Resources for Leaders & Supervisors 

What New Leaders Need to Know about HR in SIL 

Unit Directors and others in a leadership or supervisory role will need to be aware of what the organization expects of them regarding HR processes. This section gives a basic overview of HR for leaders. It addresses topics such as policies, processes, HR expectations of supervisors, conflict/mediation, handling complains, file storage, and more. It is important to note that the information below is generally applicable across SIL. You will also need to know how HR is applied in your context, so you are strongly encouraged to set up a meeting with your HR Director soon after filling a new leadership role.

Ethos of HR 

3. The HR Life Cycle

There are various activities that occur throughout the stages of a person’s involvement with SIL. We’ve traditionally done well with getting people to serve in our units but the world is changing.  We need to ensure that processes and tasks are done at appropriate times to ensure the wellbeing of our people and their contribution to the organisation. We use the HR Life Cycle to think through the tasks and processes that need to happen at each stage and ensure that we are doing the relevant activities.  

Workday is the HR Information System that SIL and many of our Partner Organizations use to complete these HR tasks. 

 f.  Placement & Onboarding.  Putting staff members into an SIL assignment

g. Orientation. Each OU will have a specific orientation to their particular OU and country that new staff need to complete. Language learning can also be a part of Orientation. If Onboarding tasks have not been completed, they should be included as part of orientation.  

h. During assignment: Management & Development. HR is often responsible to support and monitor OU supervisors in specific ways as they lead their staff.  

i. Offboarding 

Note that when staff want to return from home assignment back to their OU, two things need to be in place: an invitation/work assignment offer from the OU and permission from their sending organization to return.

4. Getting Organized

Principles of GDPR:

5. HR Related Domains. 

With Global. Although your Area HR person will be your primary organizational HR contact, there will be times when you will interact with those in global HR. 

The SIL People Strategies Global team has three HR domains - People Care (including Staff Care, Security & Risk Management, HR Response, and TCK Care & Education), People Systems (including HR Data Systems, HR Policy, and HR Training and Resources), and Workforce Innovations (including Learning & Development and Recruitment). However, some units organize their departments differently, so in your unit you may find that some of these domains are not under your HR department and your HR department may have additional domains not listed. In larger units, you may have one or more staff serving in an HR domain, whereas in very small units there may be one person responsible for more than one HR domain.

6. Dealing with difficult situations.

To think of it in different terms, there will be things that you:

2. Policies - Familiarize yourself with the SIL policies and the levels of severity

3. Processes:

4. Mediation/Conflict resolution. Keep it informal as long as possible.

5. Child safeguarding training and cases.  

6. Legal potential awareness/issues

Make sure you are aware of any local labor/employment laws in consultation with your leadership or Area HR.


Additional resources:

Supervisor’s Toolkit Session Recordings and Materials

Handling Difficult Conversations - KvR

Upcoming Foundational Training for all Team Leaders/Supervisors - in development

Leadership Courses at

East Zone Care & Well-Being Site 

An Overview of the SIL Reporting Structure and how HR fits into it

Organizational Units, Areas, Zones, and Global

     SIL is basically divided into three reporting-level tiers:

Organizational Units - these are the on-the-ground groups that do the language-related work of SIL. Each of these has a Unit Director, and as part of their team, an HR Manager. HR managers in a Unit report directly to their Unit Director (or designate), NOT to a higher-up HR person. However, when the HR Manager has questions and needs support or training, they consult the next level up - their Area HR Director.

Areas - Organizational Units are grouped into Areas, mostly (but not always) by geographical location. Areas have an Area Director, and as part of their team, an Area HR Director. The Area Director and team lead and support the Organizational Units under them. The Area HR Director reports to their Area Director (or designate), NOT to a higher-up HR person. However, when the Area HR Director has questions and needs support or training, they consult the next level up - the People Strategies - Global team.

Global - Areas are grouped into Zones as part of the global structure. Area Directors report to a Zonal AED. The top-tier of HR in SIL is the People Strategies - Global director (sometimes referred to as the Chief Human Resources Officer, or CHRO), who reports to the AED of International Operations.

The People Strategies - Global team, International Administration (IA) HR, International Language Services (ILS) HR - Many times people in SIL get these HR teams confused since they all are globally-based and HR-related. Hopefully this will help you to understand the differences and know who to go to when you need HR input.

The People Strategies - Global team - This is the top-tier of SIL HR. It prioritizes strategic thinking in all aspects of HR throughout the organization. It's also the highest level in SIL to consult with on staffing issues. This team focuses on transformational HR rather than transactional HR (which is provided by IA HR). Transactional HR functions for staff who are assigned to an International Administrative role are provided by IA or ILS HR departments.

International Administration (IA) HR - IA HR provides HR services for anyone employed by SIL in the US, or seconded to SIL into a Global (but not ILS) assignment. The IA HR Director reports to the AED of International Operations. International Administration HR, due to its size and position in the organization, basically operates like an Area and as such, the IA HR Director interacts with the other Area HR Directors.

International Language Services (ILS) HR - ILS HR provides HR services for SIL staff assigned to the ILS team. ILS provides language-related services globally. The ILS HR Director reports to the AED of Language Services. International Language Services HR, due to its size and position in the organization, basically operates like an Area and as such, the ILS HR Director interacts with the other Area HR Directors.

Supervisory Expectations (also called Staff Engagement)

All SIL supervisors are expected to be proactive in leading their staff members. Here is information to help you do that well.

What staff need from you:

Clear Job Expectations.  Clear job expectations are necessary for staff well-being so that each staff person can be confident that they are doing what is expected of them. Some instruments we use to provide this are PRDs and SMART Goals. Your HR staff are a support to you in this task.

