There are several positions of management, but the front-line supervisor is usually the person responsible to be the “Safety Leader,” teaching employees all about safety, as well as the other aspects of their job tasks.  It is his or her job to be sure each employee understands the importance of safety in the workplace, and to ensure that they all go home at the end of their workday.  Although there may be a safety chairman and committee at your place of work, the supervisor is usually the one that has the technical skills to teach workers how to go about their work responsibilities.  By combining their human skills, and conceptual workplace skills, supervisors play a vital role in the success of the employees and company.  How would you grade your supervisor?  If you listed the traits of the best supervisor that you have ever worked under, what would your description be? 

Most of us would judge our past or present supervisors on human skills.  Here are several that we look for and appreciate:

  • Honesty
  • Sincerity
  • Motivation
  • Innovation
  • Good communication skills
  • Shows respect
  • Ensures workers’ safety
  • Concern for employees balancing work and home priorities
  • Gives credit to those who deserve praise on their job performance
  • Gives advice privately to those who need a little help

Conceptual workplace skills that leaders show include:

  • Organization
  • Job preparation
  • Using good logic
  • Good decision making
  • Fairly evaluating employees
  • Recognizing employees’ ideas for change that would improve the workplace routine or make things safer. 

A good leader can add these abilities to  technical expertise to ensure a safer, high-performance workplace, and hopefully, fewer near misses and mistakes leading to injury.  Supervisors are the ones with the authority and availability to ensure safe work practices by evaluating work conditions, safe behavior, and workers’ skill levels. 

Supervisors  should also ensure that the facility is OSHA compliant, and work with employees to see that unsafe acts are eliminated.  If workers know that their company strives to keep them safe and healthy, they are going to be inspired to do a good job by producing quality products and offering good service.  All companies want not just a “good safety” program, but a “great safety” program with a goal of O% injuries.

Many supervisors or co-workers do not serve as good role models, and can be reminders of what we don’t want to be like.  Bosses that put employees down, take the credit for others’ accomplishments, yell at people, and complain all the time, are actually displaying ways we should never behave.  The one thing they do teach us, is to never treat others the way they treat their co-workers.

If given the chance to answer a questionnaire (anonymously) about their supervisor, what grade would he or she be given?  It wouldn’t be a personality quiz, only a way for employees to let the company know if they have been well taught about safety and other aspects of their job, based on the quality of their leadership.  Supervisors evaluate  their employees for annual wage increases or other reasons.  Maybe it’s time the employees get to do a little evaluating.  Soon, we’ll look at how employees are graded, and the traits that employers are looking for in good workers.