A strong team requires the expertise and guidance of a quality supervisor. But do you know how to judge what “quality” actually looks like at this level of leadership? Without a framework for evaluating a supervisor’s competence, it’s difficult to provide objective feedback and encourage improvement.
You can use our list of 15 essential supervisor core competencies to score your own leadership skills or those of leaders in your organization.
What Are the Core Competencies of a Supervisor?
1. Manages Conflict Resolution
Whether it’s a dispute between coworkers or entire departments, a good supervisor knows what they need to do to resolve conflict. Ideally, they’ll be able to produce a win-win outcome for the two parties. Not only will a supervisor know how to turn issues into resolutions, but she or he will also recognize when conflicts arise and may even be able to anticipate them before they reach a boiling point.
2. Leverages Diversity and Inclusiveness
These are the supervisors who recruit, develop, and retain a diverse, high-quality workforce. They ensure everyone in their workforce has an equal opportunity to develop their skills and abilities. Strong leaders see the value of diverse ideas in the workplace, which can help create unique solutions to complex problems.
3. Communicates Effectively
Supervisors who have good communication skills can express themselves clearly in oral and written communication. Those who are highly skilled communicators can persuade their clients or employees without being manipulative and ensure that the right information is shared with the right people in an orderly and timely manner.
4. Remains Flexible Under Pressure
Even when a supervisor is the most experienced employee on a team, they should encourage different and new ways of doing things. They can see the merit in the perspective of others and aren’t afraid to switch to a different strategy. Under pressure, they remain open to new approaches rather than being stubborn and sticking to their guns.
5. Fosters Continuous Improvement
Supervisors are always looking for ways to streamline processes and improve work quality. They promote the ongoing development of their staff by increasing educational opportunities and expanding job roles to better fit their team members’ individual strengths. Great supervisors also regularly self-evaluate, continuously looking for ways to become more effective in their own role.
6. Inspires Change
Along with continuous improvement, a good supervisor looks at the long-term goals of a team or company and identifies what needs to be done to achieve them. Expectations and initiatives may need to change to meet those goals. Supervisors should be able to recognize how these factors must flex and inspire their constituents to be open to alternatives and new ways of doing things.
7. Provides Motivational Support
Employees need the right motivation to complete quality work, and supervisors should be able to offer the right types of support. Good supervisors will do this by recognizing the achievements and contributions of their team members, thanking them directly, and finding creative ways to help make their jobs more rewarding.
8. Demonstrates Awareness of Interpersonal Cues
Interpersonal awareness is the ability to notice, interpret, and anticipate another person’s concerns and feelings. It’s also the ability to communicate this awareness to others.
Supervisors who have interpersonal awareness can usually tell how an employee is feeling from their tone of voice, expressions, and general nonverbal behavior. Supervisors can use this awareness to spark deeper and more meaningful conversations with their employees.
9. Builds Collaborative Relationships
Supervisors should not be micromanagers. They need to inspire collaborative relationships between themselves and their employees as well as in relationships where the supervisor isn’t directly involved.
These relationships are built on mutual respect. Respect only comes from gradually getting to know a person, learning about their experiences, and finding common ground on certain subjects.
10. Inspires Integrity and Honesty
To build strong relationships, supervisors should work to foster integrity and honesty among their team members. They should establish the expectation that everyone is accountable for their actions and needs to be completely transparent, no matter what the consequences may be. They set this expectation by communicating team ground rules clearly and leading by example.
11. Focuses on the Customer
Supervisors need to be incredibly caring, thoughtful individuals. Not only do they need to care about their team of employees, they also need to care about their customers. This care shows through in acts like ensuring their employees are achieving high levels of customer satisfaction and solving customer problems in a timely manner.
12. Thinks Analytically
Analytical thinking means tackling problems using a logical, systematic approach. Analytical thinkers will notice minute discrepancies and inconsistencies. They’ll be sure to weigh every variable behind a problem to find the best solution.
13. Relies on Technical Expertise
Ideally, a supervisor is already knowledgeable about the industry they work in. They can use this knowledge to educate their employees on certain subjects. Supervisors can also apply their advanced knowledge to approach problems from a different angle, potentially even revealing a new solution to a complex issue.
14. Thoroughly Plans Meetings and Procedures
Thorough supervisors carefully prepare all of their meetings, no matter how trivial, to ensure everything gets the time and attention it needs. These supervisors expect a similar level of diligence from their employees and will often set up procedures to promote high-quality work.
15. Acts Decisively
Being decisive doesn’t mean being stubborn. To the contrary, flexibility is an essential quality in a leader. Decisiveness has to do with being certain about a decision being made because all options have been weighed objectively and the supervisor feels confident about the final decision, even if it is a difficult one (such as reducing staff or closing a facility).
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