Supervisors, also known as front-line supervisors, populate many types of industries. The features of these sectors often shape the supervisor job description. While front-line supervisors may have matters specific to their industries, they share a common set of skills, duties, and need for experience.
Supervisor Job Overview: What Does a Supervisor Do?
Supervisors direct activities of specific crews and ensure their tasks are accomplished according to quality and safety requirements. These professionals manage, field concerns, and resolve conflicts with workers and help crews meet deadlines and other pressures. To do so, supervisors rely on the ability to relate to and communicate with employees.
Supervisor Director Job Duties
- Assign employees to shifts, tasks, and departments.
- Evaluate and discipline employees based on their performance, attitude, and actions.
- Hire and train employees.
- Educate staff on and enforce safety rules and standards.
- Ensure work areas and spaces are organized and safe for employees and visitors.
- Report workplace incidents, such as injuries, equipment malfunctions and thefts to other supervisors or upper-level managers.
- Order or requisition inventory, supplies and equipment
- Keep records of sales, production output, costs, employee time and work activities.
- Resolve disputes between or among employees.
Specific duties vary by industry or work-setting. For example, supervisors in retail stores assign cashiers and sales people in various departments. In production or manufacturing, the supervisor job description also includes ensuring workers wear safety equipment and that gear and safety devices properly operate. Those in food preparation ensure that workers observe sanitation regulations and standards, such as the proper temperature for food storage.
Supervisor Job Essential Skills
Management. A significant part of the supervisor job description consists of the ability to know where, when and how to direct employees. This includes recognizing spikes in, for instance, shoppers, demand for production and diners. In the construction field, a supervisor should know what workers are needed for various phases of the project. Management skills also include conflict resolution, discipline for breaches of workplace rules or policies.
Interpersonal. Building trust, exhibiting and promoting a positive attitude, supporting employees and giving honest, constructive feedback are some of the interpersonal skills supervisors must employ. Supervisors cultivate credibility among their employees through explaining the reasons for their decisions and admitting mistakes.
Communication. Supervisors need to clearly instruct employees and convey tasks and goals to achieve. They may relay messages and points through graphic examples to illustrate ideas. Their daily activity includes communicating via email, individual meetings, and group meetings. Communication skills also include listening to feedback from upper-level managers and employees and asking questions of employees.
Detail-oriented. Supervisors plan and track matters such as work schedules, staffing needs at particular times, sales volumes and production output. Being detail-oriented also helps supervisors ensure that employees, products, and services meet safety and quality standards.
Becoming a Supervisor Professional
The supervisor job description emphasizes prior work experience in the particular field. With experience performing the tasks, supervisors are equipped to instruct and offer feedback to employees. Typical post-secondary education includes community and technical college, with certain employers preferring or hiring college graduates.
Qualifications and Training
Supervisors generally have at least a high school diploma. A college education can help but often is not an essential requirement. For example, O*NET reports that, while 40 percent of front-line supervisors in retail had a high school diploma, only 20 percent of these supervisors took some college courses.
In the production and operating workers sector, approximately 23 percent of supervisors held a bachelor’s degree. One in three supervisors of construction trade workers had a college education.
Depending on the employer, supervisors may receive management or leadership training. In certain specialized environments, such as road construction crews, prospective supervisors take training courses involving safety requirements and methods for work zones.
Prior work in the particular field or with a specific employer often leads to supervisor positions. For instance, supervisors of construction, electrical or plumbing workers have themselves been apprentices. In retail stores, supervisors obtain promotions after demonstrating a work history.
In certain settings, supervisors must have certifications. As an example, traffic control supervisors for road crews may need a “Flagger Certification” by which they demonstrate the ability to stop, slow and guide traffic through work zones.
Supervisors normally log full-time hours.
With manufacturing facilities, stores, and other establishments operating continuously, supervisors can expect evenings, nights and weekends. Many retail stores operate twenty-four hours per day. Road crews may work evenings and other times of reduced traffic flow. In restaurant settings, supervisors are on duty in the mornings, afternoon and evenings, depending on the restaurant’s menu. Restaurants experience heavy traffic on weekends and at special occasions such as Mother’s Day, Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
Supervisors in office settings are more likely to have traditional daytime hours and to avoid weekend work. However, certain offices such as medical offices may be open evenings or weekends to accommodate clients.
Job Outlook & Advancement Opportunities
Employment growth varies among industries. O*NET reports that, In “Construction Trades and Extraction Workers” sector, employment of supervisors should rise from nine to 13 percent by 2024. This translates to 103,600 job openings in this category.
By contrast, “Production and Operations Workers” group should see a two-percent drop in employment by 2024. Projected employment growth should range from two percent to four percent among supervisors of retail workers.
Prospects for supervisory jobs will often follow demand for workers in various fields. For instance, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of assemblers and fabricators should decline by one percent through 2024. This decline is due to the increased use of technology in production.
With experience and performance, supervisors can advance to department heads and other upper-level management roles. To get a complete overview of the field and other similar positions, discover the program manager job description.
Supervisors summon their skills of communicating, identifying with employees and knowledge of their companies’ and legal standards to guide employees. Experience contributes significantly to a supervisor’s performance.
To conclude, job prospects depend often on the type of industry. Supervisors will find opportunities with employers in high-demand fields. However, where technology performs in place of individuals, supervisors will face difficulties landing work in the role.