The supervisor/employee relationship is foundational for any organization. National research shows that high performing organizations are made up of engaged employees. Engagement is highest when employees have a clear sense of purpose and a productive working relationship with their supervisors. In the 2011 and 2012 Engagement Surveys, County employees communicated the importance of improving supervisory skills, reducing the management/line staff disconnect and having better tools for performance management. The County's Collaborative Performance Management System (CPMS) addresses these needs, along with the Essential Supervisory Skills Program.

The Essential Supervisory Skills Program (ESS) is a training program to support and benefit everyone with supervisory responsibility (including front line supervisors, managers and above).  The program’s core curriculum includes 16 hours of interactive workshop training on how to supervise as a coach, set performance and development goals for yourself and your team, provide value-added feedback and conduct meaningful performance evaluations. The Essential Supervisory Skills Program helps supervisors and managers become more capable and confident as they carry out their critical role and strengthens their relationship with the employees and teams who report to them.

The program was initially launched in June 2012 and continues to be offered annually. 

Program Highlights

Over 1,050 individuals have participated in the program since it was launched in June 2012, with an 80% completion rate for program participants who have attended at least one session. Participants have consistently given high marks in their evaluation of the training, with the most recent average ratings by workshop ranging from 4.4 – 5.0 on a 5-point scale. Participants said that they valued learning specific best practices and tools and hearing about the real-life experiences of their colleagues. They also appreciated the commitment of the County leaders on the training team (Mike Callagy, Peggy Jensen, John Keene, Nicole Pollack, Kim Cagno, and Rocio Kiryczun). A few quotes from participants are below:

  • “Great training! Very informative and useful information.”
  • “I really appreciate the County's emphasis on coaching and developing the next generation of leaders."
  • The instructors were great. They were able to share a lot of information, and field questions well to keep them from derailing the conversation.
  • “I found sharing experiences and troubleshooting with my peers very helpful and great for building relationships."
  • “Thank you for investing in your supervisors."
  • "This class was very useful, and what I've learned I will go back and share with my team."
  • "This has by far been my favorite training with the County thus far!"
  • "Thank you for the very informative class, with suggestions that can be put to practical use."
  • "The experiences the trainer used were very helpful."

Program Components

  • 16 hours of required training
    • Coaching for performance and development
    • Setting SMART goals and performance expectations
    • Providing effective feedback
    • Evaluating performance
  • Online tools, templates and other resources

Spring 2019 Schedule

All workshops are at 8:30am-12:30pm.

All workshops are held in Redwood City. Please check LMS for exact location.

Workshop topic

Date Options (participants will choose one date for each topic)

  Spring 2019


Tuesday, May 7
Wednesday, June 26

Goal Setting

Tuesday, April 9
Tuesday, May 21


Wednesday, May 29
Tuesday, June 25

Performance Evaluation

Tuesday, June 11


Course Descriptions

Module I:  Coaching for Performance and Development

Workshop Description

This interactive 4-hour workshop will provide participants with the knowledge and skills needed to coach direct reports in order to support their learning and awareness so that they and their employees are more engaged, relationships are strengthened and productivity and job satisfaction are improved.

Learning Objectives, Participants will understand:

  • Specific tools and best practices for coaching
  • The benefits of the coaching approach to supervising
  • How to find opportunities to provide coaching
  • How to recognize and overcome the barriers to coaching
Module II:  Setting Goals to Achieve Performance and Development

Workshop Description

This interactive 4-hour workshop will provide participants with the knowledge and skills needed to craft meaningful goals for themselves and their direct reports. Well-crafted goals typically result in clearer priorities, better action plans, enhanced learning and growth and improved job success for the individual and the organization. Participants will practice goal-setting techniques and use tools and templates that will help quickly reinforce the concepts so that they can be applied right away.

Learning Objectives, Participants will understand:

  • Importance of Setting Goals
  • SMART Formula
  • Goal Setting Steps
Module III:  Providing Effective Feedback

Workshop Description

In our current work environments where conditions change quickly, employees need to continuously learn. Success requires that we all have ways of measuring how we are doing. This interactive 4-hour workshop will provide participants with the knowledge and skills needed to give and receive feedback in order to help improve performance when needed and reinforce behavior and actions that contribute to successful performance. Participants will practice techniques in a variety of familiar situations that will result in increased confidence and ability to handle future interactions, even the very difficult ones.

Learning Objectives, Participants will understand:

  • Importance of Feedback
  • When to Provide Feedback
  • Value-Added Feedback Model
  • How to Prepare and Deliver Feedback
Module IV:  Evaluating Performance

Workshop Description

Evaluating employee performance is an on-going process, not just a once a year activity. This 4-hour, interactive workshop will cover the interpersonal skills, methods and steps necessary to support an effective performance evaluation process.  The goals are to help supervisors set clear expectations, summarize performance in a fair and meaningful way, motivate successful future performance, make and implement sound decisions regarding corrective action and recommend strategies for continued professional growth.

Learning Objectives, Participants will be able to:

  • Understand the importance of regular and open communication
  • Find opportunities to observe performance and provide feedback
  • Identify performance, conduct and behavior problems
  • Take appropriate and timely corrective action when necessary
  • Understand the characteristics of an effective, collaborative performance review and evaluation
  • Prepare and plan for the performance review and evaluation meeting
  • Provide performance examples to explain ratings