What skills does a supervisor need?

The skills a supervisor would need include; –

    • emotional intelligence
    • interpersonal skills
    • empathy
    • listening skills
    • effective communication skills
    • organisational ability
    • time management

  • risk management
  • decision making skills
  • problem solving skills
  • delegation skills
  • motivational skills
  • coaching and mentoring ability

It is worth linking back to this series of lesson to read about leadership, where we consider each of these skills in turn.
Leadership Lessons

They will also need some learned, rather than innate skills, such as carrying out formal performance management programmes, and giving feedback, another skill that is required is decision making, and we have covered that here.
Decision Making


A supervisor manages the performance of their team members, coaching them to enhance their skills and get the best from them. They will work with each of them to establish and achieve targets, goals, and action plans. The supervisor will then work with them to provide guidance and support to the team as they complete their action plans.

The supervisor should be aware of each of their teams’ career goals and objectives and endeavour to help them realise their goals

Development of Supervisors

This involves enhancing the abilities of trainee, new and existing supervisors to coordinate and manage the activities of their team, or their immediate subordinates. This is likely to include learning the basic skills of employee performance management, time management, how to manage meetings, conflict management, stress management and perhaps even the principles of project management.

The pure supervisory role

So although we have discussed that many roles contain an element of supervision, lets reflect for a moment on the role of the person who’s main responsibilities are to supervise a team.

This is usually in a role such as call centre supervisor, or leading a processing team, such as a team of people manufacturing a product which passes along a production line, where the team has to be hands on with a real-time task.

The supervisor has often come from the ranks of the processing team, and so is proficient in the work being undertaken.

The supervisor’ daily responsibilities will begin with checking everyone has arrived for work, and rebalancing the team if someone is missing. They will move up and down the production line, checking everyone is performing well, encouraging or correcting where necessary, making small adjustments here and there, and acting as first line quality control.

They will rebalance the team as the day goes on, ensuring quality and quantity targets are achieved.

They will motivate the team throughout the day, keep them up to date with management decisions and policies that have been announced, news, and possibly gossip!!

They act as friend, coach, mentor and manager to their team. It is key to each member of the team that they have a good relationship with their supervisor. The supervisor probably knows a little about their personal circumstances, family, problems and capabilities. They can help them to be effective in their own role, and should know each team members aspirations.

It is crucially important to management that this key team member is effective, and on message. The supervisor will attend management meetings, be involved in setting production targets, and report regularly on how their team are performing, providing explanations for any variation from agreed targets. They should be able to give advance warning of any significant variations in performance, and of problems that might develop.

They will plan rosters, agree holidays, manage changes in product or process, and be the bridge between management and the production workers.

The supervisor is literally all things to all people.