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11 essential qualities and skills for great supervisors

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Successful supervisors know what is going on in their organization. They have knowledge about objectives and plans, their product, organizational hierarchy etc. It is necessary for them to store all this information otherwise they will not know where to look for information about all these matters.

They also possess technical knowledge such as production technology, basic principles of management like planning, organizing, directing, motivating and controlling. But these are not the only qualities and skills a manager, leader or decision maker needs to be successful. In this article you can find 11 attributes every great supervisor needs.

Personal qualities

  • Emotional balance: The supervisor works in situations which involve authority, leadership, meeting targets and deadlines, conflicts etc. The successful supervisor has to be able to maintain emotional balance and self-control so that they may face various situations confidently and successfully.
  • Being proactive: The supervisors have some objectives to achieve. They cannot plan everything in advance. Several times they have to respond to the needs of the situation which has arisen suddenly. The supervisor must also be able to have qualities such as being committed, having a missionary zeal, taking responsibility instead of passing the blame to others.
  • Creativity: It means that the supervisor must have the ability to come up with new responses to situations. They must have new ideas and also be able to recognize a good idea when it comes from another source.
  • Mental agility: The supervisor must have the ability to grasp problems quickly, to think of several things at the same time, and assess the whole situation quickly. In the busy modern world of business this quality is necessary for success.
  • Learning habits: Effective supervisors are independent as learners. They take responsibility for the rightness of what is learned, and are not dependent on others.
  • Self-knowledge: Whatever the supervisor does is affected by their own view of their job and role, objectives, strengths and weaknesses etc. So they must be aware of these attributes. Hence the supervisor must develop skills of looking at himself critically.

Managerial skills

In order to handle their jobs effectively supervisors require a combination of five key managerial skills. These are classified as technical, human, conceptual, diagnostic and political. The first three have been recognized for many years. Diagnostic and political skills have also now received attention as organizations have become more complex.

Technical skill

Technical skill is proficiency in a specific activity that involves methods, processes, procedures or techniques. Individual performers expect their supervisor to be able to help them with technical problems.

Human skill

Human skill is the ability to work with, understand, motivate, and communicate with individuals and groups. Human skill also includes the ability to communicate with people, to resolve conflict, and to discipline. Since the supervisor’s job involves constant interaction with people, human skills are essential.

Conceptual skill

Conceptual skill is the ability to understand abstract or general ideas and apply them to specific situations. Conceptual skill usually means understanding how the total organization can be affected by a specific activity. Although it may not always be apparent, every action taken in an organization has ramifications elsewhere.

Diagnostic skill

Diagnostic skill is the ability to analyze the nature of a problem with people, ideas, things or events. A good diagnosis precedes a recommended solution to a problem (like in medicine or automotive repair or management). Supervisors are frequently called on to size up a problem in order to take appropriate corrective action.

Diagnostic skill overlaps with the other four managerial skills. This occurs because supervisors usually need to use technical, human, conceptual or political skills to make their diagnosis.

Many supervisors regard diagnostic skill as the most exciting part of their jobs. An experienced supervisor expressed it this way: “Figuring out what’s wrong is why I am here. If all problems had a ready solution, you wouldn’t need a supervisor.”

Political skill

Political skill is the ability to acquire the power needed to achieve one’s objective. Specific political skills include being able to win others over to your cause.

Supervisory Skills

If you would like to learn more about management, leadership and more, then Supervisory Skills is the right book for you.

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