10 Crucial Skills Supervisors Need to Have

10 Crucial Skills Supervisors Need to Have
8 Crucial Soft Skills Supervisors Need to Have soft skills training topics for employees

Soft skills are essential for successful professional development. According to research by Stanford Research Center, Harvard University, and the Carnegie Foundation, 85% of long-term job success depends on well-developed soft and people skills.

The benefits of having employees with strong soft skills include better customer service, improved communications and team interactions, stronger relationships, and increased efficiency.

Here are 10 crucial soft skills supervisors need to have:

SkillImportance for Supervisors

1. Communication

Strong communication skills are important for supervisors to clearly convey expectations, goals, and feedback to their team.

2. Conflict Resolution

Supervisors need to resolve conflicts quickly and find common ground to maintain a positive and productive workplace.

3. Leadership

Leadership skills empower supervisors to inspire, guide, and motivate their teams, ensuring a positive and goal-oriented work environment.

4. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking allows supervisors to analyze complex situations, make informed decisions, and solve problems effectively.

5. Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills enable supervisors to build strong relationships within their teams.

6. Time and Priority Management

Time management skills are essential for supervisors to efficiently balance multiple tasks and priorities, ultimately leading to higher team productivity and project success.

7. Respecting Diversity and Generational Differences in the Workplace

Supervisors must understand and appreciate diversity to create an inclusive environment that values varied perspectives and experiences.

8. Problem Solving

Effective supervisors are good at identifying and resolving issues quickly, preventing small problems from escalating into larger ones.

9. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) is important for understanding and managing your emotions and the emotions of others. EI helping supervisors to respond empathetically to team needs.

10. Coaching and Development

Continual coaching and development skills enable supervisors to support and enhance their team members’ growth, leading to improved performance and job satisfaction.

1. Communication Skills

The statistics are alarming. According to a survey by Fierce, Inc., 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.

The importance of strong collaboration and communication among team members cannot be understated. Having excellent communication skills allows supervisors to speak with impact, whether it be off-the-cuff dialogue or brief updates to their team. 

Supervisors need to express clear expectations and use nonverbal strategies to improve conversations and ensure successful outcomes.

Additionally, giving and receiving feedback is a critical part of communication skills. When using the right techniques, feedback can be used to reinforce or change behavior.

2. Conflict Resolution Skills

Conflict occurs when change happens and stances differ. When a supervisor has the ability to manage conflict well, issues come to resolutions and successful relationships are developed.

A supervisor’s ability to define and identify conflict styles, causes, and methods for handling conflict can improve the department’s or organization’s productivity.

According to CPP’s Global Human Capital Report, where [conflict] training exists, it adds value. Over 95% of people receiving training as part of leadership development or on formal external courses said that it helped them in some way. A quarter (27%) said it made them more comfortable and confident in managing disputes and 58% of those who have been trained say they now look for win–win outcomes from conflict.

Leadership skills represented by chess pieces

3. Leadership Skills

Supervisors with leadership skills help bring accountability to their teams by creating a supportive and motivating work environment.

Leaders are able to delegate and manage a wide variety of skill sets. It is important for supervisors to lead their teams in the most effective way by recognizing where the strengths are, where improvement is needed, and how to properly use the skillsets of each team member.

One of the roles of an effective leader is to inspire their team and handle failure constructively. Inspiration fuels motivation and engagement, and it’s often correlated with high performance and innovation.

Handling failure constructively, on the other hand, turns setbacks into learning opportunities, fostering an environment where risk-taking is encouraged and mistakes are viewed as part of the growth process.

Supervisors can help their team deal with failure constructively by implementing regular ‘learning sessions’ or ‘failure forums.’ In these sessions, team members share experiences of setbacks or failures in a non-judgmental setting, discussing what was learned and how it can be applied in the future.

This practice not only creates a culture of continuous learning but also reinforces the idea that failures are valuable experiences for individual and team growth. These sessions reinforce resilience over perfection, inspiring the team to experiment and innovate without the fear of retribution for mistakes.

4. Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking is a crucial skill in understanding how to methodically, strategically, and collaboratively make decisions, solve problems, and foster innovation.

A study by Pearson notes that “the higher up the ladder a position is, the more essential critical thinking becomes.”

A supervisor with critical thinking skills has the ability to develop a step-by-step process from targeting the problem to developing a solution.

Critical thinking also helps in situations in which groups have different thinking styles and need a collaborative environment created to successfully work through issues.

Interpersonal skills identified by a speech bubble made out of paper

5. Interpersonal Skills

Different from communication skills, interpersonal skills are important for a supervisor to identify and build a purposeful team culture within an organization.

Interpersonal skills enable an individual to develop highly effective teams that are built upon consensus, effective meetings, social style understanding and relationships.

6. Time and Priority Management Skills

Supervisors with time and priority management skills can boost productivity and efficiency.

Being able to balance a heavy workload and time constraints while managing and delegating other employees and projects is an essential skill.

It is ideal for supervisors to understand what is urgent and what is important.

The University of Georgia conducted a study that found people who practice good management techniques often find that they are more productive, feel less stressed, get more things done, have more energy, and feel better about themselves.

Supervisors with time and priority management skills are able to understand the differences in employee’s time and priority management and adjust projects and workloads to ensure success.

7. Respecting Diversity and Generational Differences in the Workplace

The University of Florida studied workplace diversity and found that “respecting individual differences will benefit the workplace by creating a competitive edge and increasing work productivity. Diversity management benefits associates by creating a fair and safe environment where everyone has access to opportunities and challenges.”

It is crucial for supervisors to have the ability to be aware of workplace diversity and understand the gaps and differences that exist as well as their impact.

Being aware of diversity issues helps supervisors appreciate the different experiences and places value on the impact it has on the workplace.

Problem solving skills, characterized by a magnetic question mark

8. Problem Solving Skills

Good problem-solving skills are fundamentally important within the workplace.

Harvard Business Review says that “As a leader, it’s rarely your responsibility to solve a problem single-handedly, so it’s crucial to know how to empower employees to work together to find the best solution.”

A valuable supervisor is someone who not only knows how to take an issue and find the root of the real problem but also has a process for solving the problem in a structured manner. Supervisors with excellent problem-solving skills can greatly benefit any organization.

9. Emotional Intelligence

Supervisors equipped with emotional intelligence skills are better positioned to understand and respond effectively to their team members’ emotions. This includes recognizing and interpreting both the verbal and non-verbal cues of their team members, which allows for a more empathetic and responsive approach to management. Understanding the emotional landscape of a team can lead to more effective communication, improved conflict resolution, and a stronger team dynamic.

Flexibility in changing situations is a critical component of emotional intelligence in supervision. Situations in the workplace can change rapidly, and a supervisor’s ability to adapt their approach based on the emotional needs of their team members can be important for maintaining productivity and morale.

This flexibility often means recalibrating strategies, shifting goals, or even altering leadership styles to suit the changing dynamics of the team and the work environment. 

Coaching characterized by an arrow to the right in concrete

10. Coaching and Development

A supervisor’s role as a coach or mentor is important to supporting staff development and uncovering growth opportunities within a team. Effective coaching skills can help supervisors guide their employees toward continued skill development and career growth. Mentoring involves more than just teaching; it’s about inspiring and motivating team members to explore new possibilities and avenues for growth.

When supervisors coach employees, they focus on developing the individual’s strengths and identifying areas for improvement, setting realistic and challenging goals, and providing consistent, constructive feedback.

The journey of a supervisor is one of continuous growth and adaptation. The skills we’ve shared here are foundational, but equally important is an “always learning” attitude. Supervisors who commit to continuous learning and adapting are better equipped to navigate the challenges of the workplace, lead their teams effectively, and drive success.

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