Supervisory Skills for Beginners

The skills required for the supervision of employees, volunteers, or students are all quite similar, and, as they are so essential to the success of any group or organization, they need to be identified and well mastered. It is a question of motivation. A supervisor must be able to draw the best work out of those being supervised, taking into account the kind of responsibility they have and whether or not they are being paid for their services. A supervisor must be accountable at the end of the day for the success or failure of the day's work.

Workers respond either positively or negatively to the way they are treated. Their respect must be earned if their best work is to be expected, but this can be achieved only when they themselves are shown a respectful attitude. An optimistic and cheerful approach will go a long way in motivating workers to do their best work, and if the supervisor can create a positive and non-threatening environment, success is far more likely.

Recognition of a job well-done is an important part of successful supervision. Some supervisors are quick to find fault when problems occur, but they neglect to praise employees who go beyond the call of duty to ensure that things are completed as required. This is a significant weakness that can lead to inefficiency. Furthermore, some workers, especially those who are newly appointed, need time to adjust to the work at hand, and the onus is upon the supervisor to show patience and understanding. Encouragement of new employees is a good investment in their future work.

Good supervisors will always be very clear about what must be achieved, and they identify both long-term and short-term goals. If workers know what is expected of them without ambiguity, they can pace themselves accordingly and achieve their objectives. It is important for them to have a clear time line as well, so that they can identify stages of progress along the way. Once supervisors have cleared objectives and procedures, most workers can be trusted to continue their day's work with very little supervision.

In a large organization with many employees, supervision can be more difficult as so many different objectives and long-term goals are involved. A well-trained supervisor will handle this through appropriate delegation. Many employees welcome the chance to accept some extra responsibility, and this recognition of their work and value to the organization is a powerful incentive to them. Delegation can be given in a number of ways, whether in the form of additional duties or as direct supervision of a specific area.

Supervisors are usually responsible for the management of all the resources available. A good supervisor will remember that human resources are the most valuable of all and must be used to the greatest extent possible. Regular meetings with staff are essential, because it is in this environment that employees have a chance to input some ideas of their own. The supervisor should welcome this and encourage brain-storming sessions that will not only benefit the organization, but will give workers a sense of job satisfaction that will enhance their work.

Some may feel that the right personality and character are all that one needs to be a successful supervisor. The fact is, however, that specific skills are required as well. Training is needed to understand supervisory skills and practice is needed to develop them. Potential supervisors must take their training seriously.

Information is for educational and informational purposes only and is not be interpreted as financial or legal advice. This does not represent a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any security. Please consult your financial advisor.