The role of a management supervisor is a multitasking function that supports the leadership of a business, troubleshoots, creates new solutions, provides team-building, gives guidance and confirms accountability in all the areas assigned to that manager. It can be a bewildering and stressful role at times, and it can also be very fulfilling. Those who understand how the function works before getting into a supervisor’s position will tend to perform better, since much of the learning involved is by experience rather than theory.

Basic Responsibilities

A supervisor’s responsibilities can vary and aren’t just limited to the obvious function of personnel supervision. They can include company representation to external parties, committee membership, training of rank and file, recruitment, disciplinary functions, hiring and selection duties. The supervisor is usually the lowest delegated level of company management to represent the company in all matters affecting the supervisor’s area. As such, the job expects the recruit to be flexible, creative and able to anticipate where an issue will go before making a decision.

Setting an Example

The supervisor, particularly a first-line manager, makes a large impression on staff every day. And rank and file employees will watch their managers closely to gauge what is allowable, what is not and what direction management prefers issues to go in. Both verbal and nonverbal observations are considered. As a result, the supervisor needs to always be conscious of how his or her words and actions will be perceived.


Although it is not automatically made clear in every case, most businesses want their management supervisors to exhibit good leadership. It is one of the most fundamental traits desired in a management recruit. Can the person lead other people? Can he or she make decisions as needed, even without plenty of time for research, and can it be the right one? Leadership is the bread and butter of a successful manager. Ready managers can take on this responsibility from day one. And, over time, those supervisors who exhibit an aptitude for showing good leadership consistently get promoted.


Those wanting to be a supervisor should not shy away from the hard side of being a manager. A company needs people it can rely on to maintain discipline and, if need be, mete out correction when needed. This skill will be required from time to time of a supervisor. The best approach is to become aware of how progressive discipline is handled correctly in your company, and then making sure you follow those steps every time you have a guidance or discipline meeting with your staff. Documentation is key, since every later step depends on the first steps accurately being recorded.

Emotional Intelligence

Though rarely discussed in formal training, understanding the benefits of utilizing emotional intelligence as a supervisor can reap dividends in career success. The concept is straightforward: pay attention to verbal and nonverbal clues to understand and anticipate where staff members are emotionally. Good supervisors tune in to these signs daily and then make decisions accordingly to get the best productivity out of their staff.

As a management supervisor, your performance is gauged by how you get people to do what you want them to do. So you rely on their performance for your own success. Emotional intelligence can make this process far easier than a trial-and-error approach.