Supervision Matters: Why Good Supervisors Shouldn’t Be Unicorns


"Supervision Matters: 100 Bite-Sized Ideas to Transform You and Your Team" is the book your leadership needs if your business suffers from a "bad supervisor" problem. Written by a coach who specializes in supervision, the book takes supervision down its core and shows why it's not the same thing as leadership.

Supervision Matters: Why Good Supervisors Shouldn't Be Unicorns

If you buy something through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

As the author of Supervision Matters points out, supervising, managing, and leading are often lumped together in one confusing mass of knowledge. Promotions to supervisors are often given on the assumption that a good manager will also be a good supervisor. Yet, a good manager doesn’t always make a good supervisor (just ask any employee!). As Rita Sever discusses in the book, “Supervision is a part of management, but it is not the same thing.”

Supervision Matters seeks to establish the qualities of a good supervisor before it’s too late.

What is Supervision Matters is About?

Supervision Matters focuses on the unspoken assumptions we have about supervision, particularly that supervision is an innate behavior. Rita Sever, a coach and consultant who works with supervisors, hones in on these assumptions throughout the book and the impact these assumptions can have on employees. Bad supervisors aren’t a mild nuisance, however. They have a big impact on the business. Sever shares in the book: “Studies show that supervision matters. To most people their supervisor is the organization.” This perception of the “supervisor as the organization” has an impact on employee morale and loyalty.

Creating good supervisors isn’t a simple matter of holding a workshop and releasing your supervisor back into the wild. As the entire book points out, good supervision is more about developing the interpersonal skills that facilitate, rather than disrupt the workplace. Supervisors are more than paid taskmasters and problem-fixers and their ability to work with their subordinates has a huge impact on the overall business.

What kind of training does Supervision Matters endorse? The book focus on the “soft skills” like intentional communication, encouraging positive and proactive feedback, conflict, and stress management. These kinds of things aren’t focused on in great detail (Again,because people often supervisors already have these skills); yet, as Sever points out in various examples, these are the skills that supervisors often need the most help on. Supervisors who can’t handle conflict in a straightforward and facilitating manner will disrupt their team, no matter how technically skilled they are. Supervisors need both technical and “people” skills in order to move a team forward. Without both types of skills, good supervisors are like unicorns in a sea of bad supervisors.

Rita Sever is a coach, consultant, trainer, and professor with specialties in supervision and organizational psychology and over 20 years of experience in Human Resources.

What Was Best About Supervision Matters?

The best part of Supervision Matters is the focus on the core “soft skills” of supervision that don’t often get a lot of attention in leadership books.To the book’s credit, Rita Sever points out that supervision and leadership are related, but require distinct skill sets. This awareness, by itself, is revolutionary in the growing tide of business books that attempts to lump leadership, supervision, and management into a confusing mess.

The book is also simple, down-to-Earth, and conversational.

What Could Have Been Done Differently

While covering the fundamentals of good supervision, the book lacks a thorough training program for supervisors who recognize they help. Readers might come away from their book with a heightened idea of where they might need a change, along with a suggestion or two, but there isn’t a comprehensive address to consistently address those flaws.

Why Read Supervision Matters?

Supervision Matters sparks an obvious, but important, conversation that leaders need to have about that their supervisors. As Rita Sever points out, supervision (especially front-line) has a direct impact on the survival of your business. That kind of impact needs to be taken seriously, at a deeper level than what is currently done. If you’re ready to begin that journey, then this book is where you want to start.

Get discounts and special offers on new and classic business books with an Audible Premium Plus membership. Learn more and sign up for an account today.

Charles Franklin Charles Franklin is a Book Reviewer for Small Business Trends. He has a background as a professional reviewer, and is also a content provider and customer relations professional.