A Good Job Fit. The staff person's position should be crafted in such a way to be a good balance between the needs and priorities of the organization, and the giftings and skill-set of the person. This can be refined as the supervisor gets to know the person and as the needs and priorities of the organization shift. The 80-20 rule is a helpful guide for finding a good job fit.  In that people are spending 80% of their time doing what fits their passion and skill set and 20% of their time doing the parts of their job that needs to get done but it's not their favorite. 

Regular, planned check-ins. Regular check-ins between supervisors and their direct reports are important for staff to stay motivated and clear on their job expectations, and for the supervisor to gauge the well-being and workload of the staff person. The minimum expectation is that supervisors will meet for a check-in with their direct reports one-to-one at least quarterly, but most meet monthly. The check-ins should be planned and intentional, and can take place in-person for those in the same location or virtually for those who are not. Group and/or team meetings and emailed monthly reports do not count as one-to-one check-ins. No paperwork needs to be submitted to the organization for a check-in, but it is recommended that shared notes are taken for the benefit of both.

Performance feedback. All staff need to have an annual performance review (APR) each year with their supervisor. This time set aside to review the year can be very encouraging for staff to be reminded of all they have accomplished in the past year. APRS are also important to help staff remain motivated and on track and to know how they are doing. Although, if there is a problem with the staff person's performance, the annual review shouldn't be the first time they hear of it. They should be told of the issue during a regular check-in (or a meeting specially set for that purpose) and given the opportunity to improve before their annual review. Annual Review forms are available (see folder of templates), but you are welcome to use any annual review form that suits your situation and context. As an international organization, we recognize that annual reviews need to happen in different ways in different cultural contexts. Often leaders are given a 360-type review. Regardless of what actual form you use, the APR will need to be signed by both the staff person and the supervisor and submitted to HR. For seconded staff, the APR will also be shared with the staff person's sending organization. It is fine if the annual review meeting is held during one of the regularly scheduled check-in meetings. If a person has more than one position with more than one supervisor, they should still only have one APR. The primary supervisor is responsible to gather input from the secondary supervisor and to complete the APR.  

Care and well-being.  This applies to staff and their families. SIL staff often work in difficult places and under stressful conditions. Being able to talk to someone is often what gives staff the hope and courage to persevere in challenging situations. HR has specific staff available to coach, counsel, debrief, consult with, offer team building, spiritual direction, family care, educational care, and more for staff. Supervisors aren't expected to be or do all of these things for their staff themselves, but they are the expected to know how their staff are doing due to their regular check-ins and be able to refer them to HR or others who can support them as needed.

Professional Development.  An important part of a staff person’s job satisfaction is the availability of development opportunities. Therefore the person’s personal and professional development goals need to be part of each APR. HR can support the supervisor and provide resources but a good place to start is here.

For more information see:

Managing and Leading People is information about various SIL courses that are available.

Helpful Organizational Links for SIL Leaders (all internal links)

SIL Core Statements

Global Plan Resources

Executive Director Information 

Planning, Monitoring and Learning 

Essential Information Update for SIL Leaders - Archive folder

Creating PRDs

In order to meet the organizational expectation of making sure staff have clearly defined job expectations, many OUs use PRDs (Position Results Descriptions). Supervisors are often tasked to work with their staff to create a PRD. Here are some resources to help.

The Difference Between a PRD and a Job Description

A job description outlines responsibilities of a given position and often identifies the knowledge and skills needed. It does not include performance standards. A Position Results Description clearly defines the responsibilities but also the results expected for successfully completing or performing the work.

The objective of a PRD is to provide a method for a supervisor and worker to:

With a PRD, developed together by the individual and supervisor, a person assumes the responsibility for the tasks involved and for achieving specified results (Performance Standards). Flexibility is allowed, for style and method in achieving the results.

Help for Creating PRDs:

Guidelines for Writing Position Results Descriptions 

How to write a PRD (General Management) - SIL e-course

PDR Planning Form

Template for PRDs

Folder of Sample PRDs

Leaders sometimes need to have difficult conversations. Here are some tips to help you navigate several different types of difficult conversations.

Training for Leaders

Leadership Pillars, Managing People, Managing Projects

Leadership Pillars / Information

Workplace Behavior

Leaders should create and promote a safe and healthy work environment where organizational behavior standards are upheld with integrity, consistency, and grace.

Healthy Workplace Behaviors

Wrongful Behavior

Bullying can take many forms, including jokes, teasing, nicknames, emails, pictures, text messages, social isolation or ignoring people, and unfair work practices. This behavior does not have to be repeated to be discrimination – it could be a one-time event.

Discrimination is an action or attitude of treating, or proposing to treat, someone unfavorably in the workplace because of a personal characteristic generally protected by the law, but clearly protected by the organization.

Harassment is any unwanted physical, verbal or nonverbal conduct directed to others that offends or humiliates another person, interferes with his or her ability to work, creates a hostile or offensive work environment or leads to adverse job-related consequences (for example, termination, lack of promotion, bad working hours, etc.

Sexual harassment is defined as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature … when … submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions … or such conduct has the purpose or effect of … creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.”

SIL International PolicyStaff Behavior Code of Conduct Agreement

Leadership Attitudes & Approaches to Wrongful Behavior 


Approach to wrongful behavior

Procedural Responses to Wrongful Behavior 

Immediate Procedural Response

Response to Potential Victim or Complainant

Ensuring Safety and Security

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Provided by SIL's People Strategies Global Team.