Supervisor’s Toolkit: 15 Easy Steps to Outshine at Work

Whether you’re a seasoned supervisor or stepping into the role for the first time, this guide is designed for you. Learn how to elevate your leadership style, inspire your team, and cultivate an environment of success.

Let’s embark on this transformative journey and unlock your true supervisory potential.


15 Steps for New Supervisors

Becoming a successful supervisor is not an easy task. It requires a combination of knowledge, skills, and experience, as well as a willingness to learn and adapt to changing circumstances.

We will explore 15 key elements that new supervisors must pay attention to achieve excellence in their role. Each element covers a specific area of supervision, from understanding the purpose of supervision to building and leading teams, managing employee performance, and complying with personnel policies and regulations.

Organizations define the jobs of supervisors differently. Of course, we don’t expect middle managers to have the exact job expectations as first-level supervisors. But there are common competencies.

To be a manager, one must be able to manage her own relationship with the people around her, as well as the relationships among his subordinates. Just being perfect in paperwork and operations does not make one a good manager.

Sophie Rose

1. Master your role.

The first step is to know the importance of your job to your organization.

Supervision in a typical Filipino workplace is a supervisor’s primary job. The supervisors oversee the productivity, performance, progress, and potential of employees who report to them.

There are many kinds of supervisors. The first-level supervisors oversee the entry-level employees. The middle managers supervise first-level supervisors. C-level executives supervise middle managers.

Knowing the importance of your job is true for any career. If you don’t know why people have to pay for what you do, then you won’t be able to make the people who need your services happy.

Effective supervision starts with understanding your job responsibilities and how they fit into the bigger picture of your organization. 

You are responsible for overseeing the work of others. You must ensure that tasks are completed on time and to a high standard, and have to provide guidance and support to your team. 

Workplace examples of this include managing a team of sales representatives, overseeing the work of customer service representatives, or supervising a group of technicians in a manufacturing facility.

To understand your role, I offer these few steps:

  • Take the time to fully understand your job description and the expectations of your role. This includes learning about the specific tasks you are responsible for, as well as the goals and objectives of your department or organization. 
  • Seek opportunities to learn from experienced supervisors or mentors within your organization. This can help you gain a deeper understanding of your role and develop the skills needed to be successful. 
  • Communicate regularly with your team to ensure that everyone is clear on their responsibilities and the expectations for their work. 
  • Be proactive in identifying areas where you can improve and seek out training or development opportunities to enhance your skills and knowledge.

Do not hesitate to ask questions. 

Today, supervisors are people tasked to oversee the day-to-day performance of employees. They don’t just watch and report what people are doing. A good supervisor plays the roles of a team leader, trainer, facilitator, coach, mentor, confidante, decision-maker, innovator, and salesperson to ensure goals are achieved. They drive organizational growth. It will help you a lot if you can distinguish between your supervisory and management jobs.

Onboarding to your new role may take six months. But not every organization provides that much time to learn the job. Some organizations do not have the resources nor the ability to teach you how to be a good supervisor. So you really need to take the initiative.

2. Identify your purpose.

Understand the benefits of supervision.

In the olden days, the purpose of supervision is to watch everyone from above. They catch employees who are doing something wrong – or doing nothing.

Today, supervisors exercise leadership and watch people doing things right. Supervisors are everyday leaders who ensure the success of organizations.

This change in purpose requires that a supervisor thinks like a business owner, a counselor, a coach, a mentor, a customer champion, and an employee.

Supervisors no longer work like lieutenants who have to wait for orders from their superiors. They are executives who must set their own goals that support the mission and make things happen.

Competencies evolved. You go beyond the POLC: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling model of supervision. That’s because it is not just a job; supervision is both a responsibility and an opportunity to transform people.

Promotion to the role is quicker, a lot quicker. You do not have to wait many years to get appointed to the post. Fresh graduates can become supervisors as long as they have the competencies and maturity to handle the job.

Seniority does not always equate to maturity.

