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Lifelong learning for
a fairer Australia

Lifelong learning for
a fairer Australia

Tips and trends : Managing paid staff

Staff involved in adult learning can be a mix of people who volunteer their time and those who are paid.  Here’s our tips for managing paid staff well.

Being a supportive manager pays off. Staff are more likely to enjoy their work and your agency is more likely to achieve its goals. But managing your paid staff successfully takes planning, time and commitment.

Adopt the mindset

Understand the role you’re taking on and what it means. If staff management is new to you, get training for yourself and others involved to make a successful shift to this role.

Know your systems and processes

Save time and prevent problems by making sure you are familiar with the range of HR issues that can arise including details of awards and legislation. Have the relevant documents handy for ready reference.

Have regular one-on-one meetings

Give this a central place in your work life. Meeting with individual staff helps them feel supported and allows you to monitor what they are doing in a proactive and systematic way.

Make the most of team meetings

Team meetings are a chance for staff to be accountable to their peers as well as to you, so allow time for people to report on projects and tasks. Have regular team meetings and use the time to plan, share, and problem solve.

Be a good role model

Demonstrate the behaviour you would like all staff to adopt. Be respectful, help staff feel supported and communicate your interest in their work. Avoid postponing meetings and encourage them to take initiative. You want to be able to rely on your staff and feel confident when you are away that they can manage in your absence. 

Hold regular and meaningful performance reviews

Good performance reviews take time out to focus on a person and how they are feeling about their job and how the job’s working for them. But staff need to feel that it’s a useful exercise. Involve staff in the development of the process and the paperwork – which doesn’t need to be complicated – and make sure they’re happy with it.

Don’t put off uncomfortable conversations

Good day-to-day management and regular performance reviews are likely to prevent staff underperformance but there’ll be times when issues arise.  Let the staff member know they’ve done something inappropriate or worrying straightaway.  Don’t stew over it. For example, take a latecomer aside and say ‘I notice you’ve been coming in late, is there a problem? Don’t assume you know the answer and adopt a joint problem solving approach. If this is really difficult for you, get training or practice with a trusted colleague or friend.

Know your limits

Sometimes you’ll reach the limits of your expertise and confidence. It’s important to think ahead about where to get professional advice. If you do need to consult an Employment Relations advisor, do it early and allow time for them to respond.

Image credit: Receptionists by Magnus Manske CC-BY-2.0


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Adult Learning Australia

Adult Learning Australia