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Supervisors play a vital role in any organization. Not only do they facilitate the company’s day-to-day operations, but they juggle long-term and short-term goals, and are often a point of communication between ground level staff and upper management. Because of their important role, supervisors must develop certain skills for successful employee management.

Here at NBS, we are dedicated to equipping workers with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. After all, a knowledgeable and competent workforce leads to a stronger overall organization. There are a lot of tips, tricks, and quick fixes out there for managers and supervisors, but we are going to keep things simple by focusing on three essential skills of employee management.   

“Management is, above all, a practice where art, science, and craft meet.” – Henry Mintzberg

Management Skill #1: Communication

At a basic level, communication involves someone sending a message and someone else receiving it. However, it’s not always as simple as it sounds. Remember, communication involves more than just letters or words. Other factors include:

  • Body language
  • Facial expression
  • Tone of voice
  • Point of view

With these fundamentals in mind, here are some specific ways supervisors can apply great communication:

Encourage open communication

Make sure team members know they can always come to you with a work-related problem. If you can’t solve the problem, let them know that you will contact someone who can. This way, you’ll become aware of problems as soon as they surface and can take steps to solve them before your team’s efficiency is affected.   

Address problems immediately

Address problems as soon as possible, even if all you can do is acknowledge the issue. Keep workers updated on the progress of the solution or, if appropriate, ask for their input. Your team will be more productive and efficient if they know their continued success is your priority.

Admit that you don’t know everything

It is impossible for a supervisor to know everything about the job or about the industry. There may even be times when your team members know more than you do. In these cases, acknowledge their experience and let them know how much you value their expertise.

Management Skill #2: Setting Goals and Expectations

sticky notes on a wall

A good supervisor sets expectations and goals for the team. Studies have shown that higher expectations actually increase performance. Of course, this means the opposite is also true. If you expect an employee to perform poorly, they probably will. Here are some things to keep in mind while setting expectations and goals:

Be consistent

Keep your expectations consistent for all your employees. If you tell one worker to follow safety procedures, you can’t ignore another worker who only follows them occasionally. If you pick and choose when to enforce rules, not only will your worksite be at risk, but your team members will learn that you don’t mean what you say. This inconsistency will undermine your authority.

Know when to take corrective action

Few supervisors want to tackle this part of the job, but correcting a worker’s behavior is a necessary part of managing other people. Day-to-day issues, like an employee arriving late or not following instructions, are usually addressed by that employee’s supervisor.

It is best to have a plan in place before the problem arises:

  • Make sure you know company guidelines for handling problems.
  • Spend some time thinking about how to address the issue.
  • Ask the employee if there is anything you can do at work to help solve the issue.

Depending on the problem you may need to bring in a higher level manager or someone from human resources. Regardless of who’s involved, it’s best to be clear and honest with the employee about the consequences of continuing the behavior.

Celebrate accomplishments

Don’t forget to acknowledge a job well done and celebrate your team’s success. Have you broken the record for the most days without a safety incident? Did you meet a deadline or exceed your production goals? Congratulate your team! Post your success on a notice board or in a common area. There may not be time for an award ceremony, but a simple “great job, team” goes a long way toward making your employees feel appreciated.

Management Skill #3: Cultivate Success

Part of a supervisor’s job is to ensure employees have the training and resources they need to be successful at work. This may include everything from answering questions to mentoring someone on-the-job.


When combined with formal training methods, mentorship programs accelerate learning and time to competency. Even if there is no formal program in place, taking time to address a worker’s question or giving a quick tutorial will improve engagement and motivation.

Skills assessments

These industry-specific tests are a great resource for training and evaluating a worker’s job performance. Because skills assessments provide an accurate picture of a worker’s skill level, it gives trainers and supervisors specific knowledge about where to direct their attention. This focused training will make the most of a supervisor’s time while still giving the employee the necessary training for long-term success.

Build a Better Workforce with NBS

Employee management is a big factor for an organization’s continued growth. At NBS, we are here to provide resources to ensure each supervisor and employee has the knowledge and skills to succeed. Whether you need entry level, experienced worker, advanced worker, or custom assessments, our services are designed to help every employee work toward mutual success.