A department supervisor's duties vary according to the type of business for which he works as well as his employer's policies. Typically, a department supervisor is responsible for training, scheduling, and supervising a group of employees who work in a particular group, department, or division of a business. In situations where employees have contact with customers and the general public, the supervisor may act as a liaison in situations where a customer is experiencing difficulties. In many companies, a department supervisor also acts as a liaison between entry-level employees and middle management. Supervisors may be key holders for a place of business and may be needed to supervise or conduct certain financial transactions, such as issuing customer refunds or preparing bank deposits.
Many companies rely on senior employees to monitor less experienced workers. For those companies that have multiple management tiers, appointing a supervisor can reduce the workload of middle managers while also providing additional structure to a department or work crew. In many cases, someone who assumes a supervisory role already has a significant and positive employment history with the company she works for. These supervisors are often very familiar with a company's culture, policies, and practices and are in a good position to effectively evaluate the performance of other workers.
While hiring decisions are often made by managers, a department supervisor may still have a significant amount of input into whether a job applicant is offered a job. After hiring, the department supervisor may work with the new hire to train him for his new position. In retail environments or in businesses that operate on a shift schedule, the department supervisor will typically be responsible for assigning job shifts and managing employee requests for time off and schedule changes.
Supervisors are generally responsible for implementing policies at the direction of management and may also be in a position to advise managers regarding the promotion or termination of employees. In retail establishments, it is not unusual for a supervisor to have a key to the place of business, and he may be responsible for being present to let employees in at the start of the work day and will ensure that the business is properly locked at closing. The services of a supervisor may be required in cases where a customer needs a refund or other financial transactions take place.
Department supervisors may have significant customer service responsibilities in addition to their supervisory work. A department supervisor may be in a position to negotiate with customers and remedy problems such as defective merchandise or late deliveries. In situation where there is conflict between a customer and employee, the department supervisor may assume responsibility for working with both parties to determine the source of the problem and to address the customer's needs while also supporting her employee.