Developing Supervisor Skills


In the next article in this series on how to be a good supervisor, Tommy Taylor talks about the various skills one must develop


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Facilities Management
June 8, 2021
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Developing Supervisor Skills

It is crucial to prepare yourself to be a good supervisor. For that, introspection is important. What kind of questions do you feel you would like to have answered from day one of your employment or the start of a new contract as a supervisor? What kind of service can a customer expect from you? Are you a hands-on supervisor or a delegator?

Your customers will expect you to deliver on many different levels. They will want you to

be able to make instant decisions and be able to think on your feet. You will need to understand their business and the people who work within it or use it. Your customers will expect you to be in the background but effective when the chips are down.

Scope of work

The first task is to identify the scope of work.  In our industry we sometimes measure output and performance based on a Scope of Work. This term usually refers to the section of a contract or agreement where all expected tasks and deliverables are explained with the purpose of aligning expectations between both parties (contractor and client). What does Scope of Work mean? The scope of work, which is commonly known as the SOW, is a common term in the cleaning industry. It clearly documents the below image.


It may be prepared by the client or their consultants and included in tender documentation for cleaning activities. The nature of the scope of work can vary significantly from contract to contract. Sometimes it will simply offer a broad description of the works required, whilst sometimes it provides a complete description of a task, significant milestones, a programme of work with the expected timeframes for delivery, reports, deliverables, roles, responsibilities, and outcomes that are to be provided.

A scope of work can be a useful way of agreeing broad contractual requirements for both the client and supplier. However, errors or inconsistencies with other contract documentation can lead to confusion and uncertainties which are often cited as a cause of disputes.

It is common for changes to be required to the scope of work after the contract has been awarded. Most forms of contract make provisions for the contract administrator to instruct reasonable variations which may give rise to additions or deductions from the contract sum, however, these variations must not change the nature of the works themselves.

The nature of the scope of work can vary significantly from contract to contract.

What are the key pointers?

  • Contract objectives: What are the terms of the contracts. Input or output
  • Specification: Apart from keeping a surface clean, what other expectations are there?
  • Terms, conditions, and requirements: Define the terms you will use in the SOW and any conditions or requirements that are not already made clear.
  • Standard Operating Procedure (SOP): These are a set of step-by-step instructions compiled by the contractor to help operations staff carry out a cleaning
  • Task/instruction: SOPs aim to achieve efficiency, quality output and uniformity of performance, while reducing miscommunication which could lead to a failure to comply with client requirements.
  • Schedule/Milestones: When is the contract starting and when does it need to be finished by? What are the major milestones or phases of the contract that you will be able to track and measure progress by?
  • Individual Tasks: What exactly needs to get done to go from where you are now to a finished task?
  • Deliverables: What do you need at the end of the task? Will the client need to inspect the task with or without you present? What happens if things do not go to plan, and the desired outcome does not meet contractual requirements.
  • Payment Information: Is it a one off or periodic task, how much is the project going to cost?

The next is to understand how you can work on your own skills to fulfill the above.

A static supervisor can be an ineffective one.

As the supervisor, you will be working in buildings of differing sizes. You will need to be contactable no matter where you are. Your company can help you with this. In some cases, a two-way radio link or mobile phone would be adequate. The one thing that you would want to avoid is the fixed-line telephone. If you are at the end of a fixed telephone, then you may be lacking in the ability to supervise your staff and the site; to be honest, that is and should be the main part of your role.

Therefore, to sum up for customer service, you will need to look at some of the areas below to help you and your team succeed and meet your company’s objectives.

  • Present a positive image of yourself and your company
  • Promote your company and customers services
  • Make regular, meaningful contact and communication with customers
  • Deliver a service that meets your company and customers’ expectations
  • Regularly monitor and improve services
  • Train and retrain staff
  • Maintain a good standard of customer service and try to evaluate where possible
  • Resolve customer problems efficiently
  • Promote good customer relationship

Train yourself and your staff

Although you may have received training, what about the staff below you? Do you understand the needs of the customer? Do you understand the customer’s business and the people who work within it? Do you understand the difficulties of dealing with customer complaints and dealing with customers who may become angry or aggressive?

A good training programme and continual training should be employed. Teach them (subordinates) the basics of what is required. Build their confidence and allow them to express themselves, without losing focus on the job in hand. Periodically, conduct a short toolbox talk session to ensure that they are still giving out a positive message and maintaining the correct message from previous training.

You do not need to spy on your colleagues/staff, but it can be effective if you stand back and look at how they handle situations that they may face. Look at their body language. Are they smiling, do they make eye contact? Do they go that extra mile for someone who has posed a question that is slightly more challenging than normal?

If you have provided training and things are still not going right, what should a good supervisor look for? Often, the root cause of what could be perceived as a lack of skill or unwillingness to

learn is the result of a work environment that does not reward going above and beyond to provide excellent service. Try providing your team with some clear guidelines for what you expect and some examples of what great customer service looks like, and as you do it, make sure that

you are celebrating those small wins as you see people starting to use these skills.

Who are your potential customers?

  • Customer
  • Employees of the Customer and key suppliers for your customers' services
  • Suppliers; postman, delivery drivers, service contractors
  • Government Agencies (HSE etc), council employees
  • Internal Departments
  • General public
  • Your colleagues who may visit your customers' site as a sub-service.

The list is not exhaustive and can be expanded upon depending on your business.

In our next article we will talk about customer relations and communications.


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