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What Makes a Good Supervisor?

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What Makes a Good Supervisor?

What Makes a Good Supervisor?

A post from our Managing Teams blog

      Written by Ashley Andrews
Teams require good leaders and supervisors to remain on track and accomplish their goals.

Without a good supervisor, a team can be directionless and struggle to reach their goals in the required period of time.

But what are the characteristics of a good supervisor? What traits do you need in order to motivate your team and ensure that they reach their goals under your guidance?

In this article, we discuss all the traits you require in order to lead a successful sales team, but they're just an example, and will apply to all  teams, not just sales teams. And let me just add, if you get to the end and feel like you don't have the traits or the skills, you will learn from experience, but a much shorter way to learn is through effective supervisor training.

So now let's look at those traits:
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1. Knowledgeable about the organization's products and services

As a team supervisor, you need to know everything there is to know about your company's product and services.

For example, even a well-trained sales team will require some assistance from its team leader when the prospect asks them detailed questions about the products and services that they've never had before.

If you aren't able to answer these questions, the sales process will be delayed and you might lose the lead. If you have enough knowledge, you can answer the questions promptly and impress your client.

That can lead to conversions, increase in sales, and help improve your overall reputation.

Customers will recommend your services or products to their connections if they're impressed by the sales process.

It's the same in other departments too.

2. Great at communication

A supervisor is the conduit between the team and the executives of the company.

They convey the goals, expectations, changes, and other such factors to the team, so that the team can perform according to the needed standards.

A good supervisor should have the ability to convey goals and instructions clearly to the team, and answer any questions they might have; and should communicate and develop a good rapport with their team members.

Your team should feel comfortable enough to approach you without hesitation if there's a problem.

3. Empathetic and friendly

Different team members might experience different problems to others, learn at a slower pace than others, make mistakes and fail, or have conflicts with other members of the team.

As a leader, you need to empathise and listen to what they have to say carefully.

If members of your team hesitate to approach you when they experience problems, you might not be aware of the issue, and know how to resolve it. This can have an impact on the overall productivity of the team.

If you are always empathetic and friendly to your team members, they'll be more comfortable in your presence and will come to you for advice.

4. Assertive when needed

Being approachable doesn't always mean you need to be soft on mistakes and issues.

A leader must be assertive, know how to deal with the issue, and if necessary, show there will be consequences if there are too many mistakes and a general lack of productivity.

You can combine your assertiveness with empathy by addressing your team members in private if needed.

You should also know how to firmly but compassionately deal with any personal conflicts between two or more team members.

If you're assertive, your team will recognise you as the leader and will look to you for direction and support. If you're too soft and passive, you won't be able to establish yourself as a leader.

5. Clear goals and vision

A supervisor needs to have a clear vision and realistic goals for their team.

For example, you can set up daily challenges and milestones for your team so they're enthusiastic and motivated enough to get things done efficiently and quickly.

You should have the ability to gauge whether your team can reach that goal in the given period of time, without becoming overwhelmed.

You also need to communicate these goals clearly to your team to ensure they know what to do and what is expected from them.

6. Confident about their decisions

Supervisors need to be decisive and confident, because that ensures the team is that way too.

If your team sees you're uncertain and hesitant to issue directions, they'll assume you don't trust your ability to lead them, or their ability to perform as you expect them to.

Your team will draw inspiration and determination from your decisive actions and be more productive.

7. Ready and willing to listen to feedback

Some supervisors are too focused on being the leader and don't work with the team, which can have an impact on team morale and efficiency.

You have a group of intelligent and well-trained people in your team and they can provide valuable solutions and feedback on different issues and obstacles. Listen to all of their suggestions and solutions, and consider them seriously.

You can also discuss new ideas and strategies with your team during meetings. This will indicate to them that their input and advice is welcome, which will improve teamwork and productivity levels as well.

8. Ability to delegate tasks

Leaders are in the habit of taking on too many responsibilities.

Too often, they do this because they believe that they're best equipped to handle the tasks.

You need to trust your team of carefully chosen individuals to handle different challenges as well. For example, if a salesperson is dealing with a particularly difficult client, but hasn't asked you for assistance, just observe from a distance and let them resolve the issue on their own.

That's the best way for them to learn and ensures you have time on your hands to focus on more important tasks and responsibilities.

Team and mountain

9. Flexible and adaptable

Change is a part of life, and every company experiences a number of changes as it grows.

As a supervisor, you need to be flexible and adaptable enough to adjust to these changes and help your team adjust as well.

Your team members will look to you for direction in times of uncertainty, and will expect you to provide instructions on what to do.

If you're adaptable and flexible, you will help them adjust as well.


Leadership skills aren't innate, and very few people are "born leaders".

You just need to spend some time and effort on your skills and abilities in order to develop these leadership qualities. If you keep improving yourself and are self-aware enough to recognise your flaws and limitation, and do something about them, such as taking a supervisor skills course, you'll find success as a supervisor much easier to achieve.

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