Supervising can be extremely rewarding but also challenging—there are varying personalities, communication styles, skill sets, and roadblocks to manage, all while trying to maintain high-quality output.
The good news is, there are development opportunities for supervisors that can help you succeed in your role. With the right tools and resources by your side, you will feel more confident in driving your team forward.
What Are the Key Responsibilities of a Supervisor?
Supervisors are the linchpin that keeps team members—key contributors of an organization—on track. They hold a vital role in managing and nurturing employees to thrive in their positions.
Here are some of the day-to-day and big-picture responsibilities supervisors oversee:
Provide training on processes and procedures to new and current team members
Coach and mentor team members to help them stay on track with their responsibilities and goals
Enforce organizational standards and legal requirements to foster a safe and healthy work environment
Work with upper management to finetune workflows for team members
What Skills Does a Supervisor Need?
These responsibilities require the right set of skills—soft and hard—for supervisors to successfully carry out their duties.
Communication: About 86 percent of employees and executives attribute workplace failure to a lack of communication. Supervisors can help fill this gap. By displaying impactful verbal and non-verbal communication skills, supervisors can inspire team members to emulate these behaviors and promote team-wide productivity.
Delegation: A large part of being a team leader requires delegation. To effectively delegate, supervisors must understand the skillsets team members possess and use this knowledge to assign the right projects to the right individuals.
Teamwork: Teamwork involves getting team members engaged and committed to one clear purpose that drives collaboration and morale. This may require supervisors to assess the strengths and weaknesses that exist within the team and strategize better ways to improve collaboration.
Though hard skills vary across organizations and industries, there are more common ones most supervisors must master. Here are a few examples of those hard skills:
Budget management: This involves understanding how funds will be utilized during the lifetime of a project. Once the budget is approved, supervisors monitor the budget against project timelines to ensure adherence to it. Budgeting involves math, financing, project management, and spreadsheet analysis.
Employment laws and policies: Supervisors must ensure team members comply with employment laws. This may include becoming knowledgeable on Equal Employment Opportunity (how it applies to employment decisions), timekeeping and pay issues (how to maintain accurate time records and handle unapproved overtime), and discrimination and harassment (how to prevent it and what to do when it happens).
12 Supervisor Resources & Tools
Sufficient training and development are not always available in the workplace. Fortunately, there are development opportunities for supervisors you can lean on.
To help you further your leadership skills and drive your team forward, explore these top 12 resources and tools for supervisors.
Supervisors will have access to the following tools to help bolster their learning and development experience:
Resource, application, and planning guides
2. ATD’s Supervisor Training Resources
The Association for Talent Development (ATD) offers two great resources for supervisors:
New Supervisor Training: Written by leadership expert Elaine Biech, the New Supervisor Training book offers one-day, two-day, and half-day training workshops that guide front-line managers to improve their supervisory skills in five areas:
Driving high emotional intelligence among remote managers
Driving engagement among your team
3. Reality-Based Leadership by Cy Wakeman
With 71 percent of employees thinking about leaving their jobs each day, supervisors play a critical role in nurturing a positive work environment.
In her book, Reality-Based Leadership, training expert Cy Wakeman discusses how workplace leaders can build a results-oriented culture driven by innovation and engagement—not drama. Wakeman uncovers how to:
Identify destructive thought patterns with yourself and others
Minimize drama among team members
Lead instead of manage
4. Soapbox’s New Manager Toolkit
One of the biggest challenges those in a management position face is balancing the responsibilities of their team members with their own. In cases like these, relying on the right software tools is imperative to boosting team efficiency.
This toolkit from Soapbox offers useful tools that can help you automate and expedite workflow processes on your team. The new manager toolkit specifically taps into the following areas:
Supervisors play a crucial role in safeguarding team members from legal violations. Kantola offers a specific training course on employment laws to help front-line managers feel better equipped to handle issues in the workplace.
Guided by employment law attorney Nancy Yaffe, this learning course intends to help new and experienced supervisors gain a better understanding of the:
Potential legal issues that can affect the workplace
Current employment laws (American with Disabilities Act, Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission, Family and Medical Leave Act, wages and hours, etc.)
Challenges social media can present in the workplace
7. MSU’s Supervisor Training Tools
Even if you are not in the education sector, Michigan State University offers resources that supervisors of all industries can learn and benefit from.
UC Davis provides several supervisor resources that their front-line managers use to oversee team members of all experience levels. Their comprehensive list of tools tap into the following 13 areas:
Compliance & Policy
Disability Management Services
Diversity & Inclusion
Posters Required by Law
The institution also offers a manager and supervisor toolkit. Though the tools are specifically tailored to UC Davis’ employment structure and policies, supervisors can use them to identify potential tools they need and then implement them into their own team.
9. Dartmouth Supervisory Tools
Dartmouth College offers a list of supervisor resources that include a variety of articles, videos, and courses from both internal and external sources.
Among the list include:
Learning course on project management and time management
Guide on how to be a great supervisor
Article on identifying unconscious bias
Guide on how to help a grieving employee
10. USDA’s Supervisor Resources
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides its own supervisor toolbox that focuses on onboarding new team members. As supervisors play a crucial role in the onboarding process, the USDA fleshes out a timeline (before the first day through the one-year mark) that lists specific action items supervisors should roll out.
The USDA also has a PDF resource guide supervisors can use to ensure they are on track with their onboarding process. Those outside of the food and manufacturing industry can still refer to these guides to put together an even more robust onboarding process.
11. SAMHSA Supervisor Training Resources
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides their supervisors with guidelines on how to oversee team members who may have professional or personal problems related to alcohol or other drugs.
Their training reviews the following key points:
How to recognize potential problems (attendance, appearance, behaviors, etc.)
How to approach an employee in a possible drug or alcohol crisis
How to respond to a workplace crisis
How to accurately document actions or behaviors that fail to meet workplace standards
How to identify and refer the right programs to team members
12. ACBO Training Institute’s Supervisor Training Manual
CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.
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