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How to be a Good Supervisor? 10 Expert Tips

Company Culture
September 9, 2021
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Becoming a leader is more than just the title. There are many aspects of what makes a good supervisor aside from delegating tasks and managing targets. We’re going to dive in and show you what it means to be a leader and how to be a good supervisor.

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What do Supervisors Do?

If you’re thinking about becoming a supervisor, it’s important to understand their role within a company. A supervisor overlooks and manages the workflow of their team members, making sure everything flows smoothly. 

They also provide constructive feedback to their team to ensure employees are completing tasks effectively and on time. Supervisors handle terminations, organizing shifts, training, and holidays. In other words, their role is fundamental for the organization and the daily flow of the team. 

What is the Difference Between a Supervisor and a Manager?

Good question - we have the answer. While we tend to think that supervisors and managers have the same role, in most offices, they don’t. Supervisors oversee a team of people who perform the same role - they focus mainly on day-to-day operations. Managers are more focused on dealing with employees and company’s goals. 

While these roles are different, they have one main thing in common: leadership. Both are leadership positions that require overseeing employees within a company. 

What are the Different Ways to be a Good Supervisor?

Of course, there are different ways to be a good supervisor. Reflect on your own experiences, and you’ll notice many of your previous supervisors had different approaches when overseeing their teams. To be a good supervisor, you need to understand your company’s management structure and select a supervisory style that suits your work environment and is comfortable for you. 

In general, what makes a good supervisor is the ability to understand your leadership style, the company values, and the industry you’re in. This method is called situational leadership, where leaders change their leadership methods based on the industry and company culture they’re working in.

How To Be a Good Supervisor?

You probably remember your favorite and least favorite supervisors. What was different between them? If you want to be memorable for your outstanding leadership, here are some tips on how to be a good supervisor. 

1. Know Your Employees

A good supervisor knows their team. They know the needs of their employees and work to solve problems their team may be experiencing. This includes improving their team’s mental health and wellbeing. 

An employee wellbeing platform uses data-driven information and engagement to frequently measure your team’s wellbeing and provide you with preventative methods to improve workplace culture and wellbeing. 

This means you don’t have to react to problems, and you can measure the wellbeing of different teams in real time. Inturn, this reduces absenteeism, maintains employee motivation and reduces costs of staff turnover.

2. Treat Your Employees as People

At the end of the day, we’re all human. Meaning, your employees have their good days and bad days, just like you. What makes a good supervisor is someone who treats others how they wish to be treated. If you want to know how to be a good supervisor, start by treating your team with respect, empath, honesty, and fairness. Those simple qualities can take you a long way with your team. 

3. Believe In Yourself as a Leader

If you don’t believe in yourself, how can your team believe in you as a leader? If you look unconfident and uncertain in front of your team, you can drop team morale and decrease productivity. It’s important to understand that not every decision you make will end up positively, but this is a part of the learning process. Regardless, remain confident in yourself through the good and bad. Remember that showing vulnerability and making mistakes can actually be positive for the team to see you are human too.

4. Listen & Communicate Well

A good supervisor has both strong written and verbal communication skills. Employees feel comfortable communicating with their supervisor, and they understand the given tasks clearly. More importantly, employees feel they can effectively communicate with their supervisor. 

If employees struggle with communicating with you and their needs go unmet, they’ll simply find another job. Hence, why an employee wellbeing platform can help you unlock the causes of stress, anxiety and poor performance and provide employees a more comfortable environment to communicate and reduce staff turnover.

5. Feedback

Your team needs frequent constructive feedback. People want to be praised for their efforts and want to know what areas they can improve on. But when learning how to be a good supervisor, how you give constructive feedback matters. Your goal isn’t to break down your employees, it’s to raise them up.

6. Strong Organisation Skills

Since you’re overseeing a team of people, you need to stay organized. If you want to know how to be a good supervisor, organizational skills are a must. Stay ahead of the game by knowing when deadlines are and make sure employees aren’t overwhelmed with tasks. A strong supervisor will always be thinking one step ahead of their team. 

7. Be Approachable

As a supervisor, your role is to oversee your team and problem solve. This means you must be approachable. Your team needs to feel comfortable enough to come to you with their issues and trust that you’ll be able to provide a solution. A good team is one with a strong and approachable leader. 

8. Show Empathy

Showing empathy as a leader can feel like a slippery slope, which is why many leaders stay away from it. They fear looking like a pushover. However, you can still show empathy while in a leadership position. Being honest and actively listening to your employees can help you make fair decisions for your team. Studies show by showing empathy, employees feel respected, safe, and heard. As a result, you address team issues and increase employee motivation and wellbeing. 

9. Be Adaptable

Not everything is going to go how you planned - which means you need to be able to adapt to the changes quickly. Whether the deadline changed on a project or industry trends shifted, accept change and flow with it.

