In every industry, effective supervision can make all the difference in the performance of teams and organizations alike. Studies have found that effective supervision can have a direct impact on everything from staff well-being and job satisfaction to retention and worker outcomes.

Of course, not all supervisors achieve the same results. Some are more effective than others, while others may miss the mark completely. Even if you've gone through supervisor training programs and other formal education, there are some strategies and best practices you can focus on to maximize your effectiveness and lead your teams to success.

The Role of a Supervisor

The roles and duties of a supervisor can vary greatly depending on many factors, including the size of your team, the company you work for, and your industry. Still, there are some general supervisor responsibilities that you can expect when you take on this challenging yet rewarding role.

As a supervisor, you are expected to demonstrate strong leadership qualities, ensuring your team can do their jobs properly. This may include providing training, managing the overall workflow of the team, assigning individual tasks, and evaluating employee performance. Depending on the scope of your role, you may also be responsible for handling disputes and conflicts among team members while building trust in the workplace.

The job of a supervisor can be challenging and it requires ongoing support from leadership. Still, there are some proactive measures all supervisors can take to maximize their effectiveness.

Tip 1: Develop Strong Communication Skills

Strong communication skills are an absolute must for any supervisor, including the ability to communicate effectively in a face-to-face setting in addition to strong written communication skills.

For example, great communication skills like confident public speaking can come in handy when providing a training session to a group of new team members. As a supervisor, your team will look to you for the information they need to do their jobs well. Having the right communication strategies under your belt will help ensure that everything is conveyed clearly and effectively. Strategies include clear and concise messaging, regular check-ins, an open-door policy, tailored communication (recognizing individual communication styles and preferences), and feedback mechanisms.

Tip 2: Be a Good Listener

Being a good listener is just as important as being a strong communicator, and this is especially true when you're in a supervisory role. Employees need to feel heard and to know that their input is valued. You can demonstrate this by practicing active listening techniques , such as maintaining eye contact when a team member is speaking to you and listening without judging or jumping to conclusions.

Tip 3: Encourage Professional Development

When team members have opportunities to engage in professional development, everyone wins. Employees enjoy the confidence and satisfaction that comes with learning new skills; meanwhile, the company benefits from employees with more expansive skill sets.

As a supervisor, you can encourage your team members to learn and grow professionally by researching and presenting opportunities to employees. Whenever possible, you should also explore ways for the company to sponsor or help pay for employees to attend professional development courses, workshops, and similar events.

Tip 4: Lead by Example

The most effective strategy for team leadership is to set an example of the kind of work ethic you want to see. Whether they want to admit it or not, employees look to their immediate supervisors to set positive examples. Leading by example is also effective in building trust in the workplace while gaining respect from your team members.

What kinds of behaviors should you strive to model as a supervisor? Focus on the things you want to see in your employees, such as punctuality, authenticity, and pride in your work.

Tip 5: Provide Constructive Feedback

As a supervisor, one of the more important responsibilities you'll have is evaluating employee performance and providing feedback. What you must understand, however, is that not all feedback is created equal. When you aim to provide more constructive feedback rather than destructive feedback, you can keep employees motivated to improve without breaking their confidence.

To provide constructive feedback, focus on offering feedback that is specific, timely and focused on behavior rather than overall personality. Likewise, don't underestimate the power of positive reinforcement. Going out of your way to recognize and praise good work can set a great example for your team to follow.

Tip 6: Empower Your Team

Another strategy is to focus on employee empowerment as much as possible. Empowering employees not only boosts their sense of job satisfaction, but it makes them more productive and useful team members in the process.

There are many ways you can go about empowering your team, such as delegating tasks to specific employees and asking for their feedback on important topics. You might be surprised by some of the new ideas and innovations that may arise from this strategy.

Tip 7: Be Approachable and Available

A great supervisor is approachable and accessible to all team members. Whether someone has a concern or needs clarification on a project, supervisors should always strive to create and maintain an open and inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable approaching them.

One way to be more accessible as a supervisor is to maintain an open-door policy, where employees are encouraged to drop by your office (or set up a virtual meeting) to talk with you at any time. When you demonstrate this availability, you're also demonstrating to your employees that they are your top priority.

Tip 8: Manage Conflict Effectively

Dealing with conflict comes with the territory when you work in a supervisory role. Whether it's conflict between employees or issues between a team member and a client, knowing how to manage conflict effectively will go a long way toward your success in a leadership capacity.

Generally, supervisors serve as the first line of action against conflict. They are responsible for evaluating whether they are equipped to handle the conflict or escalate the issue to management or HR. By knowing how to address conflicts promptly and fairly, supervisors can maintain a positive and productive work environment for all.

Tip 9: Set Clear Expectations

When teams fail to perform to standards, the root cause is often a miscommunication of expectations. Supervisors are tasked with making sure every team member is on the same page regarding the task at hand and the expectations surrounding it.

Supervisors should be prepared to set very clear expectations to maximize their employees’ performance. Because employees learn and interpret things in different ways, supervisors can set clear expectations by presenting project details and individual responsibilities in several mediums (such as in a written memo and verbally in a meeting).

Tip 10: Show Appreciation and Recognition

All too often, supervisors end up with a bad reputation because their staff view them as ungrateful for their hard work. As a supervisor, you can avoid this perception by going out of your way to show genuine appreciation for your team members and the valuable skills they bring to the table.

Consider, for example, finding practical ways to recognize and reward your team regularly. Even something as simple as writing a heartfelt "thank you" note to leave on a team member's desk can go a long way.

Tip 11: Continuously Improve Your Supervisory Skills

Just as you expect your team members to be constantly working on themselves and their skills, you should have the same commitment to improving your supervisory and leadership skills. As you read through this list, take some time to note which skills you consider to be your strengths already and which you may need to improve upon.

Likewise, regularly seek feedback from your team and take any suggestions or constructive criticisms seriously. When you're open to change, the possibilities are nearly endless.

You can also explore other opportunities and resources for learning and development as a supervisor, such as signing up for leadership workshops, practicing your active listening skills with a friend, and enrolling in a supervisor training program.

Learn More, Today

Thriving as an effective supervisor takes a great deal of self-awareness and a willingness to learn new skills. By focusing on these tips and strategies, you can gradually build more effective management skills at your workplace. Taking advantage of professional development opportunities can be especially effective.

At the University of Minnesota's College of Continuing & Professional Studies, you can earn our Supervision Certificate in as little as four to five months. In this fully online certificate program, you'll focus on building the delegation strategies, communication skills, conflict resolution skills and active listening techniques needed to be a more effective supervisor. Request additional information or get in touch with an enrollment advisor to learn more today.