the time to focus on first line supervisors and their training and development.


Another piece of the puzzle, according to the report, is that those most often promoted as technical supervisors rose through the ranks as technicians, not management paths.

The MSPB looked at vacancy announcements and found that technical skills would often be listed as skills needed for the manager, resulting in a pool of technical candidates.

One of the weakest areas, said Tsugawa, concerns performance management and communication with the employee. Employees say they aren’t getting frequent or helpful feedback from supervisors. At the same time, noted Tsugawa, “it does seem that supervisors are not getting the training or reinforcement they need to have those conversations with employees which are important but can be very difficult to have.”

Tsugawa said it’s hoped the report, A Call to Action: Improving First-Level Supervisionof Federal Employees will help agencies justify and defend the resources needed for proper training.