Standards for successfully leading temporary employees


Lean leadership is a key element of lean manufacturing and provides a framework for maximising the value of temporary employees. Standardising leadership of temporarily employed people can transform the effort and effectiveness of each individual. This includes:

Standards for on-boarding, inducting, and training.

Standards for basic needs

Standards for respect and trust

Standard leadership walk around

Standards for setting expectations

Standards for giving feedback

Standards communication methods for seeking feedback

1. Standards for on-boarding, inducting, and training.

For new tempora ry employees, a proper induction is essential before starting work. It is a legal obligation in many countries.

However, temporary employees don’t just need to be inducted in to the physical workplace (e.g the location of the toilets) and the safety rules, but also need to be inducted in to the culture of the business.

When introducing the employee to the work place the initial tour of the premises is a crucial forum to set expectations.  When this induction is only done by the employment agency it misses the cultural induction.

Often the induction tour will be completed by another front line employee.

This is okay as long as the person doing the induction is properly trained, understands their responsibility and properly represents the supervisor.

Each temporary employee should meet their supervisor before they start working and the ideally before the induction tour takes place.

The induction tour needs to be in a structure of


How it is,

How it is not,

Why and then the rule for each area.

Here is an example that could apply in any work place:

What – “This is the lunch room.”

How it is – “You can see the dishes are washed, the lunches put away and the fridge has only labelled containers for meals.”

How it is Not – “We used to have meals in plastic bags.”

Why – “Plastic Bags take up too much space and often meals would be left in the bags and have to be thrown out.

You can see from the photos of how it used to be and how it is now.”

The rule – “All meals need to be in a plastic container with your name labelled clearly.”

2. Standards for basic needs

Basic needs are about providing employment and income and having accurate expectations of work hours and income.

Consider what each person needs to have their basic needs met.

3. Standards for respect and trust

Have your frontline leaders define how individuals are to be spoken to and write down examples.  Help the frontline leaders adapt their personal style in brief role play.  Equipping leaders with simple phrases can make a big change to individual temporary employees.

Temporary employees need a lot of reassurance. Often supervisors, managers, and frontline leaders don’t have time to get to know each short-term temporary employees at a personal level.

Ideally it is better if you can get to know each person and understand their motivations.

Applying these seven steps should free up time more time for your leaders to work on building these relationships.

4. Standard leadership walk around

Structure the leadership walk around, which includes doing a set walk around the work place at defined times during the work day. This includes noticing and giving feedback to temporary employees, not just the permanent team.

5. Standards for setting expectations

Maintain the integrity of the frontline leaders by having them set realistic and accurate expectations.  Job skills training, job rotation, what is good, what is not good are workplace expectations that can be managed and can help a temporary employee work with certainty.  The standards for setting these expectations needs to be defined by the frontline leaders.

This again can be workshopped by a group of frontline leaders and then role played to refine and standardise.  This process typically takes less than an hour.

6. Standards for giving feedback

Giving feedback should follow a consistent methodology among the frontline leaders and be given in a way that maintains personal style.  Coaching frontline leaders in giving feedback is a role of the supervisor and manager.

The way feedback is given is a key way in which your culture will be defined by your employees, temporary and permanent.

7. Standard communication methods for seeking feedback

Temporary employees typically feel uncertain and not in a position to raise issues.

Frontline leaders and key influencers in the workplace have roles to observe, ask, clarify, and reassure.

The Toyota standard is to observe, respect the individual by showing empathy and not blame, ask why the observed behaviour is happening (and keep asking why up to a notional five times), challenge the barrier, and then lead the countermeasures to fix the immediate behaviour and the long term behaviour.

leaders to provide all employees with the environment to perform and improve the business processes every day.

This applies to all staff including long term full time employees and short term or seasonal temporary employees.

Anthony Clyne is Lean Consulting Director with TXM.

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