Are You the Tyrant or the Mother Teresa of Management: What Makes a Good Supervisor?


What do you think of when you picture a good leader? Do you picture William Wallace in the movie Braveheart, rallying the troops to charge against the English? Maybe, you picture Gordon Bombay delivering a rousing speech and met with the chanting of “quack, quack, quack!” from The Mighty Ducks.

Though you may not be leading an army to victory or a sports team to a championship, you can learn how to be an effective leader wherever you work. Do you want to know what makes a good supervisor?

We’ve put together this guide to help you learn the qualities of a good supervisor. Read on to learn how to be the kind of person your employees want to follow!

1. They Are a Good Example

A good supervisor knows that they must lead by example. They should not leave employees feeling slighted by holding them to a standard that they themselves are not following. A good leader should see themselves as part of the team, not above it.

While delegation is part of leadership, a good supervisor knows that they need to get involved. They need to get their hands dirty. Spending time and effort “in the trenches” with employees breeds trust.

Getting involved gives a supervisor the opportunity to more easily teach employees through their actions in addition to their words.

2. They Have Good Communication Skills

Employees need to know what your expectations are for them and for their work. A good supervisor will communicate their expectations well. They will set clear deadlines and project specifications so that employees feel empowered to excel at their work rather than lost at where to begin.

A good supervisor should be accessible. Employees will often have questions, and a good supervisor knows that they are invaluable. Make sure that employees feel comfortable approaching you.

Being able to get your points across clearly is important, but just as important is the ability to listen well. Asking clarifying questions and being available to help employees problem solve will help them feel valued and that you are on their side.

A good leader is accessible so that when employees do encounter a problem, they don’t feel abandoned and unsupported. Effective communication among management is a huge contributing factor to employee job satisfaction and retention.

3. They Are Employee Focused

A British study determined that managers were only able to work for a half an hour uninterrupted once every two days! That may seem crazy, but it’s because though managers often have other responsibilities, their first responsibility is the people they are managing.

A good supervisor understands that even though they may have other stressors and things on their plate, their employees come first. The privilege of being able to delegate some of those responsibilities comes at the price of being flexible and making time for employee’s concerns.

This also means that a good supervisor notices not only when something goes wrong, but when employees are succeeding. They make sure to encourage and instruct when an employee fails, and praise and reinforce when an employee succeeds.

Employees need to feel that their work matters and that they will be recognized for doing their jobs well. You can do this through incentives and benefits rewards, but don’t forget the value of simple compliments and verbal acknowledgment.

4. They Give Constructive Criticism

The role of a supervisor is to support the employees, but also to make sure the job is done right. A good supervisor will strike a careful balance between holding the project goal in high importance and considering the feelings of the employees.

When an employee makes a mistake, it is rarely productive to come down hard on them. If a supervisor reacts to an employee mistake by getting mad or yelling, that will only serve to demoralize the employee. It may even send them looking for new employment.

A good supervisor will encourage an employee to grow. They will praise that employee’s strengths, and point out their weaknesses in a compassionate and instructional manner.

Rather than simply pointing out what is wrong, they will suggest alternatives and ways to improve. They will not expect overnight change and will be patient with the employee, desiring them to grow and support them on their path to growth.

5. They Are Adaptable

Often a supervisor will be the person who has the bird’s-eye view of a project or department. They have the position to have a perspective that a single employee may not be able to. Because of this perspective, the supervisor may need to fill a different role on a day-to-day basis to help fill those unseen gaps until new policies or additional staff can correct them.

They also know that each employee is a person with their own unique desires, motivations, learning and communication style, and temperament. A good supervisor doesn’t take a “one-size-fits-all” approach to all of their employees. They seek to understand and build a relationship with each member of their team, playing to their individual strengths and helping cover their weaknesses.

What Makes a Good Supervisor Even Better?

Sometimes the best way to become a better supervisor is to learn from other supervisors and people who have more experience in leading people. If you are looking to grow your leadership skills, or the skills of the supervisors in your company consider hiring an executive coaching service.

They provide quality instruction and training to help your management team be the best that it can be!

Oh Captain, My Captain!

A good supervisor will earn the respect and loyalty of their employees. Your employees will value you because they know you value them, and their work will show it!

Now that you know what makes a good supervisor, you just need to apply it! If you want your employees to be productive, show them that you are on their team. We know you’ll do great if you just keep the tips we shared in mind!

If you liked this article, you should check out some of our other business-related content!


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