We have already established that your role is vital to your organization. You need to know your role. When you are effective, your role can lead to increased productivity, higher job satisfaction, and better overall performance for both individuals and teams.

But to be truly great in your job, you need to have a purpose. And that will become clear when you see the benefits of your supervision.

There are several actions you can do to know and sell the benefits of supervision:

  • Understand the purpose and goals of supervision in your organization. This includes learning about the specific needs and challenges of your team, as well as the overall mission and vision of your organization. 
  • Work to build trust and establish positive relationships with your team members. This can help promote open communication, collaboration, and a sense of shared purpose. 
  • Strive to create a supportive and positive work environment that encourages employees to take risks, learn from mistakes, and grow in their roles. 
  • Recognize and celebrate the achievements of your team, and provide constructive feedback and support when areas for improvement are identified.

When you supervise on purpose, your job is never stuck in a transactional space. You can create a transformative role.

3. Lead with purpose.

Embrace the core responsibilities of a supervisor.

Supervisors have one primary responsibility: to make customers happy. To do that, supervisors must ensure the timely delivery of products and services, keep employees engaged and motivated, reduce waste, and increase profitability.

Sure, supervisors do a thousand things. But doing this one thing will make it clear why you have to do or not do a thousand things.

Leading with purpose involves taking on the core responsibilities of overseeing the work of others, providing guidance and support, and ensuring that tasks are completed to a high standard.

To effectively lead with purpose, supervisors should:

  1. Communicate clearly and effectively: Good communication builds trust and creates a positive work environment. Be clear and concise when delivering your team feedback, instructions, or guidance.
  2. Establish clear expectations: Set clear expectations for team members in terms of performance, behavior, and overall goals. Ensure that everyone is working toward a common purpose and that individual contributions are aligned with organizational objectives.
  3. Foster a positive work culture: Create a work environment that is supportive, collaborative, and respectful. Promote open communication, encourage teamwork, and recognize and celebrate the achievements of team members.
  4. Develop leadership skills: Effective leadership is a key component of leading with purpose. Invest in professional development by seeking out training, mentorship, and other opportunities to develop leadership skills.
  5. Lead by example: Supervisors should model the behavior they want to see in their team, including accountability, initiative, and a commitment to excellence. Set an example of excellence to inspire and motivate your team to achieve their best work.

4. Strive for excellence.

You can be a better supervisor.

A supervisor who values self-leadership will learn faster than anyone. It is not enough that you give back to the company what you get from them. You need to return that value a thousandfold.

My objective for writing this guide is to help you do great work. I am adding value. Go beyond being a good supervisor.

But let’s answer this very common question, anyway.

How to become a good supervisor?

To be a good supervisor, identify customers’ success metrics. Then, work on each success measure beyond the expectations of the customers.

Practice happiness plus one.

Supervisors have two kinds of customers: internal and external. Inside the organization, supervisors must meet their key performance indicators and earn the respect of their bosses, peers, and direct reports.

These are the steps on how to be a good supervisor.

5. Measure your success.

Evaluate your performance as a supervisor.

To evaluate is to ascertain value. The most prominent measures of a supervisor’s success are the key performance indicators.

High-performing supervisors make an organization survive. You also evaluate the supervisors’ potential or the supervisor’s willingness to learn new skills and accept responsibilities.

Supervisors who are quick learners are assets to the organization. Finally, consider the willingness of the supervisor to assume greater responsibilities by considering maturity and skills.

6. Thrive in crises.

Build crucial competencies for effective supervision.

The four most critical supervisory skills during the pandemic are communication, creativity, resilience, and adaptive leadership.

Supervisors need to communicate clearly and with compassion.

Employees are anxious and confused. Supervisors need to be creative in finding solutions as the organization faces extraordinary challenges.

7. Build management skills.

Study the essential skills for successful supervision.

Supervisors practice essential management skills like decision-making, problem-solving, planning, delegation, and meeting management.

