What Does a Supervisor Do? (Plus Top Skills and Responsibilities)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 7 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A supervisory role is the first leadership position you can enter in the corporate environment. As the name suggests, their primary responsibility is to supervise their team members and to ensure their projects get completed to a high standard. Learning about what does a supervisor do can help you develop your experience and skills to prepare for this rewarding career opportunity. In this article, we discuss what does a supervisor do, their key responsibilities, their average salary and the top skills supervisors possess with tips on improving them.

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What does a supervisor do?

A supervisor oversees other employees as they carry out their daily duties. Usually, they advise their team members on their approach to their work, motivate them to continue delivering quality work and encourage efficiency to increase overall productivity. You can think of a supervisor as the gatekeeper of a company's quality control standards for each individual team.

Most employers use them to communicate instructions from key business leaders at the top of the chain of command to those that sit towards the bottom. This way, they can use supervisors to ensure each employee is working towards a shared set of goals. In simpler terms, business leaders make the important decisions, while supervisors execute them by delegating work to the most competent professionals for the job.

Related: Management Skills: Definitions and Examples

Responsibilities of a supervisor

Supervisors need to manage several responsibilities efficiently so that they can oversee their team members while completing their own work projects. However, their specific tasks may vary depending on their employer's needs. The following is a summary of the common responsibilities of supervisors:

Manage their team's schedule and responsibilities

Most supervisors lead a team of two or more individuals. They delegate tasks depending on each individual's skills and check in to evaluate their progress regularly. As a result, they are responsible for the delivery of every project designated to their team. They must communicate with other managers and clients to negotiate attainable goals and deadlines based on their current workload.

Evaluate performance

Supervisors need to analyse their team's productivity to identify any needs for additional staffing, training or other resources. They may conduct regular performance reviews with individual team members to ensure they continue to uphold quality standards and continue to invest in their personal development. By evaluating their team's performance, they can keep each individual accountable and increase the efficiency of their team.

Report to senior management

A supervisor is the key contact person between senior management and their team. They report to their department head regularly to maintain the flow of information. This way, they can share any questions or concerns they may have with those in positions of authority. Through their reports, business leaders can determine the support that supervisors need and reevaluate their objectives so that they're more realistic.

Identify career advancement opportunities

As supervisors collaborate with their team, they get to know each individual member intimately. They gain a deep understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, and therefore, can identify gaps in their understanding. Supervisors may report their observations to human resources professionals so that they can create programmes to target training needs. This way, supervisors can promote a growth-oriented workplace.

Resolve disputes between employees

As different personalities work in close proximity to each other, conflicts between team members can arise. During a dispute, a supervisor's key role is to intervene, calm emotions down and find a solution that both parties can agree upon. Organisations can use supervisors to manage conflicts effectively. Their tactful approach can restore productivity and maintain a harmonious work environment.

Related: 18 Good Leadership Qualities for Career Success

Train new hires

When new hires join their team, supervisors need to make them feel welcome by introducing them to other team members and equipping them with the tools to perform their assigned duties more independently. Hands-on supervisors can make the employee onboarding process more cost-effective and efficient. They understand the importance of allowing a new hire to grow into a new role without resorting to micromanaging their actions.

Average salary of a supervisor

Although supervisors are in a leadership position, they typically don't earn as much as department heads and c-suite executives. However, if you get promoted into this role, you can expect a pay raise, as there's a significant amount of responsibility that comes along with this job title. Most supervisors have at least five years of work experience in their chosen profession, therefore you can negotiate a salary package that reflects your skills and knowledge.

The average salary of a supervisor is $17,987 per month. However, this statistic can vary depending on your industry, job demands and employer. Supervisors who have more experience, or those that have specific qualifications and certifications, can command a higher salary. Typically, employers may be willing to pay more to job candidates who demonstrate superior leadership skills, express passion for their role as a leader and can multitask between their many duties competently.

Top skills for a supervisor

Supervisors need to employ a variety of skills to cope with their multiple responsibilities. This way, employers can rely on them to manage themselves and other professionals. If you hope to enter a supervisory role, working on your soft skills can help you manage your workload stress-free. Here are some of the top skills for a successful supervisor:

Communication skills

Supervisors often need to give clear instructions to their coworkers. Employing excellent communication skills, such as summarising notes and expressing empathy, can help you reduce misunderstandings in the workplace. Encouraging communication within your team can also create a more positive and supportive company culture.

Attentive listening skills

It's important for supervisors to digest the communication they participate in, as this can help them pick up on valuable information. Listening attentively to your coworkers can help you identify their true feelings about a subject. This act also conveys empathy, a behaviour that encourages others to be more open and honest with you.

Teamwork skills

While supervisors lead a team, they also need to use their teamwork skills to act as a key player within their team. It's often not enough for supervisors to delegate tasks to others, but it's also important that they share responsibility and be accountable for their own actions. This can help their team to feel like a valuable part of the organisation.

Leadership skills

Successful supervisors lead by example. They inspire their coworkers with their own work ethic and motivate them with their own optimistic attitude. Strong leaders aren't afraid to admit to their mistakes and can count on the expertise of others when they lack the knowledge needed to make an effective decision.

Emotional intelligence

When making tough decisions, supervisors can put their emotions aside. During an especially challenging situation, they act as a pillar for their team, keeping themselves calm so that their team members can continue to give their best effort. Supervisors with a high degree of emotional intelligence can multitask seamlessly, without feeling extremely overwhelmed.

Related: 10 Leadership Skills To Highlight In Your Resume

Tips to improve your supervisor skills

Educating yourself about how to improve your skills as a leader in the workplace can help you succeed in this position of great responsibility. Modelling your desire to improve your skills to your colleagues can encourage them to trust your capability as a decision-maker. Here are a few tips to help you improve your supervisor skills:

Show support towards your team

As a leader, it's important to model interpersonal skills, such as empathy, support and kindness, to your coworkers, so that they feel encouraged to treat others the same way. Simple acts of support, such as approaching colleagues who appear stressed, can put you in the habit of being a caring supervisor. The more you cater to your team's emotional needs, the more it reflects in their work ethic.

Take responsibility for your team

Supervisors that are secure in their management style avoid blaming others for mistakes and hold themselves accountable. Acting with integrity in the workplace can help you create an open and safe work environment where people can express their opinions freely. If you create this sense of accountability, it's more likely that you also gain respect and trust from your team.

Provide consistent feedback

Positive feedback is essential for team performance and employee satisfaction. Practice delivering helpful, constructive reviews that benefit employees and the company. This way, you can create standardised expectations and continue to motivate your coworkers to invest in their personal development goals. In turn, be open to accepting constructive feedback so you can work on improving.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.