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How Do I Develop Supervisor Skills?

Lainie Petersen
By
Updated Jan 30, 2024
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If you are or hope to be promoted to a supervisory position at work, it is important that you develop strong supervisor skills. There are many ways of doing this, and you may find that utilizing multiple approaches is your best bet for fully developing your potential. Approaches for improving your supervisor skills include reading books and taking management courses, observing and working with your own supervisor, and paying close attention to your interactions with your subordinates. Even if you are not yet in a supervisory position, you can increase your chances of promotion by learning supervisory and management skills as you work in your present job.

Talk to your supervisor about obtaining formal training in supervisory skills. In some companies, employees can take advantage of in-house training programs that have the advantage of also educating you about company-specific policies and procedures. If your company does not automatically provide you with the training needed to learn and improve your supervisor skills, ask if your company will reimburse you for taking a course on your own. Management courses and workshops are frequently taught at industry trade shows, adult education centers, and both online and at traditional colleges and universities. If you cannot easily take a course or workshop, your local library should be able to help you find management books and DVDs that can be of great help to you.

Another key aspect of developing good supervisory skills is to pay careful attention to supervisors and managers whom you believe are doing a good job. By noting what they say and do when working with other employees, you can model your own management behavior on their good example. It is wise to work closely with your own manager, particularly as you settle into your new role, and to regularly ask for feedback on both your performance as well as your approach to dealing with both routine and uncommon challenges.

Once you begin to actively supervise other employees, it pays to engage in regular reflection on your work. If you counsel an employee on a particular matter, keep your approach in mind as you observe the employee's behavior during the next few weeks and months. Although you certainly cannot force an employee to behave in a specific way, if his performance improves, you may want to counsel employees similarly in the future. If the employee's performance does not change or declines, consider what you could have done differently. Through ongoing experience plus self-education, you can improve your supervisor skills such that you may be considered for additional opportunities both within your company and with other employers.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Lainie Petersen
By Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen, a talented writer, copywriter, and content creator, brings her diverse skill set to her role as an editor. With a unique educational background, she crafts engaging content and hosts podcasts and radio shows, showcasing her versatility as a media and communication professional. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a valuable asset to any media organization.
Discussion Comments
By SteamLouis — On Nov 05, 2014

@bluedolphin-- That is a dilemma that most supervisors face. I suggest reading about employee motivation. There are great articles out there, including here on wiseGEEK about motivation.

You see, everyone needs an incentive to work and do a good job but people get motivated by different things. For some people, the motivation is the paycheck and that's why they are there. For others, the motivation is the work itself. Some people do need to be motivated but you will have to spend some time to understand what motivates them.

For example, an employee might be motivated through a reward system for their work. On the other hand, the exact opposite, the fear of being reprimanded motivates them.

I, personally, am motivated by positive criticism. I mean, I work the best when I know that my employer likes my work. Normally, I don't take negative criticism well but if my employer also tells me something good about me (preferably in the same sentence), then I do take criticism well and I work better.

By bluedolphin — On Nov 04, 2014

I'm a supervisor but I'm still learning. I am communicating well with my team members and I think we understand each other. But I do have a problem motivating a few of the members. Some people motivate themselves and they don't need much from me to go out there and do their work well. But others seem to want me to nudge them in the right direction and I'm not entirely sure how to do that as of yet.

By fify — On Nov 03, 2014

The most important supervisor skills are about communication. Communication forms the backbone of forming a trusting and productive relationship between employer and employee. Not only does the employee need to understand their work, tasks and what they are trying to achieve, but the employer must also understand what works best for the employee.

Some supervisors think that they just need to order everyone and everything will fall into place. But it doesn't work that way. It's important to communicate with the employee one on one and form trust.

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen, a talented writer, copywriter, and content creator, brings her diverse skill set to her role as an...
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