The Difference Between Production Worker and Supervisor


Nearly every manufacturing environment uses a form of hierarchy. Workers report to supervisors, supervisors report to managers, and managers report to senior leaders or company owners.

The structure ensures various operations and decisions are handled at the right level, an approach that, when properly implemented, can enhance productivity. Senior leaders aren’t burdened with small issues on the floor that don’t require their attention, as supervisors and managers can properly address those concerns. Similarly, workers aren’t stuck waiting for the company owner to be available to handle a simple issue.

However, beyond being placed on a different tier on the organizational chart, there are a few fundamental differences between supervisors. Here’s what you need to know.

Production Worker

Production workers play an integral part in a company’s operations. They handle the tasks that allow a product to be created, such as assembling pieces, crafting components, and similar activities.

Often, production workers spend a lot of their time working with their hands as well as making use of machines, tools, and other equipment. The jobs are nearly always physical in nature, even if they don’t require heavy lifting.

Additionally, production workers usually spend most, if not all, of their day on the production floor. Rarely does the work take them into an office environment, though it may occur occasionally.

Even leads have more in common with production workers than supervisors in the majority of cases. While they may guide the activities of their co-workers or offer assistance if a problem arises, they don’t typically have a substantial amount of decision-making authority. For example, they usually don’t have the ability to hire or fire team members, approve leave requests, or similar activities that are more managerial in nature.

Production Supervisor

Usually falling into the lower to mid-level management ranks, depending on the environment, production supervisors do have some amount of decision-making authority. They directly oversee, and are often responsible for, a group of employees, typically production workers.

Production supervisors have the ability to make specific assignments based on the company’s needs and may have the ability to hire or fire team members. They may be responsible for employee reviews, giving them the ability to review a worker’s capabilities and provide feedback in an official capacity.

While production supervisors also spend time on the floor, the bulk of their duties involve ensuring day-to-day operations proceed as planned. This includes the ability to decide how certain issues should be addressed, should there be a question regarding the best course of action.

However, they don’t necessarily have carte blanche when it comes to rendering decisions. In many cases, production supervisors are in a middle tier of the organization’s hierarchy. They report to someone above them, so certain decisions may need to go up the chain, instead of being handled at that level.

Ultimately, there can be a lot that separates production workers from supervisors. However, to reach the rank of supervisor, most spent at least some time on the manufacturing floor, building a fundamental understanding of production processes that serve as a foundation of their decision making.

If you would like to learn more or would like to explore open production worker jobs, the professionals at The Advance Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our skilled recruiters today and see how our industry expertise can help you find a production worker job today.






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