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.
Key soft skills include:
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.
Conflict resolution: Conflict is inevitable among teams—85 percent of employees experience it at work. But with the right conflict resolution skills and tools, supervisors can help team members resolve differences in a collaborative manner.
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.
CMOE’s Supervisor Development Series
CMOE’s Supervisor Development Series consists of multiple, self-paced, digital learning courses that offer supervisors the opportunity to elevate their leadership skills.
It covers eight competency areas (these courses may also be purchased individually):
- Role of the Supervisor
- Building Trust
- Managing Differences
- Handling Pressure
- Delegation & Accountability
Supervisors will have access to the following tools to help bolster their learning and development experience:
- Resource, application, and planning guides
- Learning plans
- Knowledge checks
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:
- Promoting communication
- Guiding the work
- Leading the workforce
- Coaching employee performance
- Developing themselves
- Webinar: Making the Most of Limited Resources to Drive the Most Impact: This hour-long webinar discusses how supervisors can adequately manage their responsibilities during times when resources are limited (short-staffed, short on budget and time, etc.). Some of the key areas the webinar covers are:
- How to stay engaged with training opportunities
- 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:
- People management
- Project management
- Personal productivity
- Communication & conferencing
- Health and wellness
5. SHRM’s People Manager Resources
The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) provides a library of insightful articles and tools on people management. From managing workplace stress to handling a pay increase request, SHRM offers several helpful resources supervisors can use to navigate their roles.
Here are some good resources to get you started:
- How to Douse Chronic Workplace Stress Before It Explodes into Full Burnout
- What Is the Best Way to Handle an Employee’s Request for a Pay Increase?
- You’re a Brand-New Manager. Now What?
- What Are Some Tips for Screening Résumés?
- How to Stop Making Employee Exits Uncomfortable
6. Kantola’s Employment Laws Learning Course
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.
MSU’s tips and tools for supervisors include resources in each of the following categories:
- Performance planning meeting (identifying weaknesses that need to be developed further, setting up SMART goals, mapping out a professional development plan, etc.)
- Feedback, coaching, and development (coaching tips that help guide and strengthen behaviors, conversation starters, etc.)
- Annual performance review (instructions, managing reactions, preparation tips, etc.)
8. UC Davis’ Supervisor Resources
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
- Flexible Work
- Layoff Information
- Onboarding Toolkit
- Performance Management
- Personnel Records
- Posters Required by Law
- Talent Acquisition
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
The Association of Chief Business Officials’ (ACBO) training discusses the following areas:
- What being an effective supervisor means
- Workplace communication best practices
- Managing conflict
- Employee discipline (warnings, suspensions, demotion, terminations)
- Performance evaluations (how to evaluate and pitfalls to avoid)
Their training also includes various example scenarios supervisors may use to practice and develop their people management skills.