Supervisor vs Manager Roles: The Main Differences

There are currently 32.5 million small businesses operating in the United States. This accounts for 99.9 percent of all companies in the United States.

Becoming a business owner is a rewarding and challenging career, and it requires you to understand every aspect of your business. From business operations to the people in the roles that keep your business thriving, it is up to you to be the expert in all areas.

One part that you may not be as aware of is the difference between certain roles, such as supervisor vs. manager roles. Many people think they are the same, but they are actually quite different, both being imperative to a successful business.

To learn more about this crucial difference, keep reading below.

The Hierarchy of Supervisors vs. Managers

To understand the difference between supervisors and managers, it helps to start by learning the hierarchy.

Managers have more authority than supervisors. They are considered a middle-level management position, while supervisors are considered a lower-level management position.

Managers are involved in critical decision-making for the company, while supervisors focus more on executing specific tasks.

Managers typically report to a director or vice president, and supervisors usually report to managers.

Managers generally have the authority to hire, promote, and dismiss employees. Supervisors do not have this authority but do have the power to recommend an employee’s promotion or dismissal.

Typical operations would see a manager creating a plan approved by a senior team member, such as the vice president. The manager will then give this plan to the supervisor, who will assign tasks to employees to carry out the manager’s plan.

Supervisors can’t change the manager’s plan, but they do influence the team’s motivation and performance.

Generally, the supervisor will be the employees’ first point of contact. They should feel comfortable having open communication with their supervisor.

If the supervisor cannot solve the issue, it would be brought to the manager. If the manager can’t solve the problem either, it would be brought to Human Resources or another senior team member.

The Difference in Responsibilities

The main difference in responsibilities in these leadership roles comes down to delegation—managers delegate tasks to supervisors, who then delegate tasks to employees.

A supervisor is in charge of the day-to-day tasks of the team. This includes ensuring the employees are executing their tasks correctly and efficiently. They must be providing excellent service to their customers.

Supervisors make sure their employees manage their time effectively and are being compensated and recognized for their superb work.

Supervisors must thoroughly understand the work that the employees do so they can fill in any gaps and create contingency plans. They must be able to evaluate their employees’ work and provide helpful feedback.

Other responsibilities that come with being a supervisor include:

  • Training new employees
  • Handling employee conflicts
  • Managing workflow

A manager is responsible for ensuring that all employees are accomplishing the company’s goals and contributing to the success of the company. A manager must be able to provide overall direction and lead the supervisors and employees to success.

A manager will generally meet with their company’s leadership team so they can understand all of the company’s goals that they must meet. They also typically help with budget insight and will receive feedback on how their department is doing.

Other management duties include:

  • Evaluating the performance of employees
  • Conducting performance reviews
  • Managing all of the money, materials, and machinery in their department

The Difference in Objectives

In a supervisor role, the objectives mostly surround the employees. A supervisor will focus on having good communication with their employees to help prioritize the company’s goals.

A supervisor’s objectives often include:

  • Improving employee retention
  • Reducing absences
  • Performing performance reviews

Generally, a supervisor’s goals will focus internally within their department or team.

On the other hand, a manager’s objectives deal more with driving business growth within the company. They will help to develop strategies that help to improve the development of the business.

Manager goals include making sure their team is using resources correctly and within budget so that they are making a profit. They should be creating strategies that help produce long-term gains and promote the business’s sustainability.

The Difference in Salaries

Typically, a team manager will make more money than a supervisor. This is because they have more responsibility, which also means they are held more accountable.

The average base salary for a manager in the United States is $64,997. Keep in mind that manager roles can vary significantly based on the different industries.

Managers are often offered:

  • Health insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • 401(k) matching
  • Employee stock purchases
  • Paid time off

The average base salary for a supervisor in the United States is $46,054.

Supervisors are also often offered:

  • Health insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Paid time off

If you are looking to hire a supervisor for your team, make sure to use this supervisor skill test to ensure you find the most competent candidate.

Know the Difference Between Supervisor vs. Manager Roles

Understanding the difference between supervisor vs. manager roles is essential for your business. You want to make sure your team is organized correctly, and both managers and supervisors can make your workflow go much more smoothly.

It’s important to recognize each individual’s contribution to your company, which is why understanding each role thoroughly is essential.

If you are looking for more business-related articles, check out the rest of our blog posts!