Supervising & Managing-Career and Professional Development Center - Carnegie Mellon University

Supervising & Managing

Think of a supervisor you admired. What impressed you most? Did you feel mutual respect? What can you do to integrate that supervisor’s strengths into your own leadership style?

To build credibility as a supervisor, treat people fairly and consistently and treat your staff with the same respect with which you would like to be treated. Avoid gossip, and form impressions of employees based on your own experience rather than on rumors.


1. During a job interview, it is essential to clearly explain job responsibilities, performance expectations, pay rates,
    and work schedules associated with the position.
2. After hiring a student worker, instruct the new employee to report to the Payroll Services to fill out the I-9 form and
    W-4 forms. (Completing the Direct Deposit and WTEX forms is optional.)
3. Provide the appropriate training and workspace for each student employee.
4. Remove the student job from TartanTrak when it is filled.
5. Be certain that student timecards are accurate before signing and submitting to Payroll Services. The supervisor’s
    signature certifies that the student has actually worked all hours reported.


It is strongly suggested that each department develop and use a “Student Employment Policy and Procedures Manual” when orienting and training student employees. This manual should contain the policies and procedures that student employees who work in their department are expected to follow as well as any department information that is relevant to the student employee’s job.The following Performance and Professional expectations for student employees can be used as a reference and guideline in creating a manual.

Customer Service

When addressing the public, whether on the phone or in person, it is of utmost importance for the employee to be friendly, kind and helpful. Student employees are extremely valuable ambassadors for the University. It is critical that all customers (students, prospective students and families, staff, faculty or off campus constituents) are treated with respect and grace.

Personal Appearance

Although there is no set dress code for most campus positions, students are expected to dress neatly and appropriately in their role as a student employee. “Campus casual” clothing is almost always acceptable as long as it is in good taste. In general, student employees should avoid wearing tank or crop tops, tattered or ripped clothing, or sweat pants, and must wear shoes at all times. Clothing that could potentially interfere with their work or be distracting or offensive to others is not permitted. Departments may require different clothing rules based on their interaction with the public and the type of work that is performed. But, at all times, student employees must present themselves in a way compatible with the mission of Carnegie Mellon.

Telephone Use and Personal Visitors

In most departments, students are not permitted to receive or make personal phone calls while at work except in the case of an emergency. When meeting friends or family at the work place, student employees should be encouraged to arrange to meet them in the lobby or outside of the work area. Most departments have limited space and are open to the public, so it can be very distracting to other staff members if personal discussions are taking place. All visiting (on the phone or in person) should take place during scheduled breaks or lunch periods. This also applies to student employees visiting with each other within the confines of an office. Supervisors should provide guidance regarding times when visiting with other employees is appropriate.

Computer Use

Many students may receive email messages that are directly related to their work. While it is appropriate to read and respond to work-related email, it may not be appropriate to read or respond to personal email while at work. It may also not be appropriate to surf the Internet or use work computers for personal reasons.

Work Area Expectations

Departments may have specific work spaces set aside for student employees or may have students share space and equipment with other staff. In either case, it is important that student employees are considerate of others and keep the work area clean and presentable. Supervisors should discuss specific expectations with student employees.

Performance Evaluation

A work performance evaluation is an effective means of ensuring communication between the student employee and supervisor. If you choose to conduct performance appraisals, all students should receive them. The Student Employee Appraisal Review Form is available in the Student Employment website. Both the student and the supervisor should discuss the evaluation results and formulate goals for the future. (This form is to be used for departmental evaluation and is NOT to be sent to the Career Center.)

Addressing Problems

Addressing work performance problems is one of a supervisor’s most difficult and stressful responsibilities. Even more difficult is when disciplinary action or termination is necessary. The following guidelines may help you, as a supervisor, deal with such situations.

• Plan ahead what to say. Focus on the gap between expectations and performance.
• When discussing performance problems, it is important to talk about the problem in concrete terms and not use subjective judgments.
   Avoid general statements of dissatisfaction.
• Make sure that the employee understands the problem and the consequences of the behavior.
• To improve the performance, develop specific strategies and stay away from generalities about overall needed improvement.
• Give feedback, especially negative feedback, in private, and make sure there are no interruptions when you are meeting.
• Listen to the employee’s point of view.
• Ask the employee what ideas he/she has for improving performance.
• Prepare your suggestions for improvement in advance and develop a plan of action.

If you need assistance dealing with a problem situation, contact Pati Kravetz, Director of Student Employment, at 8-7052 or


One of the most effective ways to enhance your experience as a supervisor is to motivate and retain student employees.
Tell students often and sincerely how important their work is to your department.

• Be a considerate and supportive supervisor.
• Express appreciation and listen to students’ opinions and input as team members.
• Nominate your student for the Student Employee of the Year Recognition Award Program.
• Provide adequate space, tools and guidance to help student employees succeed.
• Allow (controlled) use of available conveniences (copiers fax, phone, etc.) by student employees.
• Include student employees in department celebrations.
• Give special recognition to those students graduating.
• Once a month, ask full-time staff to bring in treats/snacks for student workers.
• Post student employee pictures and list their contributions to your department on a bulletin board.
• Start an award recognition program. Buy low cost, blank certificates and create special awards such as Employee of the Month/Week,
  Great Idea Award, Gotcha Award (for when you catch a student in the act of doing something great).
• Attend the Student Employee Appreciation Lunch sponsored by the Career Center.

For more ideas on motivating student employees, contact Pati Kravetz, Director or Student Employment, at