The Five Functions of Supervising

How many supervisors really understand what they are responsible for when they start out on the Trail Boss path? Most are introduced to their staff, told what the goals and objectives are, and then the magic wand is waved to magically ensure success!

The five basic functions of the supervisor are:

Function #1: PLANNING

The first thing a new supervisor needs to learn is how to plan. This includes planning for personal tasks, employee workloads, coaching and developing staff and for implementing corporate goals. There are two basic levels of planning that supervisors are responsible for – long term strategic goals and short term tactile planning. Long term or strategic planning focuses on the big picture, providing a framework from which the team operates. Short term or tactile planning focuses on the daily operations of the team in meeting the long-term goals of the organization.

Function #2: ORGANIZING

Once the long and short-term planning goals are in place, the supervisor needs to organize accordingly. This includes prioritizing the workload based on business goals and then distributing the tasks to team members. There are many planning tools available such as the free newsletter . Delegating is also a valuable part of organizing the workload and can be used to upskill employees and promote career development.

Function #3: RESOURCING

Resourcing is a term used to identify what is needed in order to get the job done.
This includes budget, staff requirements and support networks such as internet and the Human Resources Department. It is important for supervisors to know what resources are available and how to access them. It is recommended that supervisors develop a resource database that can be accessed personally and for employee situations.

Function #4: LEADING

“You manage things, you lead people”. Beyond the tactile duties of the supervisor, leadership is the part that inspires productivity and encourages employee buy-in. According to management consultants Kouzes and Posner, leadership is a combination of five practices that can be learned. These practices combine self-discipline with clear goals and recognition along the way.

The Coaching Connection offers leadership training which includes the work and of Kouzes and Posner. Check our website at

Function #5: MONITORING

Monitoring is the practice of ensuring work is being done according to the plan. There are numerous ways to measure progress including performance contracts/appraisals, monitoring qualitative and quantitative results, client feedback and project management tools/programs. Coaching employees on a regular basis is critical part of monitoring performance, while building trust and developing competencies throughout the performance period.

NB: The Coaching Connection offers training in coaching skills and how to conduct performance appraisals. Check our website at