In supervisory training, one typical module is leadership versus management. And mostly, it is as if a leader is better than a manager.

Supervisors both need to build leadership and management skills. When supervisors make decisions, solve problems, delegate work, and conduct effective meetings, they exercise leadership skills.

It should be leadership and management, not versus as the two almost always come together.

You are exercising management skills when you ensure you make the process work to get tasks done. You are exercising leadership when you are inspiring and enabling people to get the jobs done. Supervisors often exercise management and leadership skills at the same time.

Often, it is the management skills where most supervisors falter. And when supervisors fail in managing the process, their leadership suffers.

As a manager, the more consistent you are, the better off you are. It’s easy to be up when things go well. When things don’t go well, the players will follow your lead. So you have to be consistent and upbeat, which takes some work sometimes.

Terry Francona

8. Build high-performing teams.

Use strategies for leading and motivating employees.

Supervisors are team leaders. They must ensure that their direct reports work as one unit and value the team’s goals more than their personal goals.

Building and leading a team is a process. It is a big responsibility that requires both commitment and competence.

When building a team, you must clarify goals, identify roles, establish open and honest communication, and define how decisions will be made.

To lead a team, you need to respect diverse beliefs and ambitions. It would be best if you gave direct reports opportunities to solve problems together. And you want them to participate in leadership so that they’ll be able to work even without your supervision.

Did you get that last line?

Your ultimate aim is to enable them to work even without your supervision.

People work for people, not for companies. A worker’s regard for his supervisor will affect his opinion of his employer. Production is related to attitude, so much so that an organization which disregards this human equation will not achieve as much as it could achieve.

Gerard R. Griffin

9. Prepare for the future.

Identify job roles and requirements.

Identifying job roles is a supervisor role in good times. This role is even more necessary in challenging times.

Our Covid-19 situation requires that supervisors re-define the roles of employees. There are changes in how people work and where they work. It would be best if supervisors would recommend the crucial roles needed to succeed in a crisis.

One day, the Covid-19 crisis will be over. We will work in the new normal. But we do not know what the new normal requires. Supervisors must consider the roles of direct reports in the new normal, for that will surely come.

What are the requirements to ensure that everyone is safe? How can everyone work more effectively in the new environment? What are the competencies needed to become successful? You will ask many challenging questions — and you must find answers to them to prepare your people.

Read: Effective Supervisors Solve Problems

build loyal employees
The right employees make good supervisors.

10. Hire the right people.

Understand how to attract and select the best candidates.

Not all supervisors are involved in hiring employees. I prefer that they are active in the hiring process.

In hiring employees, know the current and future requirements of your organization. Figure out how your company’s strategic directions will influence the kind of people you want for the job. You will consider skills, attitudes, and previous experiences.

Though I do not believe that previous experiences are predictors of future performance, you can get good information valuable to making excellent decisions.

11. Equip employees.

Find strategies for enabling employee success.

Supervisors are often required to train employees. Unfortunately, many supervisors do not know how to teach — and training does not always work. Excellent supervision happens when people are competent.

Your job is not to train employees.

Your job is to help employees learn faster and better. You will enable them to become successful. So, it does not mean you must bring them to a classroom.

No. Your job is to create an environment that will help employees acquire critical skills, practice vital behaviors, and choose a growth mindset.

Think like a business owner. To make your business grow, you grow people. You make them learn, practice what they learned, and get them to teach others.

A manager must always provide the employees opportunities to continuously improve their skills and reassure them that they have a promising future.

Abhishek Ratna

12. Maximize performance.

Manage employee performance for results.

The successes of your direct reports determine your supervision success. You pay attention to their performance, potential, and readiness.

You set goals. Define the contribution you need from each. Show to get things done. Then measure performance.

To manage performance, supervisors need to ensure that what they do daily will bring results. Give constant feedback. You praise and correct. You instruct and suggest. You make everyone focus on work and how they do work.

To check problems in attitude, you counsel them.

