What does it mean to be a supervisor?



What does it mean to be a supervisor? According to vocabulary.com it means: “A supervisor is the person in charge at your job, who monitors you as you work. ... To supervise means to oversee, so a supervisor is someone whose job it is to oversee everyone else as they work.” Seems straightforward, right? Yes and no. Which is why sometimes it can be hard for people who may be first time supervisors to understand, fully, what their role is. This happens a lot in small businesses as employees may transition into a supervisor role, so let’s explore this a little more so your small business can be prepared to set supervisors up for success.


Sometimes it is easier to start with what something is not.


A supervisor is not:

· someone that uses “power” to make someone do something they don’t want to do.

· someone that micromanages or stands over someone’s shoulder watching their every move.

· someone that takes the ideas of employees and makes them your own.

Nobody likes to be supervised like that.


Perhaps if we change the language behind the title of supervisor it may help change the mindset of responsibilities as a supervisor. Words such as guide, mentor, leader, supporter. Those are the words that really encompass what the role of a supervisor should be.


A supervisor is:

· someone who is a resource for employees throughout their job. That might look like guiding them to specific trainings, listening to their challenges and providing supportive options for solutions, or someone who has done the job before and knows the field and is able to provide direction, the list goes on.

· someone that provides support. That means when the employee is handling a difficult situation, directing them to appropriate resources, providing a listening ear, or just being there when they need a boost.

· someone that established expectations and follows through with feedback. Whether through a performance evaluation process or something more informal such as on-the spot recognition, this feedback is important to employees’ growth within the company. Being able to provide manageable goals and usable feedback in a performance evaluation is a crucial responsibility to the role of supervisor.

· someone that holds employees accountable and guides their performance down the right track.

· something that thinks ahead of the now to understand how policies, company strategy and goals may impact employees and is communicative about that with employees. Open and transparent communication is the key to the success of a supervisor.


Ensuring that supervisors in your small business have the tools, resources and understanding of what their role is and is not, is in the best interest of everyone involved…. Employees, the business, even the customers.


Let’s talk about how to set up supervisors for success in your small business.


- Jessica