8 Essential Supervisor Skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 19 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

In many industries, supervisory positions are essential to the successful completion of workplace functions. If you manage a team or lead a group of people, it's important to develop a combination of hard and soft supervisory skills. Understanding the types of skills and traits that can contribute to your success as a supervisor can contribute to your successful professional development. In this article, we define supervisor skills, provide examples and offer steps to develop and highlight your supervisor skills.

What are supervisor skills?

Supervisor skills are the talents, traits and competencies needed to successfully manage or lead a professional team. These skills help managers, directors and leaders ensure the proper completion of tasks, successful fulfilment of projects and adherence to workplace policy. Successful supervisors often have a combination of soft and hard skills that they can apply to their daily responsibilities. Common professions that may benefit from developing supervisor skills include:

  • Project manager

  • General manager

  • Teacher

  • Executive

  • Coach

  • Childcare worker

  • Assistant manager

  • Team lead

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Management Styles

Examples of supervisor skills

Below are some examples of essential supervisor skills:

Communication

Communication is an important skill for individuals working in supervisory positions. As a supervisor, manager or team leader, you may need to communicate expectations, processes and goals to a variety of teams and individuals on your staff. By communicating progress updates, potential barriers and company updates, you may help your staff members feel engaged and informed.

In some management positions, you may act as a point of communication between your teams and upper management or ownership. Being able to convey relevant information between these two departments can ensure that the entire organisation understands expectations and can work towards a common goal.

Decision-making

As a leader, you'll likely be responsible for making decisions that can impact the success of your employees and your organisation. You may also need to make influential decisions under a deadline or pressure. Having the confidence and autonomy to make important, complex choices can empower you to analyse all of your options and make decisions that contribute to the success of your organisation.

Adaptability

In a leader or supervisory position, being adaptable can help you navigate changes in the workplace. Changes like adjustments to policies, shifts in company structure or business priorities may occur during your time as a supervisor. Adapting your methods and processes to account for unexpected changes can ensure that your productivity and effectiveness as a leader remains intact despite changes to your workplace.

Teamwork

Working as a contributing member of a team is an important skill for individuals working in management or supervisory positions. Treating your team members like equals as opposed to subordinates can help you develop positive, healthy relationships with your staff. Often, positive relationships contribute to the productivity and emotional fulfilment of teams and departments.

Related: Management Skills: Definition and Examples

Honesty

It's important to remain honest with your team while completing your tasks as a supervisor. Honesty and transparency can help you build trust with your employees, which can foster mutually beneficial relationships. It's also important for supervisors to be honest about their team's performance and to provide helpful feedback for improvements. Being honest with your team can also encourage an open dialogue which can contribute to the collaboration, cohesion and consistency of your team's efforts.

Empathy

Being empathetic is a valuable skill to develop as a manager, leader or supervisor. If you focus on understanding your employees and make an effort to be accommodating when they need support, you may earn their respect and trust. If you can show understanding while still leading your team to meet its goals, you may increase your department's morale and earn your team's loyalty.

Confidence

Developing a sense of confidence can help you more effectively lead groups of people. Your team members may be more willing to follow your directions if they feel you are confident, competent and capable as a leader. Your attitude can also have an influencing effect on the atmosphere of your workplace. Being confident in your abilities can encourage your team members to feel confident in themselves and the unique value they bring to their position.

Positivity

A positive attitude is crucial when leading a team. It's important to develop optimism as a leader so your team members have someone to rely on in challenging times. A positive perspective can encourage your team to persevere during challenging or uncertain times. Showing a positive attitude can enhance a healthy workplace environment and result in greater employee satisfaction.

Related: 18 Skills of Good Managers

How to develop supervisor skills

Follow these steps to develop your supervisor skills:

1. Ask for feedback

To develop your supervisory skills, it's important to understand the areas in which you could improve. Be sure to ask for feedback from your employees and fellow managers to better understand the skills you need to work on. You can do this by holding regular reviews, discussions or meetings where you can have an open dialogue about your performance as a manager, leader or supervisor.

If you feel your team would be more comfortable providing feedback anonymously, consider using an online submission service to allow them to submit reviews anonymously.

2. Take part in training

Once you know the areas in which you'd like to improve as a supervisor, consider seeking training and skill development courses in these areas. There are several online platforms and skill development services where you can learn tools and techniques for enhancing your communication skills, developing empathy, increasing your confidence or being more analytic when making decisions. You may also attend seminars or public speaking events that feature successful supervisors discussing their methods of developing relevant skills. Consider researching upcoming events and opportunities for supervisory skill development in your community.

3. Self evaluate

Continual self-evaluation is an important part of developing your skills as a supervisor. Be sure to constantly review and internally analyse your performance as a manager, leader or supervisor. This is an important step in measuring your progress as you develop your skills and adjusting your methods as needed. Consider journaling or keeping a daily log to document your successes and challenges when using your superior skills.

Related: How To Write a Self-Assessment

How to highlight supervisor skills

Consider the following steps to highlight supervisory skills at various phases of professional development:

1. Describe your skills in your cover letter

When contacting potential employers, be sure to describe your supervisory skills in your cover letter. You may use one paragraph of your cover letter to describe your relevant supervisory skills and traits. Try to keep the paragraph three to four sentences in length. It may be beneficial to mention any leadership roles you may have had or moments during your career when you were responsible for leading a team. Do your best to keep the descriptions of your supervisory skills straightforward and concise.

It may also be beneficial to use similar keywords and phrases as listed in the job posting to emphasise your compatibility with the role.

2. Include your skills in your CV

It's also important to highlight your supervisory skills in your CV. To do this, you may create a separate skills or highlights section in which you describe your most impressive supervisory skills and developed traits. Consider creating a bulleted list of six to eight of these skills and provide a brief, single-line description of each.

You can also highlight your supervisory skills when describing responsibilities of past job titles in your work history section. To do this, try to include specific, measurable accomplishments within the descriptions. Using quantifiable examples of your talents as a supervisor, manager or leader can help recruiters more accurately visualise your potential success within their organisation.

Related: 10 Manager Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

3. Discuss your skills in your interview

When interviewing for supervisory roles, be sure to discuss your relevant skills and talents with recruiters. Interviews can be a great way to further elaborate on the skills and talents mentioned in your CV and cover letter. Try to discuss real-life scenarios in which your supervisory skills helped you to succeed as a leader in the workplace and use specific, measurable data whenever possible. It may be beneficial to also discuss any supervisory skills you didn't previously mention in your CV or cover letter so that recruiters can fully understand the entirety of your qualifications.

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