7.3 Responsibilities of Supervisors

This policy was last updated December 20, 2016. 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

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 Retaliation)

If the concern or complaint alleges harassment or discrimination, the supervisor should contact the department Administrative Officer or human resources professional, or contact their human resources officer or professional in the central human resources office. Those individuals also can provide advice for other employee conflicts, as can the Ombuds. In some circumstances, professionals contacted through MIT’s Personal Assistance Program may  be helpful resources. Supervisors should also refer to MIT’s policy against harassment at Section 9.4 as well as the Guidelines for Raising Complaints about Harassment.   

Resolving concerns for unionized employees may be covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Questions regarding unionized employees should be directed to the human resources officer on campus or to a human resources professional at Lincoln Laboratory, or to the Human Resources Office’s manager of labor relations.