Building Great Places to Work

February 24. 2015

10 Qualities of a Great Supervisor [Research]

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February 24. 2015

What makes a great supervisor? The best ones lead by example when managing, leading, empowering, and involving employees. We've taken research from the some top organizations and identified some of the top qualities of good supervisors and managers.

1. Lead by example                                              

Excellent managers and supervisors lead by example. They are to model the organization’s mission and values, embody the desired culture, and create an environment where employees can thrive; all while remaining positive and supportive.

2. Treat employees respectfully, fairly, and empathetically

It's important to create a positive work atmosphere by making decisions in a fair manner, treating employees consistently, communicating honestly, and being respectful towards employees. Top supervisors and managers are also expected to act empathetically and compassionately when responding to employees’ needs and concerns.

3. Meet, communicate, and interact regularly

Top supervisors and managers take an interest in their employees through regular face-to-face communication and by building positive and constructive relationships. They're expected to share important information, be accessible to employees for questions or issues they have, and work with employees collaboratively.

4. Provide feedback and manage performance

Managers and supervisors are responsible for participating in ongoing performance feedback to employees concerning their performance and employer expectations, and to provide an opportunity for employees to discuss options for improving performance and better understanding expectations.

5. Coach, mentor, and train

Top organizations typically expect managers and supervisors to take a coaching approach with their employees: teaching and guiding them towards success, growth and advancement, and providing training and development support when needed.

6. Empower employees

Top organizations want supervisors and managers to empower employees. Supervisors and managers are encouraged to provide autonomy and freedom to employees, and to encourage employees to take risks and try new things.

7. Support and encourage employees

There is an expectation that supervisors and managers will encourage employees, assist employees with problems and conflicts, provide flexibility, help them manage their work, and build trust and confidence. They are also expected to provide the tools, information, and resources for employees to perform their jobs successfully.

8. Encourage collaboration and teamwork

Top supervisors and managers are expected to create a climate within their work group that encourages collaboration, cooperation, and teamwork. Supervisors are expected to promote and foster an atmosphere that accepts diverse perspectives and styles.

9. Share responsibility for talent attraction and retention

Great companies let supervisors and managers know that they share in the responsibility for attracting and retaining talent. Retention is supported through recognizing and rewarding good talent, advocating for employee development, and understanding barriers to progress and growth. They are also expected to participate in gaining top talent through the recruiting, hiring, and selection process.

10. Serve the needs of their employees

Servant leadership, specifically, is a common management philosophy among top organizations. They aren't focused on positional leaders; but rather, believe that all team members have the ability to be leaders in various situations. Leaders are expected to be focused on serving needs of the people they lead and making sure they know how important they are to the organization.

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