To improve skills, you coach them.

To grab new opportunities, you mentor them.

To save them from hell, you pray for them.

You do all of these because your failure to manage performance will surely make the organization fail.

Read: Giving Feedback: Essential Tool to Improving Employee Performance

A manager is not a person who can do the work better than his men; he is a person who can get his men to do the work better than he can.

Frederick W. Smith

13. Comply with policies.

Learn to navigate personnel policies and regulations.

Supervisors are employees too. That’s obvious, but a reminder is not bad. You must comply with personnel policies and follow internal regulations.

You comply for your protection.

You comply to set yourself as an example to others.

You comply because doing so is good for your organization. You want to help others who monitor you get their jobs done too.

And most importantly, you comply because you don’t want to get fired.

14. Make the toughest decisions.

Know when and how to terminate employees.

Not all supervisors can fire employees like Donald Trump. But this is an important job.

An executive who has been handling thousands of employees worldwide told me that his secret is “to hire slow and fire quick”. I am not really sold on this concept. I think it has something to do with my being a teacher: I give people many chances to redeem themselves.

He said that you don’t hire an employee because you need a person to do the job. You hire someone who can do a great job. He said that when you hire a mediocre candidate, you deprive yourself of the opportunity to welcome the great ones when they come. Why? Because the seat is filled.

But hiring is not an exact science.

Sometimes, you get to hire someone who seems excellent during interviews but doesn’t get the job done. The person is not fit for the job. You hate working with him or her. He said that you fire that employee as quickly as possible.

But you do not have that power. And I am not sure if that is even legal. But what he said about firing people who are not fit for the job makes good sense to me.

You won’t accomplish your tasks and achieve your goals if you don’t have the right person for the job. As a teacher, I will say that you give the person the support you believe is necessary. Do everything in your power to help the person, but not to the detriment of your organization.

Even before you hire someone, know full well how you can legally fire him.

15. Invest in yourself.

Invest in continuous learning and development.

To become a better supervisor, you need to develop skills that you never had before.

First, you are going to lead people. Good leaders use their personal power to influence others to do what’s good for them.

Second, there is no one way of leading others. As much as experience can teach you how to supervise others, training can accelerate your progress and help you avoid common mistakes.

  • Join seminars.
  • Read books. You don’t have to buy expensive books. Download ebooks online. It is perfectly legal. Experts found ways to share what they know in the modern world without asking you to rob a bank.
  • You can watch Youtube videos.
  • Join courses on Coursera.
  • Enroll in Linkedin Learning.

Articles on Supervision

This website offers valuable articles that can help you improve your supervisory skills. Explore new insights, strategies, and tools that can help you lead people.

To Lead By Example. Supervisors need to set examples for others. That means their actions and words are the best expressions of what they want from people.

  • 18 Awesome Skills for Supervisors. We explored supervisory skills training because we understand the value of skills as the enabler of performance. If you want to get ahead and do your job as a supervisor, I encourage you to explore these 18 skills. 
  • Top 17 Qualities of Good Leaders. People follow leaders whose characteristics they admire. Explore the admirable qualities of good leaders. Discover ways to demonstrate these qualities in your daily practice as a supervisor.
  • Enable Others to Act. Good supervisors explore many ways to help employees get things done. The supervisor is a coach, trainer, and mentor. Enabling others to act is a vital behavior of breakthrough leaders.
  • Why do Managers Need Training? This article highlighted ten workplace supervision effects. Number 8 is reduced profitability. Do you want your company to earn more? Then, take care of supervisory development.
  • Get and Recieve Feedback. Your ability to listen will enhance your effectiveness as a supervisor. You will intervene in the day-to-day work of your people. Giving and receiving feedback ensure that people are fully aware of their actions.
  • Training Beliefs of Supervisors. Many supervisors do not value training. They have many reasons for not sending a supervisor to new training opportunities. Most of these reasons prevent them from succeeding.

If you want to learn more, go to the Zero to Hero blog.

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