Supervisor, Manager, Director? Leadership your tree care company

As your business expands from one to four, to fifty employees there is a need to establish some layers of responsibility amongst your leadership team. Its best to clarify these layers with job descriptions. The terms supervisor, manager and director are common titles, but what are the differences between the three?

If you are not sure, don’t be embarrassed. There are a lot of similarities but each has a clear definition and knowing the difference is vital if you’re planning on hiring someone to oversee a crew or department.

The title of “supervisor” is often one of the first managerial positions within a company hierarchy. Often supervisors are promoted from within, rather than hired from outside. He or she is typically a high-performer who has been with the company long enough to be intimately familiar with both the company policies and the quality of work expected from the rest of the team.

Supervisors generally oversee a group of people in similar jobs, who are doing similar work. Their role is assigning work and keeping employees on track. Supervisors usually plan work daily to meet project objects and deadlines provided to them by a manager. Supervisors are often hands on and assist with training new employees.

Managers manage resources — whether financial, material, or personnel. Managers have decision-making capabilities regarding those resources. They determine what equipment and materials to purchase, establish project deadlines and who and when to hire and fire employees.

Because the responsibilities are greater, managers need to have more insight into the broader operations. They make sure work is performed within the policies and procedures of the company. A manager allocates resources to meet company goals. Depending on the size of the company, a manager may oversee employees directly, or oversee a team of supervisors.

Management positions require additional experience and often education and training. In most organizations, a manager is tasked with day-to-day concerns. For example, a manager may be more involved in overseeing employees and supervising the implementation of team or company-wide initiatives. The manager is the one with a hand on the wheel, keeping everyone on the right course. Managers are expected to encourage, mentor, discipline and evaluate employees on a frequent basis.

The planning horizon for managers is typically one week to a year.

A director is a manager of managers. A director is focused on implementation of company-wide initiatives. This position is tasked with formulating what will be next on the company or division’s agenda. Rather than having a hand on the wheel, the director is charting the course to come, before delivering instructions for managers to carry out. Directors formulate a vision of what success will look like.

A director is responsible for examining and evaluating the organization’s process. Where are the shortfalls? Where are the bottlenecks? Where is the system working and where is it failing? The director is tasked with solving these challenges. Directors are responsible for long term planning. The horizon is typically one to three years out.

For the small tree care company owner, you may be all three, however, the key for you is to understand you are responsible for both day to day and long-term planning. Make sure you take time to look to the future. Planning to hire the right people to take over the role of supervisor and manager will ultimately free up your time to do director level work, which is the key to successfully growing your company and profits.

If you want your company’s leaders (managers, crew leads, etc.) to grow professional and truly become extraordinary, check out ArboRisk’s Thrive Leadership Development Package! Our experts will work with your leaders one-on-one to build their leadership skills, thereby increasing team loyalty, efficiency, and profitability.

Written by: Jim Skiera