10. Lead by Example

What makes a good supervisor is someone who not only talks the talk but walks the walk. They stand by the company’s values, and model the behaviors they expect their employees to exhibit. A good leader is one who willingly leads by example. 

By Ami Hirschi from Unsplash


What do Good Supervisors Need to Know?

As a supervisor, there are things you’re going to learn while in your new role. However, it’s important to know the potential challenges that are ahead. 

1. Be Comfortable Delegating

As a new supervisor, it may feel weird delegating tasks to others. However, it’s something you’ll need to get acquainted with as it’s the main task in your role. Don’t be afraid of delegating tasks, see it as a crucial part of your job.

2. Supervising is Hard Work

Supervising isn’t going to be a walk in the park. When learning how to be a good supervisor, understand that you’ll face many challenges. However, see it as a part of the learning process. 

3. Make Sure You Look Out for Employees

Supervising is more than just delegating tasks. As a leader, you have the responsibility of looking out for your team; this includes their mental health and wellbeing. For example, if you know your employee weaknesses and strengths, provide them with the right balance of tasks and don’t overwhelm them with challenges. 

With employee wellbeing tools, you can analyze the wellbeing of your team and take preventative measures to maintain employee motivation. This will also help increase productivity and reduce expenditures. 

4. Don't be Everyone’s Friend

It may feel uncomfortable to be a leader among your peers, so as a result, you may want to be friends with everyone. But you’re not going to be everyone’s friend. While you should be friendly, remember your role isn’t to please everyone. 

5. You Don't Know Everything

You’re not going to know everything, nor will you. As a supervisor, you’ll be learning new things every day. Some things will come easy, others will be challenging. But we all have our personality strengths and weaknesses, which is something an employee wellbeing platform can help you identify. If you don’t know something, that’s okay. Ask your manager or fellow colleague to help you. 

6. Acknowledge Others

What makes a good supervisor is their ability to treat everyone with respect. Just because you have a higher position than your team members, it doesn’t mean you’re better than them. Take time to talk to your team and build personal relationships with them. 

How to Lead by Example as a Good Supervisor?

Your employees need a leader who will motivate them. Here are six supervisory skills to help you lead by example. 

  • Inspire: Be an inspiration for your employees and set the right example for them. This will inspire them to work efficiently and contribute to the company. 
  • Motivate: If there’s a lack of motivation, it will push deadlines, increase overhead costs, and reduce company morale. 
  • Acknowledge failure: You’re going to make mistakes; everyones does. While no one likes to fail, it’s an opportunity for you to acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them. 
  • Listen: listening is an important leadership skill to have. Listening to your team could help your product or service shift onto a better, more innovative path. As a supervisor, take the time to listen. 
  • Show compassion: being compassionate with your team is a quality every supervisor should show. Employees are people, just like you, and they have their issues, both work-related and personal. 

How to Improve Your Skills as a Supervisor?

Here are five important methods to help you develop trust and improve your supervisory skills.

  • Be reliable: As a supervisor, be someone your team can turn to when they need help or guidance. 
  • Give trust to receive trust: For your team to trust you, you need to show that you trust them. By trusting your employees, you will boost employee motivation and increase productivity. If you struggle with motivating your employees, an employee wellbeing platform will provide you with the right tools.
  • Give credit when deserved: When your team or an individual completes a task, give them the credit they deserve for their accomplishments. Praise them. 
  • Share information: Employees want to be able to share information with you. As a supervisor, focus on creating transparency within your team and making it easy for them to communicate and share with you. 
  • Have an open-door policy: You may have a higher position than them, but be humble. Have an open-door policy to show your employees can come to you whenever they need. 

What are the Pitfalls to Avoid as a Supervisor?

When learning how to be a good supervisor, it’s important to know the common mistakes you should avoid.

  • Poor planning: as a supervisor, your job is to ensure your team sticks to deadlines and stays on schedule. You should create a clear plan with timelines, objectives and goals. Make sure it is fully communicated with your team and visible for them to refer to at any time. 
  • Being too friendly: Should you be friendly and approachable? Yes. But there’s a line, and as a supervisor, you need to remind yourself that you’re in a leadership position. Healthy boundaries means you are their leader first, not their friend first. Your goal is to achieve the companies objectives. If it means saying an uncomfortable message or setting tough targets, then that is what you need to do. 
  • Not giving your employees enough work: while you shouldn’t overwhelm your staff, you don’t want to underwhelm them either. Make sure you evenly distribute work to your team members. A lack of work decreases motivation and productivity. 
  • Bringing on the wrong people: there will be occasions where you’ll need to hire more people. However, don’t let the pressure push you into making poor decisions. Give yourself time to make sure you bring on the right people into your team. It's a costly and time consuming having to onboard employees so make sure the ones you bring in can fulfil the role and stay in the role for some time.

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