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 4. Using goals to encourage teamwork in a diverse workforce: The Latino supervisor's natural tendency to favoritism based on ethnicity and language was altered by teaching them to focus on goals encouraging teamwork. There was much less concern about language and cultural differences and much more cooperation when supervisors were taught how to reach specific goals. Here's what a supervisor said:

"It was an eye-opener. I have a mixed group, some Spanish and some English. There was always this attitude that I give the Spanish speakers extra consideration since we talked the same language. When we started concentrating on reaching daily goals on maintaining line speeds, people were more willing to stop bickering and help each other, rather than asking for special consideration."

"With daily and weekly goals, we got a lot more teamwork since we were all working to the same thing. Some workers put pressure on others to keep product moving and not fall behind."

Setting specific department goals improved the sense of mutual responsibility among employees. Interestingly enough, being required to reach goals gave workers more of a sense of security than of fear. They knew where they stood. Here's what one worker said:

"Other workers near me didn't pass along any information from the supervisor. They wouldn't tell me how to adjust the in-line mixer, which made my life harder. When we had targets to achieve, though, people stopped fooling around, and we all got down to work. It made quite a difference in how much we put out."

LESSON No. 4: Goal setting focuses supervisors, and subsequently their employees, on quantity and quality and reduces favoritism. The resulting cooperation in 20 of the 23 food processors helped foreign-born supervisors improve their individual departments' productivity substantially.

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