An operations supervisor oversees and directs the activities of the operations department or operations staff of a company. The position is a generic one and common in many types of companies and industries, including service, retail, business, and manufacturing, in both the private and public sectors. An operations supervisor is responsible for a wide spectrum of responsibilities and must be able to multitask with ease and proficiency. The position requires regular and often daily interaction with all company departments.
The required abilities and skills of the position vary greatly depending on the type of business. Regardless of the business category, the supervisor must be a master at project prioritization and time management, as the demands of the position are varied and numerous. He must also be proficient in oral and written communications, remain cognizant of all company policies and procedures, and be able to inspire employees to exceed goals. Working long hours and having a flexible schedule are expected from many operations supervisors.
In a less visible capacity, a person with this job works behind the scenes to ensure smooth operations throughout all departments. He reviews departmental and individual employee performance, and prepares related assessment reports, maintains activities logs, monitors productivity, and prepares reports for management, which may suggest procedural or personnel changes. All this is done with the overall quality, productivity, and profitability of the company in mind.
Some companies require the operations supervisor to make major contributions to the functions of other departments. These administrative roles often necessitate involvement in budget planning and execution, inventory control and management, and retooling individual departments to improve their contributions to the overall company. If his knowledge and experience in a particular area are exceptional, an operations supervisor may be called upon to interact with vendors and suppliers.
Depending upon the size of the company and the number of employees, the supervisor's job description may include duties normally assigned to senior management personnel. This sometime occurs in sole proprietorships where a minimal number of employees are required to handle multiple job functions. For an operations supervisor, common additional responsibilities may include capital equipment budget projections, preparation of proposals for expenditures, and monthly or weekly reports on company progress, industry trends, and potential problem areas.
A college degree is not normally required to become an operations supervisor. A high school degree is strongly recommended, but experience and initiative are often the most important considerations of a potential employer seeking to fill this position. A strong background in any type of management is considered an asset.