How to Communicate with Your Supervisor

How to Communicate with Your Supervisor


Good communication with your supervisor is important to both of you. There are five important aspects to remember when communicating with your supervisor:

  • You must be able to follow instructions.
  • You need to know how to ask questions.
  • You should report any problems and results of your work.
  • You should accurately record and give messages to your supervisor.
  • You need to discuss your job performance.

Following instructions is important at all times, but especially during your training period. Your supervisor will be watching to see how well you do this. Use your senses to follow instructions correctly.

Concentrate. Focus your attention on the supervisor. Don’t be distracted by noise and movement.

Listen. Pay attention to the words being spoken. If you hear unfamiliar words or terms, ask for clarification. Listening also means interpreting body language, voice inflections, and gestures. If this nonverbal communication is confusing, ask the supervisor to clarify what you don’t understand. Watch. Sometimes a supervisor demonstrates how a task is performed. If necessary, ask the supervisor to repeat the process until you understand it completely. Sometimes a task may be too complex or time-consuming to demonstrate. In such cases, you probably will receive general instructions. If there are details you don’t understand, ask for guidance to continue the task.

Question. After you have listened and watched, ask questions. A good supervisor will encourage you to ask questions. It’s better to ask a question than to make a mistake because you didn’t understand.

Write. Write down in a small notebook the important points to remember about the instructions you get. Don’t write while your supervisor is talking or demonstrating something. Do it at a break in the instructions.

Practice. With your supervisor’s permission, perform the task. Make sure you have fully completed the job. This may include putting tools away or cleaning up your work area. Don’t leave your work partially completed.

From the book titled, Job Savvy, How to Be a Success at Work, by LaVerne L. Ludden, Ed.D. Used with permission of the publisher. Additional photocopies strictly prohibited.