7.3 Responsibilities of Supervisors

This policy was last updated August 22, 2023. See the update history page for more information.

Many persons at MIT have, as supervisors, responsibility for organizing and directing the work of others. These responsibilities fall also upon those not clearly designated as supervisors. While the daily responsibilities of academic staff members are primarily their professional and scholarly activities of research and teaching, many among them, especially the faculty, are also supervisors guiding the work of others, including campus research staff members, postdoctoral associates, administrative assistants, and graduate students.

The responsibilities of supervisors include understanding and fairly administering Institute and departmental policies concerning employees, setting work standards, and providing an inclusive environment that fosters open communication regarding work-related issues. Supervisors are expected to oversee their employees’ performance – managing and evaluating work, providing feedback, recognizing work well done and addressing unsatisfactory performance – and to provide opportunities for professional growth and development.  See Employment Policy Manual Section 3.3 for guidance on performance feedback, performance reviews, and corrective action. Supervisors are, of course, held to the standards of personal conduct that apply to all members of the MIT community. Section 9.1 Personal Conduct and Responsibilities Towards Members of the MIT Community.

Supervisors may not require employees to work on their personal or nonprofessional affairs, nor may employees be required to perform personal services, except where inherent in the nature of the position and defined in the position description.

7.3.1 Addressing Complaints by or Against Employees; Required Notifications

Supervisors are encouraged to address work-related concerns and complaints informally with those involved at the local level, as early as possible. When supervisors learn of employee concerns or complaints, they should attempt to address them in a respectful, responsive and timely manner.

The Institute’s procedures for addressing concerns that an Institute employment policy was violated or misapplied (that is, applied in an arbitrary or capricious manner) are found at Section 9.8, and include both informal and formal procedures. Retaliation against anyone for raising a complaint or participating in the Institute’s complaint resolution procedure, whether as a witness or otherwise, is prohibited. (See Section 9.7 Non-Retaliation)

If a supervisor is informed of an allegation that an MIT employee violated MIT’s policies against sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, or discrimination or discriminatory harassment based on a protected status, the supervisor must promptly notify the Institute Discrimination and Harassment Response office (IDHR).  See Section 9.5.1 Sexual Harassment,  Sexual Misconduct, Gender-Based Harassment, Title IX Sexual Harassment; Section 9.5.2 Stalking; Section 9.3 Nondiscrimination. This obligation to notify applies to allegations that any MIT employee violated one of these policies, even if the employee does not report to that supervisor. The supervisor should also contact the department Director of Administration and Finance or human resources professional, or contact their human resources officer or professional in the central human resources office.

In addition, if the supervisor is informed of any allegations of other policy violations (that is, not involving protected status), the supervisors should inform their departmental or HR contacts. See also the Human Resources guidance on raising complaints.