Course CodeVBS104
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Train to be an Effective Supervisor


This is a very sound foundation course in the theory and practice of supervision, relevant to those working as supervisors, and those wanting to move into a supervisory role.
Learn to recruit and train new staff, plan work, motivate staff, solve problems systematically, implement disciplinary procedures, maintain a safe workplace, use worker participation as a supervisory tool, and more.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Functions of a supervisor,
    • Organisational structures & heirachy,
    • Bases for organisational structure,
    • Organisational charts,
    • Supervisors responsibilities,
    • How supervisors fit into an organisation,
    • What does a supervisor do.
  2. Understanding the work place
    • Government and private personnel departments,
    • Unions;
    • Law and employees,
    • Contracted responsibilities,
    • Discrimination,
    • Liability for staff actions,
    • Workplace elements.
  3. Communications and human relations
    • Influence in the workplace (formal authority, Reward and punishment, Knowledge, Leadership, Power, etc),
    • Familiarity,
    • Managing Aptitude (Status, Prestige, Loyalty, Security, Friendship, Personality, Workload, etc),
    • Good Business Writing,
    • Memoranda, Letters.
  4. Motivating employees
    • Internal Incentives,
    • Environmental Incentives,
    • Practical ways to motivate
  5. Organising the work place
    • Good work habits,
    • Planning a Work schedule,
    • Establishing priorities,
    • Improving results,
    • Project planning and management tools,
    • Organising the work space.
  6. Problem solving techniques
    • Solving problems,
    • Guidelines for making decisions,
    • Types of problem, solvers,
    • Different ways to solve problems,
    • Involving others,
    • A Classic Problem Solving Technique
  7. Discipline, complaints and grievances
    • Levels of discipline (reprimanding, fixing, blame, formal warning, removing privileges, termination of employment, legal action),
    • Increasing self discipline,
    • Introducing change,
    • Giving orders.
  8. Interviewing, recruitment, training
    • Job interviews,
    • Successful interviewing,
    • Resumes/ C.V's,
    • Training Staff,
    • Staff Procedure Documents,
    • Staff contracts,
  9. Work place safety
    • Cost of injury and illness,
    • Duty of Care,
    • Accidents,
    • Managing manual work safely,
    • Protective equipment
  10. Dealing with management/worker participation/ report writing/ staff meetings
    • Purpose of meetings,
    • Leading a meeting,
    • Problems with meetings,
    • Meeting documentation

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Staffing Considerations for Significant and Historic Gardens and Parks
The role of managers in garden heritage and allied sectors has developed quite substantially in the last few years. Today’s manager requires depth of industry and botanical knowledge, the ability to handle a varied workforce that includes full time, part time, volunteer and trainee staff. They also need administer complex financial planning processes, understand the rigorous health and safety and risk assessment procedures required in today’s work environment and be able to introduce compete with other sites, similar attractions and commercial venues for custom. Varied skills are required to enable a manager to work effectively in this very demanding sector - including the following:
  • Garden history
  • Garden design
  • Plant science
  • Engineering
  • Ecology
  • Environmental science and conservation
  • Marketing
  • Strategic planning
  • Management
  • Staff skills assessment, management and training
  • Financial planning
  • Financial Management
Know What You Need
A good supervisor needs to have a clear vision of what they want from the people they are supervising; and then have the ability to convey those needs to the staff, and both motivate and facilitate actions in order that the desired outcome is achieved.
Every job is different; and different supervisors can have differing levels of expectation.
The one thing that is always a constant is that there must be clear communication between the supervisor and those that are being supervised.
Skill Sets Required for Workers in the Historic Parks and Garden Sector
In an ideal situation garden staff would consist of a head gardener managing a team of skilled and semi-skilled and unskilled workers. The head gardener would be the person responsible for staff training.
Skilled gardeners should have the ability to undertake a range of tasks and traditional techniques (some unique) required in the upkeep of a heritage garden or site. These skills would include the ability to propagate and care for a range of historic plants and to restore, conserve and manage features and other elements found within historic gardens and parks, (in many cases not found in contemporary gardens) such as:
  • Complex water features
  • Bedding-out schemes
  • Herbaceous borders
  • Rock gardens
  • Topiary
  • Walled fruit and vegetable gardens
  • Historic glasshouses (often large and complex structures)
  • Arboretums
  • Dry stone walls and ha-has
  • Hedges (and hedge laying)
  • Antique garden ornaments
  • Woodlands (and associated wildlife)
  • Complex and ancients drainage systems
Skills Crisis
A shortage of skilled labour in the garden sector has developed over recent decades, in many countries. This includes public gardens and parks, botanic gardens, historic gardens and parks, private heritage gardens and designed landscapes. The problems are mainly due to:
  • An ageing workforce (In 2014, a significant majority of historic gardens staff in the UK and Australia were over 40 years old).
  • Low pay.
  • Lack of funding for training.
  • Lack of appropriate and meaningful training schemes (some training schemes are ‘in-house’ only and may be as limited as a day spent on workplace safety.
  • The abolition of local authority apprenticeships (the outsourcing of labour to CCT (Compulsory Competitive Tendering being the major factor).
  • Restructuring of local councils (parks departments in many cases have been absorbed into larger departments, creating confusion as to who is responsible for what).
These issues relate to other areas of horticulture as well.
On one hand this is worrying; but on the other hand, it is creating a growing demand for well trained and skilled gardens staff; from managers right through to manual workers.


Your understanding of supervision and awareness of techniques that may be used to better supervise staff will be greatly improved.  For some this may help them in a job they already have (operating their own business, or working as a supervisor elsewhere). For others, these studies will broaden and strengthen your range of skills, and in doing so, enhance the possibilities for you to advance your career.

Meet some of our academics

Bob James Bob has over 50 years of experience in horticulture across both production sectors (Crops and nursery) and amenity sectors of the industry. He holds a Diploma in Agriculture and Degree in Horticulture from the University of Queensland; as well as a Masters Degree in Environmental Science. He has worked a Grounds Manager at a major university; and a manager in a municipal parks department. Over recent years he has been helping younger horticulturists as a writer, teacher and consultant; and in that capacity, brings a diverse and unique set of experiences to benefit our students.
John Mason Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Kate GibsonKate has 12 years experience as a marketing advisor and experience as a project manager. Kate has traveled and worked in a variety of locations including London, New Zealand and Australia. Kate has a B.Soc.Sc, Post-Grad. Dip. Org Behaviour (HR).
Rosemary Davies Rosemary trained in Horticulture at Melbourne Universities Burnley campus; studying all aspects of horticulture -vegetable and fruit production, landscaping, amenity, turf, aboriculture and the horticultural sciences. Initially she worked with the Department of Agriculture in Victoria providing advice to the public. Over the years she has taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer. She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe. In 1999 Rosemary was BPW Bendigo Business Woman of the Year and is one of the founders and the Patron, of the Friends of the Bendigo Botanic gardens. She has completed her 6th book this year and is working on concepts for several others. Rosemary has a B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing

Check out our eBooks

Getting Work in HorticultureFind out what it is like to work in horticulture; how diverse the industry is, how to get a start, and how to build a sustainable, long term and diverse career that keeps your options broad, so you can move from sector to sector as demand and fashion changes across your working life.
Landscaping with Australian PlantsDiscover more about Landscaping with Australian Plants with this ebook, add a different design element in your garden by using beautiful and highly practical Australian Native plants. Attract wildlife, save water by using plants that are suitable for your area. Perfect for passionate gardeners, students and gardening professionals.
Project ManagementThis ebook is designed to help improve your capacity to manage any type of project in any type of industry. It may be read as a stand- alone book; used as something to refer to during the process of managing projects, or used as a complementary reference to help enhance the overall learning experience when studying a project management course.
Starting a Gardening or Landscape BusinessExpert advice on how to get started in your own garden or landscape business! Packed with valuable business advice, horticultural and landscaping knowledge, and practical ideas - this book is a must have for garden lovers. It is great for anyone thinking about (or already involved in), a horticultural, landscaping or garden business. This updated re-print is only available as an ebook.



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