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Supervisor Job Duties and Requirements

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A supervisor oversees the work of his employees, ensuring that they follow the company’s procedures and maintains its policies. Supervisor duties depend on the type and size of the employer. In large establishments, a supervisor might be in charge of an entire department, while in smaller establishments he might be in charge of all supervisory responsibilities for a department, as well as ensuring that a product or service generates revenue.

Retail Supervisors

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Supervisors in retail establishments make sure that customers receive satisfactory service; if customers have any complaints or inquiries, the supervisor usually deals with them. Supervisors in large retail stores are usually assigned to one department and are referred to as shift supervisors, department managers or sales managers. They oversee the activities of other employees, such as the cashiers, store clerks and sales representatives. Supervisors are responsible for conducting interviews, hiring, delegating responsibilities and training new staff. They prepare work schedules, establish and implement policies, and review inventory and sales records. Supervisors manage the cleaning of the store and the organization of the shelves. They make sure that items are properly displayed and check the inventories in the stockroom to ensure that none of the items are beyond their sell-by date. Supervisors organize and coordinate sales promotions and welcome customers to promote good public relations.

Production Supervisors

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Production supervisors manage the production line in accordance with the procedure of the plant or company. They work with the human resources department to make sure that staffing needs are met and train production-line workers. Supervisors ensure that the work area is clean and safe; coordinate the shutdown, start-up and changeover of production; and conduct shift meetings.


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Supervisors usually gain knowledge of the job through work experience. Sales supervisors begin their careers as salespersons, cashiers or customer-service representatives. Many supervisors are employed based on previous experience in sales-related occupations. Supervisors in manufacturing plants must have knowledge of the manufacturing process, machinery and procedure. All supervisors must have basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills, usually acquired by completing high school and receiving a high school diploma. Supervisors should be able to set goals and meet them, have good public-relations skills, and show initiative and good judgment. Supervisors should also be able to motivate and direct their employees.