Skills and Practices in Organizational Supervision

© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.
Adapted from the Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision in Business and Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision for Nonprofit Staff.

(This page is referenced from Basic Overview of Supervision and Supervisoral Development.)

NOTE: The following areas of knowledge and skills are typically mentioned among those that should be mastered by supervisors. Note that supervision is a management role -- areas of knowledge and skills required by new managers often include those required by new supervisors.

NOTE: The Basic Guide to Management and Supervision includes overviews of each of the following areas of knowledge and skills, along with links to additional, advanced and free information. Many of the following links are to section of the Guide. Therefore, the reader should consider printing out the Guide for ongoing reference to understand areas of knowledge and skills required by new supervisors and managers.

Sections of This Topic Include

Using the Following Lists
Core Skills in Management and Supervision
Designing the Organization and Staff
Employee Training
Employee Performance Management
Personnel Policies

Additional Information for Nonprofits

Additional Knowledge Areas and Skills Required by Nonprofit Supervisors

Also see
Related Library Topics

Also See the Library’s Blogs Related to Supervision

In addition to the articles on this current page, see the following blogs which have posts related to Supervision. Scan down the blog's page to see various posts. Also see the section “Recent Blog Posts” in the sidebar of the blog or click on “next” near the bottom of a post in the blog.

Library's Leadership Blog
Library's Training and Development Blog

Using the Following Lists

Some Disagreement About Competencies Need by Supervisors

Most people will agree on what key knowledge, skills and abilities are required to drive a car -- this is not the case with supervisor training. Introductory courses, workshops and seminars on supervision can include a wide range of topics and depend very much on what the designer of the training program believes supervisors should know. These beliefs can vary widely, particularly because: a) trainers have varying opinions about roles of supervisors; and b) the nature of today's workplace is changing to include more, eg, self-managed teams, emphasis on leadership, diversity management, performance management, etc.

Some Misunderstandings About Competencies Needed by Supervisors

There are often misunderstandings about the role of supervisors, for example, people mistakenly believe that supervision occurs only with entry-level workers. This belief is incorrect. Chief Executive Officers are supervisors of Chief Financial Officers, and middle-line managers are supervisors of first-line managers, etc.

Also, trainers can forget that supervisors are seldom only responsible for supervision. Too often, supervision is carried out "in the background", secondary to getting a product or service out the door. Consequently, supervisory training programs sometimes neglect to include key skills, such as handling burnout, stress management, time management, etc.

Don't Get Hung Up On Categories -- Different People Will Categorize Topics Differently

If the reader had the opportunity to review a wide variety of supervisoral development programs, he or she would notice a wide variety of approaches to categorizing topics. Don't get hung up on the "right" way to categorize the following topics.

Core Skills in Management and Supervision

Problem Solving and Decision Making
Basics of Internal Communications
Meeting Management
Managing Yourself

Designing the Organization and Staff

Designing the Organization and Staff


Defining a New Job Role
Hiring (Advertising, Screening and Selecting)
Building Teams

Employee Training

Orienting New Employees
Job Training

Employee Performance Management

Setting Goals
Supporting Employee Motivation
Observing and Giving Feedback
Conducting Performance Appraisals/Reviews
Addressing Performance Problems
Firing Employees

Personnel Policies

Developing Personnel Policies
Developing an Employee Manual
Sample List of Personnel Policies

Additional Knowledge and Skills Required in Nonprofit Management

Public Policy
Volunteer Management

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Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.

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