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Top 5 Effective Supervisory Skills & Abilities - HRDQ

Top 5 Effective Supervisory Skills & Abilities

Supervisor skills can be learned with training

Front-line leaders are proving to have the most influence on the overall success of an organization. But what makes a good supervisor?

Supervisors today find themselves in a unique position. They are charged with creating an environment in which their employees can achieve superior performance, yet they often have minimal control over that environment. They have to be in charge of all of the work from start to finish, and they are held responsible if goals are not met. Being a supervisor is challenging, but with certain skills it can be easier and more fulfilling.

An era of increasing government regulation, sophisticated technology, movement toward cross-functional teams, and diverse, entitled, and better-educated employees has turned the role of supervisor upside down. The skills required to operate effectively in such an environment differ substantially from those exercised in an environment in which the supervisor had complete control over his or her work group and their work environment.

HRDQ's experience and research have revealed that certain identifiable and definable skills, when learned, make supervisors more effective. Below are five key skills.

Guiding the Work

Supervisors need to take the direction of the organization and translate it into actionable plans for the work group. The supervisor’s view of work must be broader than that of his or her employees. Being an effective supervisor means understanding the bigger picture, which includes the goals of the organization. Supervisors should clearly communicate and espouse the company values, while simultaneously creating a challenging and satisfying work.

Organizing the Work

Supervisors assign the right people to the right tasks and provide necessary resources to meet work goals. Shifting organizational and personal priorities necessitate almost constant reorganization of work. The supervisor, with responsibilities to the organization, must consider the impact on the bottom line. Equally important is for the supervisor to take into account the demands placed on the employees. The supervisor must keep the needs of his or her direct reports in mind while organizing the work. To be most effective and maximize employee engagement, the supervisor is encouraged to understand what motivates his or her employees, be sensitive to their needs, and actively listen and seek their feedback.

Developing Direct Reports

Supervisors know and actively work to increase the skill level of each employee being supervised. The important component of developing direct reports is gaining knowledge of employees as individuals. Each employee has his or her own skills, abilities, needs, and personality. A supervisor who is aware of the unique features of each person in the work group will be best equipped to help them meet their potential. Investing in an employee’s development takes commitment, trust, a well-defined objective, clearly established action plans, and follow-through by both the supervisor and employee. Delegating work to employees builds the skill base of the organization and frees the supervisor to develop his or her own skills.

Managing Performance

Supervisors should remove the obstacles to better performance so employees can meet their own and the organization’s objectives. The obstacles to employee performance can be found both within the employee and in the work environment. An effective supervisor is mindful of and manages obstacles in both areas. A large part of managing performance involves the continual coaching of direct reports to achieve their potential. Coaching begins with looking to the future and deciding what level of performance can reasonably be expected of an employee. Beyond teaching employees how to perform, the supervisor should strive to instill in them the self-confidence in their ability to perform.

Managing Relations

Supervisors should develop and maintain good relationships with other groups so that the supervisor’s employees and the organization meet their goals. Managing relations should be guided by the goals of the organization. Taking an organizational perspective in dealings with one another puts the supervisor and the other groups on common ground, providing a reasonable basis for decision making. When it comes to interfacing with these groups, real cooperation is not a matter of getting along well; it’s taking into account the constraints and goals of others.

Assess & Improve Supervisor Skills

Supervisors are the vital link between your organization and its work groups. Learn more about how supervisor skills can work for your team with Supervisory Skills Questionnaire.



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About our author

Bradford R. Glaser

Brad is President and CEO of HRDQ, a publisher of soft-skills learning solutions, and HRDQ-U, an online community for learning professionals hosting webinars, workshops, and podcasts. His 35+ years of experience in adult learning and development have fostered his passion for improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals.