A supervisory position is one where you are responsible for a lot of things. You have to manage workflow, manage your team, and report to your higher-ups, all while making sure your employees are engaged and motivated. To do this type of job, a person needs a certain set of skills.
Good supervisors possess certain strengths that can handle all of their responsibilities well. However, if a supervisor doesn’t have some of these strengths but instead has a set of specific weaknesses, they may struggle to keep their department afloat and their team engaged. That is why every leader needs to understand what they do well and areas where they can improve. Doing so will help keep the company moving and those around them confident in the supervisor’s ability to lead. In this article, we will take a look at the various strengths and weaknesses that define a supervisor’s role.
1. Ability to Teach
One important responsibility of a supervisor is the ability to communicate and teach the things their team needs to know. It is also one of the supervisor’s biggest challenges. That is why being able to teach is an enormous strength for supervisors who possess this skill. However, having the ability to teach is not just in knowing how to teach skills to others in a way that is easy for them to learn. It means teaching individuals not only to learn for themselves but also to assist in the learning of their peers.
It goes back to the old saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” Supervisors who are also good teachers can accomplish so much more than those who need to micromanage due to their team not being properly trained. It is also frustrating for the employees of the organization to feel as though they do not know what they are doing.
When a supervisor skillfully delegates tasks, they demonstrate trust in their team members’ abilities. This helps give their team self-confidence. It also encourages individuals to take ownership of their roles. This sense of responsibility can often help improve quality as employees strive to meet or exceed expectations.
On top of that, delegation allows a supervisor to focus their energies on higher-level activities like decision-making, planning, and other areas where their expertise and guidance are most needed. Also, the act of delegation aids in the development of a cohesive team. It facilitates the sharing of knowledge and skills among members. This cross-pollination of expertise can cultivate a richer, more diverse skill set within the group.
On the personal side of things, delegation helps in preventing burnout which is a common issue in environments where supervisors attempt to manage an excessive workload single-handedly. By distributing tasks wisely, a supervisor ensures that workloads are manageable.
3. Strong Communicator
One important skill that separates your average supervisor from a great one is their ability to communicate. When a supervisor communicates well, they create a cohesive, well-informed team.
Strong communication as a strength can mean a supervisor is good at the many different aspects of communication. They’re able to relay complex instructions in a way their employees can easily understand. They are also able to listen to feedback and concerns from their team about the processes and even themselves.
On top of that, supervisors who have the strength of good communication know how to handle conflicts better. When one or more employees are not getting along, a supervisor can use their strength to resolve the conflict before it escalates instead of possibly making the situation worse.
While some people are just natural communicators, this is a strength that takes practice. It also takes patience. However, supervisors who practice this will make their team better.
4. Problem-solving Skills
The strength of a supervisor often comes through in how they approach and resolve these challenges. Supervisors with strong problem-solving skills are easy to identify and are huge assets to their team and the company they work for.
Supervisors with this strength can analyze a situation and identify any underlying issues. They can also come up with effective solutions to those issues. Their approach is often methodical and evidence-based. This ensures that decisions are not made on impulse but after careful consideration of all factors.
Essentially, supervisors with problem-solving as a strength can turn challenges into learning opportunities. This will help everyone around them feel more confident in their leadership abilities.
5. Decision-making Skill
Closely related to the skill of problem-solving is the ability to make sound decisions. Supervisors are often faced with challenges and need to make tough choices. They need to be able to choose the processes that work, manage the workflow, and decide which employees belong where. All of these decisions impact the team and the company.
To improve this skill, a supervisor needs to learn how to weigh the pros and cons. They must consider the implications of each option they face. From there, they need to take decisive action. On top of that, they must take responsibility for their decision. Regardless of the outcome, supervisors need to own the decisions they’ve made.
This instills confidence in their team and helps them become even better at making choices.
6. Ability to Inspire
Inspiration is the fuel that drives teams to go beyond their limitations, to innovate, and to achieve greatness. A supervisor’s ability to inspire is an invaluable strength. These supervisors don’t just lead by instruction; they lead by example. They instill a vision, and a sense of purpose, and ignite passion within their teams. An inspiring supervisor often has a contagious enthusiasm, a clear vision, and an unwavering belief in the potential of their team members.
When team members feel inspired, they are not just working for a paycheck or out of obligation; they are working towards a shared vision, driven by intrinsic motivation. Such teams are more cohesive, innovative, and resilient, and the credit often goes to the supervisor whose inspirational leadership lights the way.
7. Emotional Intelligence
Last, but certainly not least, is emotional intelligence (EQ). A supervisor with a high EQ is attuned to their own emotions as well as those of their team members. They can understand, manage, and effectively express their feelings while also navigating interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
Such supervisors can recognize when a team member might be struggling emotionally, offering support or adjustments as necessary. This level of emotional awareness ensures that teams function harmoniously, and individuals feel valued and understood.
