My (One Line) Supervisor's Job Description

When I first became a supervisor, I sometimes felt like my to-do list was so long that I might never get through it all. So many details. And now I had a staff that I was responsible for.

One thing that helped was changing my perspective from being responsible for them, to being responsible to them.

I simplified my job description from the long list of everyday tasks to this one line:

My job is to make sure that my staff has everything they need to do their jobs.

What this perspective shift did was to take the focus off me. There wasn’t ever going to be a way that I would be able to personally control all the things that they needed to do. Regardless I would have to take the blame for anything that went wrong.

When I started focusing on the staff, my priorities became more evident.

  • Did they have all the materials they needed?

  • Was they equipment they used safe and well-maintained?

  • Were they well trained?

  • Were the rules, goals, and priorities clear to them?

  • Were there any wasted efforts that we could weed out of our processes?

  • Did we work in an atmosphere of mutual consideration and respect?

Granted, this is a pretty healthy list of things to take care of. Supervising is not for the faint of heart! But this subtle change—serving the staff, instead of policing them—made all the difference. I highly recommend it.


Bonus tip:  Make sure your own supervisors have what they need from you, too. Sometimes it’s as simple as doing what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’ll do it. Be generous with your support.