What Are the Responsibilities of a Supervisor?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated December 2, 2022

Published July 26, 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.

The natural progression in many jobs is to become a supervisor after a few years of experience in your industry. A supervisor oversees a team and encourages them to work effectively and succeed. If you're considering becoming a supervisor, knowing more about the role can help you prepare. In this article, we look at what the responsibilities of a supervisor are, what it takes to become one, what to expect in an interview for the role and explain how you can succeed as a supervisor.

What is a supervisor?

A supervisor is a liaison between the members of a team, shift, or department and upper management. The supervisor must oversee the day-to-day performance of these employees. Supervisors must have excellent communication skills to transfer information from upper management to employees. Supervisors are usually required to have good communication skills and interpersonal skills to help motivate their team without overworking them.

Related: Manager vs. Supervisor: Key Differences and Duties

What are the responsibilities of a supervisor in the workplace?

Supervisors have different roles depending on their place of work. Here are some of the general responsibilities of a supervisor:

Managing workflow

A supervisor's main responsibility is to manage a team's workflow. They do so by clearly defining daily, weekly, monthly, and annual goals so their team members know what priorities to work towards. It's also the responsibility of a supervisor to make sure deadlines are communicated clearly, and that their team completes the work on time. As a further part of their role, supervisors will monitor their team's performance to correct or complement it accordingly.

Training new hires

Supervisors must train new employees and ensure they feel welcome on their team. To do this, they often lead an orientation that explores the new hire's role, the company's policies, and the workplace. Depending on the new employee's job, the supervisor may complete all the training themselves or pair them with another employee to teach and guide them.

Related: How To Train Employees More Effectively (With Tips)

Creating and managing team schedules

Some companies have set hours for all their employees, but others have team members that work in shifts. If this is the case, supervisors usually need to make team schedules. They must consider numerous factors to do this, such as each team member's availability and the number of employees they need at different times. Supervisors need to be flexible and have strong problem-solving skills to handle changes for sick calls, emergencies, or time-off requests.

Reporting to HR and senior management

As supervisors are a liaison between team members and upper management, they must frequently report their team's performance. Supervisors must know their team members well to discuss their performance, professionalism, adherence to policies, and punctuality with upper management. In turn, they must report any news, instructions, or updates back to their team.

Evaluating performance and providing feedback

The responsibilities of a supervisor include providing regular feedback to team members about their performance. Providing positive feedback is a great way to motivate team members and encourage them to reach their goals. Constructive feedback also helps employees learn about areas they can improve in.

There are multiple ways for supervisors to structure the way they give feedback. One option is to develop employee feedback and recognition programs so team members know when to expect it. An alternative is to focus on giving regular feedback, as it can be as simple as telling a team member they did well on a project.

Related:

  • Feedback Examples and Why It’s Important (Plus Tips)

  • A Guide to Constructive Criticism with Tips and Examples

Identifying and applying career advancement opportunities

Supervisors may not have the authority to promote employees themselves, but they can recommend team members they think would be a good fit for promotions. As they work closely with their team, they know who has the necessary experience and skills to succeed in a new role.

Helping employees resolve issues and disputes

Supervisors must have excellent conflict resolution skills to help employees resolve any issues or disputes that arise. While they should encourage their team to work through minor conflicts together, they may need a mediator. If the problem or dispute is major, such as a policy violation, the supervisor must report it to upper management or HR for an investigation.

Related: How to Resolve Conflict in the Workplace (With Strategies)

How can I take on the responsibilities of a supervisor?

Many supervisors get their position by working with the company for a few years and receiving a promotion. You can apply for external supervisor roles as well, but you typically need prior leadership experience. If you're interested in taking on the responsibilities of a supervisor, the following skills and attributes will help you succeed:

  • Excellent communication skills

  • Confidence to lead your team

  • Prior experience in the industry

  • Ability to remain calm under pressure

  • Extensive knowledge of company policies

  • Strong work ethic

  • Good time management skills

  • Organizational abilities

  • Ability to motivate people

Related: 12 Skills for Effective Supervisors

What should I expect from a supervisor interview?

Even if you're applying for internal supervisor roles, you will need to interview for the position. To help you prepare and succeed in your interview, be sure you understand the specific duties and responsibilities of the supervisor role you're applying for. It's also helpful to search for common and role-specific questions interviewers may ask you. Preparing potential answers beforehand can help you feel more confident. Here are some common supervisor interview questions and sample answers to help you prepare:

How would you describe your management style?

"I would describe my management style as coaching rather than managing. I build a strong bond with my team members to show my respect for them. If they feel valued and heard, they are more engaged and willing to work towards our common goals. I coach them to succeed and praise them when they do."

If a team member was underperforming, what would you do?

"I would schedule a private meeting with them to discuss their performance. They could be struggling with their workload or with personal issues. Whatever the case, I would work with them to come up with a solution, such as extra training or time off to handle any personal matters. Then, I would monitor their performance for a few weeks. If they continued to underperform, I might consider a verbal or written warning."

What makes you a better supervisor than other candidates?

"I am an excellent candidate for the responsibilities of a supervisor because I have prior leadership experience and have worked in this industry for five years already. My prior experience has taught me how to lead and motivate a team successfully which I would love to do here."

How do you motivate your team members?

"To motivate my team, I always try to work closely with them. This shows them that I am not above doing the same work and that I want to help them succeed. I am also very clear about goals and deadlines, so my team knows what they're working towards. Giving positive feedback often, even if it's something as small as saying good job, motivates my team members."

What would you do if two employees had a conflict?

"I always encourage my team to try to resolve their conflict independently. If they can, it helps them build stronger relationships and good problem-solving skills. If they can't, I step in and act as a mediator. I hear both sides of the story and work with them to create a solution that benefits both parties."

Related: 10 Interview Questions for Supervisors

How can I perform the responsibilities of a supervisor well?

Before you become a supervisor, it's important to learn how to succeed in the role. Here are some tips that can help you improve your leadership skills and become a more successful supervisor:

1. Always support your team

Supporting your team is important as it shows you care about them and their success. It's a great way to motivate employees and create a positive work environment. You can show support through positive feedback, making yourself available, and listening to your team members.

2. Assist employees with career advancement

Most employees want to work toward promotions to advance their careers. Get to know your team and their professional goals. This will help you encourage them and find ways to help them reach their goals.

3. Hold yourself accountable

A supervisor's primary responsibility is to manage their team's workflow. So, if they make any mistakes, you should hold yourself accountable. Try to spot issues and resolve them before they negatively affect your team's results. If you can't, take responsibility for the errors and learn from them to avoid them in the future.

4. Create a positive team culture

Creating a positive work environment can improve your team's mood and work ethic. One great way to do this is to create an open-door policy that allows employees to discuss their feelings and opinions in a safe space. Your team will look to you for guidance, so keep a positive attitude to encourage them to do the same.

Read more: What Is Workplace Culture? (With Definition and Tips)

5. Provide consistent feedback

Positive and constructive feedback is a great way to improve team performance and satisfaction. It shows your team you care about their progress and want to help them improve. Try to include any negative feedback you give to your team members with additional positive feedback to keep employees motivated.

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