No supervisor is typically specifically trained as one. Learning to manage people is usually done on the job, with promotion given to people willing to take more responsibility (in this case, in making sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to be working). To be an excellent supervisor, you can always learn from what the past supervisors have done and improve on those experiences you enjoy or dislike. Having a mentor will help too. How to be a supervisor? Aim to be a leader, rather than just that someone in a management position.

Top 14 Practical & Essential Tips on How to Be a Supervisor


Tame Yourself

Understand your personality and tame it. If you are usually very quiet, you will have to be more outgoing and naturally, be a people person. Decisiveness wise, you can actually be too decisive that it might scare people, learn to tone yourself down, maybe giving yourself time to think might help you be a better decision maker.


Be a Supportive Coworker, Not a Friend

There is a reason some supervisors feel cold or distant from the workers, one of the most important rules as a manager is to not become friends with the employees. Being friendly and being a friend is different. You don’t want to be too close to a certain person since you might end up showing favoritism and skewed your decision making. Remember, you are the one to deliver bad news and enforce discipline, you won’t feel comfortable doing that to a friend.


Be Accessible

The best way to learn your environment and the team is learning them from your workers personally. Be visible and accessible to them, as you get to know how they enable the business to work, and their strengths and weakness better.

You are in a team, with you as a leader. You are the captain of the ships, establishing your authority and make sure your staff is working with you, as you encourage your workers to rely on you.


Be Considerate

Employees are people. They have friends, families and an actual life. Working after hours should only be considered when it’s urgent. Plan for extra hours long beforehand to give your employees room to plan around them. Threatening them with a salary cut will only hurt your reputation and the business in the long run. A happy worker is a productive and efficient worker.


Be Consistent

Be fair and consistent in the way you deal with the workers. Learn your staff and lead them to work as a team together, trust and rely on each other, and work out the problem as a team. If they steer off your goal, guide them back and discipline as necessary. Be the impartial judge to the situations.

It’s easier to lose trust than build them, favoritism will smack that trust away. Keep your authoritative distance to keep your decision making fair and to your values.


Be Adaptable

The world is always changing at a faster and faster pace. To be efficient, you need to keep up with the time and trends. A good supervisor follows old age rules and norms while a great supervisor adjusts them to the team he is working with.


Set Goals

Know what you are aiming for, have your team a direction to arrive at under you. There is no need for a complex goal, something simple such as “make a profit”, “no injuries while you are on the job” or “making sure to provide the best service” are all fine goals to go for.


Understand the Difference Between Fair and Equal

Expect some employees to feel that they are being treated unfairly. Giving everyone different things is a possibility of showing fairness. Recognition, for example, is enjoyed by everyone, but everyone expects different kind of recognition (openly versus privately recognized, rewarded with a gift, etc.)


Ask for Feedback

The supervisor does not have all the answers. People have this presumption that the supervisor has the answer to everything and you end up feeling pressured by it. You are still learning on the fly, so do so. Ask for feedbacks and inputs, learn how you could continue to improve yourself and continue learning.


Be a Role Model

Build your respect in the team with a hands-on approach. Take on projects, maybe something the one uninteresting to the team and have it done wonderfully. This will not only set the standard of quality the team should follow, but earn their respect as a supervisor that is more than words.


Know Constructive Criticism

Mistakes happen, your job as a supervisor is to reprimand the employees and making sure it’s never repeated again. Criticize in proportion to their mistake. Yelling at them will only demotivate and humiliate them. Understand the reasoning behind the mistake, give constructive feedback and you will have a better worker.


Communicate Respectfully and Effectively

Listen carefully to other’s concerns and ideas. That openness will help you to understand different situations, making better decisions for them. Making the space and time to listen to your workers is part of becoming an effective communicator. Give them the respect they deserve with your undivided attention and in return, they will be more willing to do the same with your guidance. Keep your workers committed and enthusiastic by listening to them and not just strictly giving orders.

Speak concisely and clearly. Lecturing workers might be a show of power, but they might end up just missing the whole point and take your criticism as nagging. Short and sweet, convey what you need and communicate it over the phone, or face-to-face. If you are using emails, avoid wordy ones and keep them respectful, concise and clear.


Find Someone You Can Trust

Being a supervisor, you have access to plenty of confidential information, whether they are personal information of your employees or an organization secret. Keeping mute about them can be pretty frustrating. You can’t share this with your employees since you still need to maintain that wall between leader and followers, they might even spread the information around. Find someone you can talk to about this, maybe someone in a different department, your friend from another company or your family. Just make sure that you can fully trust this person.


Relax Yourself

This is also crucial for how to be a supervisor. All that stress will eventually catch up to you. It’s alright to let your guard down from time to time. Share a joke or embarrassing stories with your employees, maybe complain about customers. Remind that despite being in the position of authority, you are still a human being.


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