Let’s start with understanding the difference between a supervisor and a manager.

You would think that the question: “What’s the difference between a manager and a supervisor?” would have a simple answer. After all, people live day in and day out with titles such as Human Resources Manager or Front-Line Supervisor. There must be a reason why these people have been given these titles, and common sense would tell us that the reason may very well be connected to the tasks specific to those titles. However, the reality is that there is a great deal of confusion and disagreement about the differences between a supervisor and a manager.

supervisor, also known as foremanboss, overseerfacilitatormonitorarea coordinator, or sometimes gaffer, is the job title of a low-level management position that is primarily based on authority over a worker or charge of a workplace

In many organisations – particularly retail, manufacturing and warehousing, the supervisor is responsible for people working under him and their activities.  While a manager is responsible for people and things as well. A supervisor in these environments do not hire or fire employees, but they can recommend it. In contrast to the manager, can hire or fire employees

The challenge is that many organisations are missing one especially important fact: supervision and management are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Ok, now we have established the parameters of a Supervisors, let’s now examine the effects of poor supervision.

Effects of Poor Supervision in the Workplace

Inadequate supervision has far-reaching and dramatic effects on an organisation. Research demonstrates that supervisors have a direct impact on the workplace in 10 significant ways:

  1. Rates of employee retention and turnover
  2. Employee morale when jobs remain open and turnover rates are high
  3. Hidden costs associated with poor hiring and high turnover (lost opportunities, training, recruitment and selection expenses)
  4. Loss of productivity due to high turnover, low morale, low levels of employee engagement
  5. Reduced levels of customer satisfaction and increased levels of customer churn
  6. Decreased revenue as employees who sell or produce goods are demotivated
  7. Inflated expenses (overtime, investigating employee complaints, waste, etc.)
  8. Reduced profitability due to inflated expenses and decreased top-line revenue
  9. Employer brand becomes impaired, resulting in a need to increase hiring and retention efforts in a competitive job market
  10. Low emotional commitment by employees detracts from the company’s ability to achieve goals and attain its Mission and Vision

Any one of these impacts should be cause for concern. Every one of them has serious consequences for businesses that don’t take them seriously. Stagnating and underperforming business often improve when they take steps to develop supervisors in the most basic ways.

Talent and Succession planning

As a supervisory role is a frontline leadership role, it is important that these employees are trained, coached and upskilled to take on these additional responsibilities.  Whilst many facets of the role can be learnt on the job, creating a targeted learning plan for supervisors will help to engage, motivate and retain them.  Skill them correctly, and they become a foundation to succession and talent planning in your business.

Training pathway for Supervisors

Supervisors are incredibly important for a company. They are the front line of the organisation and their role is critical during training. The supervisors need to always:

  • Understand the training that is required by law.
  • Adhere to proper legal practices so that employees can follow them as well.
  • Be comfortable with the organisational policies used and the laws that impact employment.
  • Recognise both applicable and irrelevant laws.
  • Identify the necessary training that employees may need in order to improve the quality of their work.
  • Understand the importance of training with the purpose of developing the skills of the employees and their motivation.
  • Understand the connection between training and company productivity/growth.
  • Know the resources that are available for specific employees.
  • Guarantee that individuals hired by the company receive respectful and fair treatment at all times.
  • Remain committed to protect the rights of both the employer and the employee.

In any company, the supervisor is the representative of the employer. He/she must fully understand all the rights in order to be sure that violations will be avoided. Then, it is necessary to know how to deal with concerns and complaints. Supervisors have the huge responsibility of making sure that all issues that pop up will be resolved before a lawsuit happens or an employee simply quits. The work also includes making employees comfortable with tasks and responsibilities.

A supervisor will require ongoing training to develop the necessary skills, confidence, and knowledge to handle all the human resource-related issues every single day.

Technical skills training often occurs on the job and via task standard operating procedures; however, soft skills training, generally requires a more formalised approach.

Setting your supervisor up for success requires investing in skills such as coaching, providing feedback, time management, performance coaching, and leadership skills.

Your frontline management team are your company’s greatest asset and are essential in achieving your business goals and targets. By enhancing their skill set with targeted Supervision and Leadership Training, you are setting them up for success.

Training benefits

Development programs are going to be useful for the supervisors to properly deal with work responsibilities. A few of the benefits include:

  • Learn how to use new technology and equipment in an efficient and proper way.
  • Develop skills and knowledge that will make the work much more dynamic and productive.
  • Learn how to work so that lawsuits, accidents and fines are avoided.
  • Develop teamwork, communication, and many other skills that will enhance the internal workings of the company.

What do the experts say?

Bloomberg reports that $11 billion is lost annually due to employee turnover, and HR Dive estimates an average cost of 33% of the employee’s salary to replace him or her. At the same time, 63% of companies say they have to pay more because the job market has gotten so competitive (CareerBuilder), so the cost of replacing employees continues to rise.

HR Dive‘s survey found that 75% of employee turnover is preventable (through the direct supervisor). And 78% of employers are worried about a talent shortage but do not take actions, like training supervisors, to prevent turnover (Spherion).

Companies that increase their number of talented/trained managers (vs. untrained) and double the rate of employee engagement because of it achieve, on average, 14.7% higher earnings per share than their competition. Gallup’s study also shows the cause-and-effect of improved supervisor training and employee engagement, the single greatest driver of retention, productivity, customer satisfaction, top-line revenue, managed expenses, and profitability.

The data is clear. Proactively skill your Supervisors and frontline managers (both casuals, fixed term and full time employees, and you will create a positive domino effect of increased engagement, productivity and profit.

What is the cost of not skilling them, really costing your business?