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What Are the Different Supervisor Skills?

The ability to speak a foreign language may be required of a supervisor.
A supervisor must have excellent writing skills in order to adequately compose reports.
A supervisor must be able to balance creating a happy work environment for employees and the ability to enforce regulations.
Skills taught in a management assessment often include project supervision, teamwork, and leadership.
Interpersonal and social skills are important for successful supervisors.
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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2014
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Supervisor skills can be essential to a business. A supervisor can be viewed as a vital connection between a company’s goals and its potential. She is generally in contact with all factions of a business — the workforce, the customer base, and the upper management — therefore, she typically needs social, management, and accountability skills.

Since a supervisor is often in contact with many different types of people, she must have strong social skills. A supervisor is not likely to be effective if she only has the ability to deal with certain types of people. She must do her best to be able to view the same situation from different perspectives.

Communication is an important part of supervisor skills. Dealing with different people often involves relaying information to them. Everyone will not have the same comprehension level. A supervisor may have to help people will little or no education understand subjects that may seem very complex to them. On the other hand, that person may also have to make upper management understand staff issues that they cannot relate to.

Writing skills are also important for many supervisors. Some are required to compose and submit a variety of reports. They may also have to write materials such as memos, notices, and articles for company newsletters that can engage and be understood by the entire staff.

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Supervisor skills are generally not complete without the ability to listen and exercise authority. To transmit information effectively, a person must first be open to receive that information. Sometimes there are valid reasons why an employee did not do what he was expected to do. A supervisor should have the ability to determine when an excuse is valid.

Being in contact with staff often leads to a friendly and casual relationship with them. In some cases, staff may begin to try to take advantage of that relationship. A supervisor should be able to balance creating a happy work environment and enforcing rules and regulations.

Employees who work under a supervisor may not know everything that is necessary to perform their jobs. Supervisor skills often require a person to be able to teach others. In some industries, this may require a supervisor to have technical knowledge that perhaps was not provided to her. The supervisor may have to use her own initiative to learn more than is required so that she can be an asset to her staff.

There are also instances where supervisors must oversee employees who have skills or perform jobs that the supervisors do not understand. Some companies require that a supervisor be able to perform all the jobs that she oversees. At other times, a person may have to supervise people who are highly trained. For example, many scientists have specialized knowledge that their immediate superiors often cannot understand. Those scientists still need to be held accountable to certain standards and abide by certain rules.

As more people move around the world, it is becoming increasingly important to be multilingual. Some people who have been supervisors for many years are now required to add a foreign language to their lists of skills. This is often necessary because it is often easier to have one person learn an additional language than it is to require a large segment of a potential workforce to learn another language.

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anon183142
Post 5

I think supervisors should know the program that they are supervising. It is ridiculous when line staff have more knowledge and expertise. Any one not agree?

anon175491
Post 4

I am dealing with what all us employees consider to be bad supervisors in my government position. If you go through the checklist of supervisor skills-they have been trained--they sit and talk with you-they try to solve problems--but they micro manage--the two best supervisors I ever had (in past jobs) instilled passion for the job, didn't micro manage unless someone wasn't doing their job--which didn't happen because we were treated like adults capable of doing our job.

So yes, it's nice to have this checklist above (which they all seem to meet the skills laid out above) but it really takes a person secure in their own personality; the ones we have now are not. Maybe they project their own shortcomings on others.

anon100925
Post 3

Excellent rendition. I would say the one skill that most programs leave out of discussions is the supervisor's role (skill) in reducing the likelihood of workplace violence.

BrickBack
Post 2

Icecream- I agree with you. Supervisors must have great interpersonal skills. I think new supervisors might benefit from a management class.

Many schools offer training online as well. The American Management Association offers various management development classes that deal with effective communication in the workplace. They offer classes onsite and online.

icecream17
Post 1

I agree that strong interpersonal and communication skills are very important skills that a supervisor must have.

For example, a supervisor usually offers training to his subordinates along with coaching and counseling sessions with the employee that is not meeting the company’s objective.

The supervisor has to be motivating in the training sessions while somewhat delicate in the coaching session. This will allow the employee to want to improve. Strong interpersonal skills are one of the most important skills of any supervisor.

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