Succeeding as a manager or supervisor requires a range of hard and soft skills ranging from basic business expertise and planning abilities to problem-solving and interpersonal skills. Whether you are looking for training for yourself or your employees, you can find a range of free supervisor training online that can help teach these skills. Your options include video courses, online certificate and diploma programs, business training websites, webinars, ebooks, online communities and university websites.

Alison Supervisor Diploma Courses

Focused on competency-based training, Alison offers numerous free supervisor training programs that can lead to an optional diploma or certificate of completion if you choose to pay a fee. The certificate courses take only a few hours and focus on a specific area of management, while the diploma courses can take up to 10 hours and offer more comprehensive training. You can also pursue a learning path, which consists of multiple management courses and takes up to 20 hours to complete.

While the free lessons from Alison contain ads, members can become premium subscribers to get rid of them and gain access to special discounts and resume assistance. The site's management lessons are easy to follow and interactive with a mix of images, videos, quizzes and videos.

The leadership and management category contains around 60 course options. Several of the courses teach broad supervisory and management skills, while others specialize in change management, strategic management, business communication, entrepreneurship, business growth or international leadership. Supervisors seeking to learn general business skills can also find Alison courses that teach human resources, sales, finance, operations and project management.

Skillshare Video Courses

Skillshare offers a selection of video-based courses and lessons on supervisory management lead by seasoned professionals. Some courses feature projects that students can complete at the end and share with others in the Skillshare community. There is also a community component to each course where you can post questions and comments about the lessons. Most courses run between 15 minutes and three hours, making them a good choice for bite-sized training rather than as a full management curriculum.

Some of Skillshare's offerings for supervisors and managers include:

  • Management Essentials: Everything You Need to Know to Be Successful as a New Leader
  • Leadership Quick Start Guide
  • Creative Leadership Toolkit: Curiosity, History and Discovery
  • Modern Leadership: Give and Get Honest Feedback at Work
  • Demystifying Culture and Leadership: Strategies for a Successful Business
  • Strategy: Essentials for Management, Consulting and Startup Success
  • Dealing with Conflict at Work: Real-World Strategies and Tools
  • Manager's Guide to Difficult Conversations
  • Productivity and Time Management: Get More Done

Udemy Video Courses

If you prefer learning through watching videos, Udemy has an extensive library with thousands of professional-led online business courses, and there are several free options for those seeking management training. All of the site's courses lead to a certificate of completion, contain lifetime access and work both through the Udemy website and mobile apps. You will also find that several instructors include downloadable resources that offer outlines of the course materials or highlight tips for effective management.

Some free options for management training on Udemy include:

  • Operations Management
  • Better Management Through Understanding Yourself
  • Define Your Company's Culture: Motivate and Engage Employees
  • A Manager's Guide: Work Responsibilities and Psychology
  • Leadership: The #1 Key to Guaranteed Business Success
  • A Mini Course on Time Management
  • Learn and Master the Basics of Finance
  • Introduction to Human Resource Management
  • Becoming a Better Leader

One thing to note is that the free courses on Udemy tend to be short sampler courses lasting just a few hours. More extensive leadership courses are available that can last upwards of 30 hours, but these come with a fee.

edX Management Courses

Known as a massive open online course provider, or MOOC, edX offers a selection of staff supervision training courses from global universities and training providers. While you can take courses separately, edX often groups courses into programs called MicroMasters. You can expect the typical course to include videos, text transcripts, quizzes, peer assessments, reflective journals and a community component.

You will need to pay a fee for each course if you want to use the credit toward the MicroMasters credential or receive a certificate to show on your LinkedIn or resume. However, edX allows learners to audit the course content for free and complete lessons at their own pace with the limitations of temporary course access and no graded assignments.

Some of the supervisory course options available include:

  • Leading the Organization (University of Queensland)
  • Strategic Management: From Insight to Decision (RWTH Aachen University)
  • Becoming an Effective Leader (University of Queensland)
  • Digital Transformation: Leadership (KTH Royal Institute of Technology)
  • Innovation Leadership (Georgia Tech)
  • Becoming a Successful Leader (Catalyst)
  • People Management (Indian Institute of Management Bangalore)

Coursera Management Programs

Also a MOOC provider similar to edX, Coursera offers structured online courses in leadership and management and allows users to audit them for free. Courses follow the same format with video lessons followed by quizzes, peer-reviewed assignments and a discussion forum. Major universities have created the curriculum and have their professors appear in the lessons.

Along with the free options, you can get a verified course certificate for a fee or complete skills tracks called specializations. The site offers more costly graduate degree programs and MasterTrack certificates in business administration and leadership from institutions such as the University of Illinois, HEC Paris and Macquarie University.

