What Is a Supervisor? Key Skills, Duties and Roles

A supervisor plays an essential role in a company’s management. Their presence in a firm is crucial for ensuring that activities run smoothly on behalf or in the absence of a manager. If you are looking to hire a supervisor for your company, it’s important to choose someone who has the skills and experience necessary to succeed in the role, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the qualities that make an effective supervisor, especially when it comes to their role and day-to-day responsibilities.


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What is a supervisor?

A supervisor is an individual immediately in line after management who is responsible for monitoring and regulating a company’s staff in their performance of delegated duties. Particularly, they oversee the daily performance of a small group, team or department. A supervisor has the authority to recommend or exercise discipline, promotion, rewards and hiring, and they perform many functions that help improve a company’s productivity. For this reason, a supervisor’s role is popular in industrial and administrative settings.

Related: How to Manage Employees


Requirements for being an effective supervisor

The job of a supervisor is an intensive role, so when you are looking for candidates, it’s important to choose someone who can handle the job’s responsibilities. The following are some of the expectations you might have when looking for a qualified supervisor:


Duties and responsibilities

A successful supervisor should be able to perform various day-to-day duties and responsibilities, such as:

  • Accomplishing department objectives by supervising staff and organizing work processes
  • Implementing and enforcing systems, procedures and policies
  • Monitoring employee productivity by providing useful feedback and training
  • Setting performance goals that comply with the organization’s plans and visions
  • Ensuring compliance with legal and company policies and procedures
  • Relaying information from upper management to employees and vice versa
  • Handling customer issues that might escalate and require a supervisor for management
  • Assisting in the hiring and firing of employees
  • Controlling budget information, overseeing variances and employing corrective measures



A high-quality supervisor needs to have certain skills to excel at their job, including the following:

  • Excellent communication skills for effective listening and positive body language for giving feedback to employees and customers
  • Good conflict resolution abilities to improve organizational productivity
  • Strong leadership skills to create a supportive and motivating work environment
  • Good interpersonal skills to identify and establish a purposeful team culture
  • Outstanding time and priority management to manage intense workloads and time constraints
  • Ability to recognize diversity issues and appreciate their impact on the workplace
  • Ability to solve problems effectively by choosing suitable solutions

Related: How to Motivate Your Employees


Education, training and experience

Education, training and experience are vital requirements that guarantee a knowledgeable and well-trained supervisor. Here are the specific requirements you should look for in a quality candidate:

  • Education: A supervisor should have at least a high school diploma or GED. Some companies prefer a bachelor’s or associate degree in business or management for a more knowledgeable candidate.
  • Experience: It is imperative for a supervisor to have substantial experience, especially working with teams. They should have a sufficient understanding of the duties and activities of a manager, possibly with previous leadership experience.
  • Training: Most organizations prefer that their supervisors receive front-line management training to learn essential management and communication skills. You should also look for candidates who have been trained on typical company policies and legal guidelines in all necessary fields.

Learning about a supervisor’s career

Several different factors define the role of a supervisor, some of which include:


National average salary for a supervisor

The national average salary for a supervisor is $14.74 per hour in the United States. This figure may be subject to variation depending on the location and size of your company as well as your specific industry. Additionally, the salary may be different for a supervisor with more experience compared to a supervisor who is new to the role.


Work environment

A supervisor’s main responsibility is ensuring the best possible team performance. This type of accountability is beyond any pressure they may have encountered as a team member. The role also involves having authority and managerial support to handle employees on behalf of the management, so it is important to look for someone with excellent communication and leadership skills who is capable of handling these responsibilities.


Job outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, projects that require a supervisor or administrative manager are expected to grow by 7% by 2028. Job duties such as supervising facilities and coordinating support services for organizations will remain crucial in many industries.


Frequently asked questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about supervisors:


Why is it important for me to have a supervisor on my team?

A supervisor plays an integral role in any organization’s structure. They provide a connection between the organization’s executives and staff members. A qualified supervisor has sufficient training and experience and ensures that teams perform smoothly and achieve their goals. 


The role of a supervisor is therefore crucial to the success and operation of a company. For example, a supervisor at a heating and air conditioning company might help liaise between upper management and the employees to meet the needs of both parties.


What is the difference between a supervisor and a manager?

Although the terms manager and supervisor are used interchangeably, the roles can be different depending on the industry. A supervisor reports to managers within the hierarchy of the workplace, supervising the day-to-day activities and operations of a team or department, and a manager directs a company’s major affairs.


For example, a printing company might have a manager who oversees all of the employees in the office, while each department has a supervisor who oversees the operations of that specific team, such as accounting or customer relations.


What questions should I ask a supervisor candidate in their job interview?

Here are a couple of questions you should ask a supervisor candidate when interviewing them to make sure that they have the skills, qualifications and experience to meet the needs of your company:

  • What skills do you have that make you a good supervisor?
  • How would you handle conflict between colleagues?
  • What is your management style?
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