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The primary roles of manufacturing supervisors are to oversee their employees and ensure the effectiveness of the production process. They are responsible for the amount of work and the quality of work being done by the employees under their direction. Supervisors make work schedules, keep production and employee records, and plan on-the-job activities. Their work is highly interpersonal. They not only monitor employees, but also guide workers in their efforts and discipline and counsel poor performers as well as recommend valuable employees for raises and promotions. They ensure that safety regulations and other rules and procedures are being followed.
In monitoring production and output levels, manufacturing supervisors must keep in mind the company's limitations, such as budgetary allowances, time constraints, and any workforce shortages. They must be realistic about the abilities of their employees and set production schedules accordingly. Supervisors may use mathematical calculations and test various production methods to reach high production levels while still maintaining the quality of the product.
Manufacturing supervisors may be employed by small companies, such as custom furniture shops, or large industrial factories, such as automotive plants. Supervisors answer to company managers, who direct them on production goals and set budgets. Another important part of the supervisor's job is to act as a liaison between factory workers and company managers who are in charge of production. Supervisors announce new company policies and plans to the workers in their charge and report to their managers about any problems they may be having or other important issues. Supervisors also may meet with other company supervisors to discuss progress toward company objectives, department operations, and employee performance. In companies where employees belong to labor unions, supervisors must know and follow all work-related guidelines outlined by labor-management contracts.