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  • Writer's pictureOSI Sustainability

At TurOSI, An Elevated Frontline Supervisor Training Program Tackles Tough Topics

In 2020, managers at TurOSI, OSI's joint-venture in Australia, decided to try a new approach to training supervisors and team leaders who oversee the critical factory and farming work we do for customers.

With a direct line to our largest group of employees, these supervisors and team leaders are in a strong position to influence our workforce and culture. With this in mind, managers decided to introduce an elevated leadership training program tailored to very specific TurOSI needs and committed to tackling even the most difficult topics.

Rather than invite external trainers to conduct generic leadership training, we decided to develop an internal program rooted in practical needs and framed around the important role team leaders and supervisors play in the larger organization.

The two-day training program, which was first offered in 2021, begins with a history of TurOSI and an overview of the organization and the key customers it serves. It then delves into practical topics from team building, goal setting and safety, to navigating difficult conversations and recognizing when someone on a team might need assistance with mental health — a topic that has become increasingly relevant amid the pandemic.

"I've been through the mental health training and while it does cover difficult subjects, it also empowers people in the plants to recognize and assist team members who may be having difficulties," said Leanne McPherson, TurOSI's National OHS Claims Manager and Business EEO contact, who pointed out that the training does not equip supervisors to treat mental health, but to act as a first responder and get the appropriate help for those in need. "It reflects our commitment to taking care of our people."

Executive Insights

While most of the training is presented by TurOSI managers, external experts are brought in for certain portions, including the Mental Health First Aid training, which has been conducted by retired Olympic athlete-turned mental health and organizational wellbeing consultant, Dr. Lee Naylor OAM, OLY.

Notably, members of TurOSI's Executive Committee are also involved in the program. They join to speak to participants about their own career journeys, current role in the business, how they define business success and how frontline supervisors and team leaders can help contribute to that success.

In addition to new and existing supervisors and team leaders, employees targeted for advancement are also invited to participate in the training, which was piloted at one facility before being rolled out further.

To ensure that as many people as possible can join, managers designed the program in modules that can be offered all at once over the course of two days, or individually for shorter blocks of time.

Positive Feedback and Calls for More

To date, 16 training programs have been conducted for more than 150 participants at six TurOSI sites with plans for additional programs in the works, in response to the positive feedback TurOSI has received so far.

In post-training questionnaires, participants have described the program as "eye opening" and "relevant" and have expressed especially positive reactions to the mental health training and time with members of the executive team. Many have indicated that they appreciated learning more about the career paths of executives and general managers, which can help inform their own next steps. Others, meanwhile, have indicated that they plan to spend more time supporting and checking in on the wellbeing of their team members as a result of the training.

As more leaders go through the course, TurOSI expects to see the lessons learned disseminate through its plants and farming and manifest in even more safe and respectful workplaces where attentive and motivated team members are supported and cared for by their supervisors.

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