Some of the management courses found on Coursera include:

  • Foundations of Everyday Leadership (University of Illinois)
  • Fundamentals of Management (University of California, Irvine)
  • Applications of Everyday Leadership (University of Illinois)
  • Adapt Your Leadership Style (Macquarie University)
  • Management Fundamentals (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Conflict Management (University of California, Irvine)

FutureLearn University Courses

If you are interested in learning management skills from well-known universities without paying or signing up for a degree program, consider taking a free online supervisory management course through FutureLearn. The site partners with business schools around the world to offer free online courses that you can take at your own pace for personal enrichment for a set time. You can also upgrade to a paid subscription that offers a certificate of completion, progress tests and course access for an unlimited time. There are also opportunities to transfer credits to a degree program.

Courses have material organized by week and incorporate discussion forums, activities, multimedia, quizzes and assignments. Most courses last anywhere from a few weeks to months. Some of FutureLearn's management skills courses include:

  • People Management Skills by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
  • Management and Leadership: Leading a Team (Open University)
  • Management and Leadership: Growing as a Manager (Open University)
  • What Is Leadership? (Deakin University)
  • Decision Making in a Complex and Uncertain World (University of Groningen)
  • Leadership Coaching Through Turbulent Times: Playing with eFire (Queensland University of Technology)
  • Managing People: Understanding Individual Differences (University of Reading)
  • Managing People: Connecting Motivation and Performance (University of Reading)
  • Giving Helpful Feedback (University of Colorado, Boulder)

Free Online University Courses

Individual universities also offer free online supervisor training courses that often mirror those that their actual students take in person or online as part of an undergraduate or graduate degree program. You can expect to have access to text, audio or video lessons, instructor notes and assignment outlines.

A few catches are that you will not get any actual course credit or have access to personalized help or grading from instructors. Further, you may have to purchase textbooks unless free ebooks are available, and some of the courses are a few years old and may have some outdated content.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Open University (OU) are two popular options for these free courses. MIT's courses use the syllabi for previous actual classes and include book lists so that you can obtain materials wherever you would like. OU's courses tend to be just a few hours long, have labels based on the level of difficulty and include all the reading materials for you at no cost.

Some free courses you can take from these providers include:

  • Dynamic Leadership: Using Improvisation in Business (MIT)
  • Discovering Management (OU)
  • Building and Leading Effective Teams (MIT)
  • The Role of the Manager (OU)
  • Organizational Leadership and Change (MIT)
  • Making Decisions (OU)
  • Leadership Lab (MIT)
  • Managing and Managing People (OU)
  • Cross-Cultural Leadership (MIT)
  • Management: Perspective and Practice (OU)
  • Negotiation and Conflict Management (MIT)

Master Class Management Certificate Program

Advertised as a self-paced "mini MBA", the business management certificate program from Master Class Management offers a free alternative to a college program if you do not need a credential from an accredited university. Lessons are text-based and accessible across multiple devices.

The comprehensive Master Certificate in Business Management suits both new and seasoned managers and requires 10 lessons covering these topics:

  • Strong leadership
  • Organizational management
  • Team management
  • Recruitment
  • Conflict management
  • Time management
  • Business communication
  • Business basics (finance, business law, customer service, information systems, human resources, marketing, sales, economics)

If you are short on time, you can alternatively earn the Master Certificate in Supervisory Management if you complete four specific lessons or the Master Certificate in Fundamental Core Management if you finish the first seven lessons.

MindTools Leadership Resources

Although it does offer a paid membership option for unlimited access to its resources, MindTools allows users to access a limited number of articles and videos per month for free. The site has step-by-step guides covering topics such as decision-making skills, problem-solving tips, time and stress management, creativity in the workplace, business strategy, team management and leadership styles.

To make studying easier, the site allows you to add articles to your custom learning plan. You can also sign up for the site's newsletter to receive regular updates about the content and special resources like free workbooks.

Other Online Supervisor Training Options

If you are looking for an alternative to structured courses or for some supplemental material, you can also attend free online management webinars. The training company Management Concepts offers pre-recorded webinars for managers interested in learning about improving organizational performance, handling change, improving emotional intelligence, taking risks and motivating individuals. You can also search YouTube for recordings of management presentations from companies around the world.

You can also consider reading management and leadership ebooks. Wikibooks offers an extensive ebook named "Managing Groups and Teams" that emphasizes team-building and helps supervisors establish leadership in their organizations. Your local library also likely offers free ebooks for library cardholders, and you can likely find several books on leadership and management skills through the virtual collection.

You might even join communities such as LinkedIn to receive mentorship and advice from experienced supervisors. In addition to its general groups like Leadership Think Tank and Leadership & Organizational Development, LinkedIn offers thousands of groups geared toward leaders in specific industries such as legal services, education and healthcare.