Five Strategies for Training Hispanic Supervisors

Food manufacturers can blend traditional authoritarian Latino leadership style with a U.S.-style "best practices" mode of supervision.

By Mariah DeForest, Contributor

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Strategy 2. Helping foreign-born supervisors manage their departments rather than simply giving orders to their workers: Most supervisors are reluctant to ask for help. In Latin cultures especially, it's a sign of weakness. The benefits of the training were increased when we showed plant managers how to guide subordinate Latino supervisors on a regular basis. Supervisor-manager meetings presented a strong "role model" to authoritative-style supervisors. If the plant manager can do it without losing face, they could. This guidance reinforced the supervisory training. Here's what supervisors had to say:

"I never had a personal meeting with my boss before. I thought he was going to bawl me out for the amount of waste we were having on the dicers, but he sat me down and he gave me some ideas for getting the guys to try harder to keep [waste] at a minimum. I appreciated it."

"My boss never talked much to me, would just hand me the production schedule. The other day he told me individual meetings are a part of my training. So we sat down and went over the schedules, and he gave me suggestions on how to rotate the jobs and keep employee complaints down. It worked out just like he said."

These meetings resulted in far fewer production delays and waste issues as supervisors learned seeking guidance was not a sign of weakness. Improved manager-supervisor communication trickled down, and supervisors found holding line meetings with their packing crews also ironed out a lot of problems.

LESSON No. 2: Face-to-face communications between the plant management and individual supervisors is a must to reinforce the concepts taught by training.

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