Supervisors: What Good Are They?

By Candace Fisher, SPHR, Director, Organizational Development/Certified Coach
Published February 5, 2019

supervisor wordleAre your supervisors good at what they do? Before you answer that question, you need to consider what they do – or what they should be doing. Supervisors have responsibilities to your organization, to management, to their peers, to their team, and to themselves.

As part of your management team, supervisors are responsible to help your organization succeed. They need to keep the interests of the organization in mind as they complete their day-to-day tasks and accomplish their objectives. As representatives of management, they speak and act on behalf of your organization every day.

Front-line supervisors act as a liaison between their team and upper management. Their role is to communicate the needs and carry out the directions of management. When communicating those directions, it is their responsibility to support organizational initiatives to their team – even though they may not agree with them. Equally, they should communicate the needs and concerns of their team upward in the organization. When concerns and questions arise, they may not always have the answers, but it is the supervisor’s job to find the answers.

Your supervisors are key to the interactions and functioning of your organization as a cohesive team. They work with various departments and set the example for employees to avoid the “us vs. them” dilemma. Cooperation, collaboration, and trust among this supervisory peer group is essential to the morale of your employees and the success of your organization.  

Of course, supervisors have a huge responsibility to their team. If they were promoted from within the ranks, it may be especially difficult for them to remember that they’re no longer in that “worker bee” role. They can (and should) be friendly with the employees, but it is very difficult and can affect their results, and even damage their reputation, if they try to be friends with employees. Favoritism or accusations of favoritism may result. Supervisors are key to the coaching and development of employees, as well as to correcting performance and behavioral gaps or problems. They look out for the safety and well-being of their group and are instrumental in the motivation and engagement of employees.

Supervisors have responsibilities to themselves as well. Like all employees at any level of the organization, they need to continue to change, learn, grow, and develop as the needs of the organization change.  Again, like all employees, they need to maintain a healthy work-life balance.  It is imperative that each individual stay on top of physical and mental health needs (including adequate rest and time away from work) to maintain peak job performance levels.

How many of your supervisors are ready to assume and succeed at these responsibilities when they take the job?  How many are even aware of the scope of responsibilities they’ll have? Whose responsibility is it to be sure that they’re ready and know how to achieve in all of these areas?  Yes, the individual is responsible to grow and learn, but it’s the organization’s – senior management’s and Human Resource’s – responsibility to ensure that necessary training is provided. Is your organization setting up your supervisors to succeed?

HR Source can help you prepare and develop the leaders of your organization. We offer various training programs at our location such as Instant Impact: Supervisory Fundamentals, Legal Issues for Supervisors, and Evolving Manager Bootcamp. Visit our Training Calendar to learn more and to register for these and other development opportunities. Of course, all our training and development offerings can also be brought onsite to your organization. Contact one of our organizational development professionals at (800) 448-4584 for more information.

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