Best Practices: Helping Frontline Employees Transition to Frontline Supervisors

Feb. 17, 2021
NTI partnered with Insight Strategies to develop a course to prepare new and future frontline supervisors.

New Brunswick - For nearly 30 years, the National Transit Institute (NTI) has served as the training and education arm of the transit industry and has delivered 7,000 courses and training events to 200,000 transit professionals. NTI courses and training programs focus on Federal Transit Administration regulations, policies and procedures for transit operators and planners. But, recently, NTI expanded its course array to include frontline supervisory and management training.  

Supervising is no easy task, especially in the dynamic environment of a transit agency. Every day presents challenges. Supervisors are accountable for their own productivity and that of frontline workers they are responsible for. Supervisors serve as “translators” between the frontline and senior agency leadership. Their technical and professional skills are tested daily. Across the transit industry, frontline workers have consistently been promoted into supervisory positions without the professional skills to successfully lead and manage. We know from Transit Cooperative Research Program research1  that many transit supervisors are “hired and put to work…with little or no formal training or orientation in supervisory skills such as leading and coaching others, development and training of subordinates, decision making and effective interpersonal communications.”

To offer the industry a training platform to prepare new and future frontline supervisors, NTI partnered with Insight Strategies, Inc., an innovative consulting, coaching and learning organization, to develop a new course titled “Transitioning from Frontline Employee to Frontline Supervisor. This transit-specific learning and development course for new supervisors or those transitioning into supervisory roles is segmented into eight interactive modules:

  1. Introduction to the Course
  2. Skills for Supervision: Applying Lessons from The Best & Worst Managers Ever!
  3. Transitioning from a Frontline Employee to a Frontline Supervisor
  4. Communicating as a Supervisor
  5. Supervising Your Former Peers
  6. Supervising a Multi-Generational Workforce
  7. Managing Conflict
  8. Motivating Employees to Succeed

Insight was chosen to develop and deliver this course based on its experience in transit and high quality and engaging facilitation style. For more than 25 years, Insight has worked with 40-plus transit/transportation organizations across the U.S. It is a member of the American Public Transportation Association, WTS International, the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials and is a former leadership development partner with the Eno Center for Transportation.

To ensure the course content would address real-world needs, various transit agencies were surveyed to identify critical leadership skills for frontline supervisors. After the training curriculum was developed, the course was piloted to a diverse group of transit agency staff to validate both the content and the participant facilitation techniques.

The Insight facilitation team lead four, high-energy sessions of the course in late 2020 where supervisors from more than 80 different transit agencies participated. In addition to the targeted audience of new or soon-to-be frontline supervisors, a pleasant surprise was the participation of seasoned supervisors and non-operations/maintenance supervisors.

To date, the course has been a success, that, hopefully, addresses a critical industry training need. To learn more about the course and register please go to:


1 TCRP Synthesis 16 Changing Roles and Practices of Bus Field Operators        
National Transit Institute (NTI)
Nti 11486745