Are Your Supervisors Worth Investing In? Does Annual Investment Match Expectations?

Supervisors are intentionally brought into an organization for metrics, and employees. For the former, a supervisor is given the vast responsibility of tracking, enforcing, and improving employee performance metrics or safety standards. For the latter, a supervisor is required to fit the role of a trainer, coach, counselor, and director. That’s quite a lot of responsibility, especially depending on the number of employees the supervisor is required to manage.

To put it plainly: a supervisor is crucial for the internal growth of a business. Supervisors are the filter through which all information reaches employees. For safety purposes, they’re a necessity for the well-being of your employees. Or, at least, they should be. As with any role, there are a lot of supervisors within any industry that are, at best, stagnant with improvements; and at worst, retrogressive.

So, how do you determine if your supervisors are worth investing in?

Universally, the answer is that your supervisors are always worth investing in. If they aren’t worth investing in, they shouldn’t be supervisors – it’s that simple… and complicated.

See, the determining characteristic of a working supervisor is an increase in specified performance metrics or the improved enforcement of standards. If those metrics are not changing, or worse, regressing, then the supervisor is not doing their job correctly; at least, that’s how leadership often understands it. However, that may not always be the case.

In fact, the blame for an under-performing supervisor could equally be placed on a variety of different things: poor baseline metrics, unrealistic growth standards, or even a lack of investment in the supervisors, themselves. Take this on a case-by-case basis, and really look at the supervisor’s performance and standards.

In nearly every case, your supervisors are worth investing in if they are willing to learn. When you invest in your supervisors and further their own career capabilities, the trickle-down effect is tantamount. If you want a better company, create better supervisors.

For a basic guide on determining whether you should invest in your supervisors, go down the following list of questions and answer YES or NO. Keep track of where you begin to answer NO:

  1. Are your standards realistic in comparison with average industry growth metrics?
  2. Are your standards realistic in comparison with your actual company growth from the past 5 years?
  3. Are your standards for employee performance metrics actually quantifiable and in-line with company growth standards?
  4. Is the supervisor actively and frequently engaged with employees?
  5. Has the supervisor suggested improvements to employee performance, metrics, or processes?
  6. Are employee performance metrics stable or improving?
  7. Does the supervisor express a willingness to learn?

If you answered NO to any of the first 3 questions, then you can’t accurately begin to gauge a supervisor’s effectiveness. You will need to go back to the drawing board to create accurate and realistic standards to gauge. 

If you answered NO to #4, then you should consider investing in employee engagement training for your supervisor.

If you answered NO to #5, consider discussing with your supervisor whether or not they are actively improving their processes. If you answered NO to #5 AND #6, then the supervisor may be neglecting their responsibilities. This could be a result of their own negligence – but there may be external factors involved i.e. harassment, family tragedies, or a lack of understanding. Have an open-ended dialogue with this supervisor to understand the root cause. Give them a chance to bounce back and show they can perform to the required standards before taking serious action.

If you answered NO to #7, then it might be time to evaluate alternative options. In many cases, supervisors are promoted through the organization – the best front-line employee gets promoted to supervisor. However, that individual may prefer to remain a front-line employee instead of being the supervisor. Again, have an open-ended discussion with this individual to determine the best course of action.

In general, supervisors are one of the most important roles in the organization; yet, they receive the least investment. Consider a development program for your supervisors to help them learn the soft-skills of leadership. Developing supervisors into leaders – and in particular, safety leaders – can increase employee engagement, and decrease injuries.

If you are ready to begin investing in the development of your own safety supervisors, do not hesitate to reach out to us by phone at 630.759.9908 or by email at