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8 Challenges of Being a Supervisor

Most people want the responsibility, position, and payday that comes with leadership. Whether leading their own business or someone else’s, supervising a team comes with a lot of benefits. However, there are also several challenges of being a supervisor that potential leaders need to understand.

Managing people comes with some unique challenges. While there’s no quick fix to these problems, being aware of these common challenges can help. Whether you aspire to be a supervisor or have recently been promoted to a supervisor role, be prepared for what’s coming. Here are a few of the most common supervisory challenges and some solutions.

1. Keeping Employees Engaged

If you’ve landed a management role, you’re probably very engaged in your work. So, it might come as a surprise to you if the people around you don’t feel a similar amount of pride or “team spirit” in their work. 

Make it a goal to create an atmosphere where team members can develop positive relationships with each other. Also, small talk can become meaningful by helping people get to know one another. Over time, this can help create stronger relationships and build trust.

For some people, engagement means getting involved with social events organized through the company. For others, engagement means knowing who to ask or where to go when they need help with work-life balance or help with their well-being. 

One size does not fit all when it comes to increasing employee engagement. And, there are many reasons for low employee engagement. Finding those reasons and addressing them consistently is a quality all great supervisors possess. 


2. Maintaining Good Communication

Another quality of a good supervisor is their ability to communicate well. How would you rate your communication skills? Good communication not only responds to problems but tries to prevent small problems from getting worse.

Maintaining good communication is one of the ways you can enhance your own reputation and gain the trust from others. Poor communication – or no communication – can damage relationships within an organization. It can damage effectiveness and morale.

It isn’t always easy. Good communication involves:

  • What you’re saying
  • How you’re saying it
  • When you’re saying it

As a supervisor, you’ll have to announce policy changes or even bad news. Emailing, calling, or scheduling a meeting are all ways you might choose to do it. How and when you choose to announce these things could make all the difference.


3. Managing Different Personalities

Management of others is one of the main responsibilities of a supervisor. This might be one of the things you start to dread as a people leader. Have you identified any hard-to-manage people on your team?

Are there any toxic personalities on the team? A gossip? A constantly negative Nancy? A person who steals credit for someone else’s work? Avoiding problems is technically a strategy, but this could backfire. 

As a supervisor, there’s a line to walk between letting grown adults sort their own conflicts out and stepping in to intervene. Sometimes, the best course of action will be to let them work their own issues out. Other times, you will need to step in. Ultimately, you will need to exercise good judgment while steering the team toward a common goal.

A way to start to manage these personalities is to understand the main types of temperaments. Here are the four most commonly understood types of personalities you’ll work with within the workplace.

  • Sanguine-This temperament is characterized by enthusiasm, optimism, and sociability. Sanguines are usually excellent communicators and connectors. However, they may struggle to maintain focus and adhering to boundaries. 
  • Choleric-Cholerics are characterized by ambition, determination, and assertiveness. They are natural-born leaders and goal driven. But, some may exhibit controlling tendencies and may not be as empathic as others.
  • Melancholic-The Melancholic temperament is characterized by introspection, sensitivity, and deep emotional nature. They are problem-solvers and are usually the most responsible people around. On the downside, they sometimes have an issue adapting to change and can struggle with indecision and self-criticism. 
  • Phlegmatic-Phlegmatics are calm, stable, and usually have a relaxed demeanor. They are typically easygoing and cooperative. However, they aren’t usually the most motivated people and can have a hard time expressing their emotions and being assertive.

4. Managing Absenteeism

Attending work on time as scheduled may seem like a basic part of employment. However, you may be surprised to find that managing absenteeism is a time-consuming portion of being a supervisor.

It’s important to communicate to your team how they should request time off, and how they should inform you of unforeseen absences. The company’s policy on these things should be clearly communicated to everyone. 

It’s also important to maintain clear records of absences. These records may be needed in case an employee has to be terminated due to poor attendance. 


5. Meeting Team Goals

Does each person on your team know what their role is? Does everyone know how their success is being measured? When expectations are unclear, team goals are at risk. Everyone should know what their role is in helping the group and the company succeed.

Part of this goes back to clear communication. Is anyone on your team wondering, “How am I supposed to do my job?” 

If so, there should be a clear path for them to get advice or figure out their next steps. This is connected to how new employees are welcomed and trained. If an employee isn’t succeeding, a supervisor should have conversations with them early on.

6. Navigating Organizational Change

Supervisors must adapt to changes within the organization.  This includes things like implementing new policies, procedures, and technology. They are also responsible for guiding their team through these changes. This can be challenging if employees are resistant or struggling to adapt.

However, there are some things you can do to make change easier. First, embrace change and maintain a positive attitude. Your team will feed off of your enthusiasm or lack thereof.  You can’t control their responses. But, your demeanor will influence it.

Communicate the rationale behind the change and its potential benefits, and provide ample support and resources to help team members adapt. Be patient and empathetic, recognizing that change can be difficult and may require time for adjustment.


7. Keeping Employees Motivated

Different employees will be motivated by different things, but there are a variety of strategies that will help keep employees motivated.

First, avoid a micromanagement style. New managers may struggle with this while they’re adapting to the role and developing trust in themselves. However, most employees will not perform as well for a micromanager as they will for a leader that adopts a more trusting management style.

Be flexible in scheduling as much as possible while also meeting business needs. This will increase loyalty to the company, as employees are more likely to stay with a company that acknowledges their life outside of work.

Communicate to employees any opportunities for growth or advancement. This can be particularly important to workers who are conscious of managing their own careers. If employees feel that there is no room to grow within, they may have no choice but to look outward.

Provide your expertise to your team as you are able to do so. This can help you develop strong working relationships with your team. The more trust you can inspire in your team, the more they will look to you for leadership and direction. Managers who are distant and unavailable are less likely to have highly engaged teams. Those who try to develop their teams are more likely to have an engaged group that wants to contribute to the success of the company.

8. Maintaining Work-Life Balance

Leadership without stress is like a rose without a thorn; the two just come together. Supervisors often face increased workload and responsibility. This can lead to stress and burnout. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial for both personal well-being and effective leadership.

As a supervisor or leader you will have the tendency to let your work become your life. However, this is never going to work in the long run. Set boundaries and prioritize self-care, ensuring that you allocate time for relaxation, hobbies, and social connections. Learn to delegate tasks and responsibilities. Also, build and develop a support network of colleagues and mentors who can provide guidance and encouragement.


There are many challenges to being a supervisor. These challenges are common, but they can be solved. With awareness and attention, a supervisor can address these problems and develop a team that will reach its full potential.

Also Read:

How to Be a Good Supervisor: 8 Things to Start Doing Today

8 Important Responsibilities of a Supervisor

8 Qualities of a Good Supervisor

Erin Shelby on TwitterErin Shelby on Wordpress
Erin Shelby
Team Writer: Erin Shelby is a writer and blogger based in Ohio. Follow her on Twitter @ByErinShelby

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Entrepreneurial Lifestyle · Find Your Way · Grow Your Business · Leading Your Team · Productivity

Team Writer: Erin Shelby is a writer and blogger based in Ohio. Follow her on Twitter @ByErinShelby

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