1. Too Much Emphasis on Being Liked
We all want to be liked. Especially by people we interact with often. This could be family, friends, and even the people who are our subordinates. However, when any leader emphasizes being liked by their employees over the benefit of the company, its customers, and other employees, it can hurt every one of those groups.
That is why it is a major weakness to prioritize likability over making the necessary and sometimes tough decisions as a supervisor. When decisions are influenced by the desire to keep everyone happy, there’s a risk of compromising on the best course of action for the team or the organization. For example, you may have a group that wants a certain team member to work in a specific area of operation. However, you know the employee is not a good fit. What do you do?
The supervisor who wants to be liked will allow that employee to work in that area even if it disrupts other departments or lines of business. However, great supervisors will decide to keep the employees where they can serve the team, customers, and company the most.
2. Cannot Adapt Well
A supervisor who cannot adapt well to changing circumstances is at a considerable disadvantage in their position. Business and the workplace are full of changes. Supervisors need to be able to change quickly and help their team do the same.
Their inability to pivot when necessary can lead to missed opportunities and setbacks for the team as a whole. When a supervisor holds rigidly to preconceived plans and strategies, they may not only stifle the innovation potential. They slow down those team members who can adapt quickly. One of the worst things to experience as a motivated employee is to have your growth slowed by leadership’s inability to keep up with them.
3. Being Unorganized
Being unorganized is a supervisor’s kryptonite. If they are unable to maintain a structured and orderly workflow, things can easily get chaotic. This means, missed deadlines, poor-quality outputs, and upset customers and employees. Furthermore, an unorganized supervisor may fail to properly track the progress of various projects. This results in lost time and resources as efforts might be duplicated or important tasks overlooked.
This lack of organization can also spread throughout the team. When a company has a culture where laxity and disarray become the norm, you can probably trace it back to an unorganized leader.
Supervisors should work on their time management, habitually prioritize vital tasks, and keep a routine. They should also have things in their place and adhere to whatever schedule they create for themselves and their team. Hopefully, this habit of being organized will spread throughout the team and create a well-oiled workplace.
4. Inability to Delegate
A supervisor’s inability to delegate tasks effectively can create a bunch of problems. Not only for the supervisor but for everyone around them. One of the problems is a bottleneck in workflow. This means there is a point of congestion because one person is handling more tasks than they should be. This usually leads to decreased productivity and poor results.
Also, a supervisor who insists on controlling every aspect of a project can inadvertently stifle the abilities and growth of team members. By not allowing them the opportunity to take on responsibilities, they can never prove their capabilities. Ultimately, this centralization of control might lead to burnout for the supervisor and frustration for the team.
5. Having No Accountability
Accountability is a big part of being a leader. Not holding yourslf accountable can lead to an erosion of trust between the supervisor and the team members. A leader should hold themselves up to a higher standard and be willing to admit when they have made wrong decisions or failed in their responsibilities.
A lack of self-accountability can also hinder the professional growth of the supervisors themselves. They may miss out on valuable opportunities for reflection and improvement if they are putting the blame on others.
In the grand scheme, a work environment where there is little accountability can stunt the progression of the team. It will be hard for any supervisor to lead their team to reach its goals if they cannot be responsible for their role in the process.
6. A Lack of Empathy
A lack of empathy can be a huge weakness, as a supervisor. Empathy serves as an important trait in understanding the perspectives, challenges, and needs of team members. A supervisor who fails to show empathy may create an environment where employees feel unheard and unappreciated. All of which can negatively impact morale and job satisfaction.
Also, an empathetic deficiency might hinder effective communication, a strength we previously mentioned. This can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts which are not quickly addressed. Supervisors need to be able to be empathetic to the people around them if the leader wants to bring out the best in those people.
7. Inability to Handle Stress
The job of every leader comes with a considerable amount of stress. The supervisor position is no different. A supervisor who is unable to handle stress effectively is likely to struggle to maintain a healthy, productive work environment. High stress levels can compromise a supervisor’s decision-making abilities. This makes it challenging to respond appropriately and effectively to the day-to-day challenges.
When a supervisor shows their stress, it could potentially create a chaotic and tense work atmosphere. A supervisor who exhibits visible signs of stress might inadvertently set a negative example for their team. Team members will feed off of the stressful state of their supervisors.
Over time, an inability to manage stress can also take a toll on the supervisor’s health. That will potentially result in decreased overall productivity and effectiveness in their role. Supervisors must develop ways to manage stress if they want to lead their teams to success with composure and clarity.
While the role of a supervisor is indeed challenging, being aware of these potential weaknesses can offer a roadmap to self-improvement and growth. Recognizing and addressing these pitfalls head-on can transform a struggling supervisor into an effective, respected, and successful leader.