What is the best word to refer to the person that I (directly) supervise, in the context of a corporate workplace? The closest I can think of is employee, but that doesn't directly convey a direct supervisor relationship.

Other options I can think of are apprentice (usually used to refer exclusively to someone who is still learning where I come from), underling (patronizing), and worker (again not specific).

For example when describing a project:

My employee designed the front-end of the system while I worked on the critical business logic.
  • 6
    The workers being supervised don't have a role of being supervised, unlike the supervisor whose role is that of supervision. That's why it's difficult to find an opposite for supervisor.
    – Chris
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 0:12
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    Well, I suppose if underling is too "patronizing," that would rule out minion...
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 1:35
  • 3
    @J.R.: And most likely hireling, lackey, menial, retainer, dogsbody, skivvy, gofer and all the other ways your boss actually refers to you when he's talking to other bosses. Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 1:40
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    Could you provide more context? Your options suggest a work environment. Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 2:43
  • 6
    Isn't subordinate the word?
    – Mohit
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 3:48

10 Answers 10


direct-report is often used.

I'm having a meeting on Tuesday for all my direct reports.


From Merriam-Webster, a supervisee is a person being supervised. The word has over 600,000 google hits, so it isn't really outdated.

  • 1
    IMHO this sounds definitely too old-fashioned for the indicated context. In a reference I would use the person's (first) name or refer to "my direct report", if necessary.
    – Drux
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 17:08
  • Do you work in IT (as in "my supervisee designed the front-end of the system ...")? I think the term may serve better in other contexts, but of course there may not be a definite "best" (counted or weighed :) answer.
    – Drux
    Commented Dec 16, 2012 at 10:58
  • And the plural, "supervisees" is even less often use. I have people that I supervise but who are not necessarily team members or direct reports. They're not my employees, and they're not contractors. They are consortium partner members and freelancers of a contracting firm. So it's hard for me to come up w/ a word that encompasses this set.
    – Joe Flack
    Commented May 10, 2022 at 20:09

What about 'subordinate'? Perhaps a tinge too militaristic, but it is very close in my mind.

  • Subordinate is anyone falling below the supervisor in the hierarchy; the OP is asking for those being directly supervised.
    – Jim
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 4:20
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    Not a word, but a phrase immediate subordinate comes to mind!
    – Mohit
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 5:13
  • @Jim, good point. Perhaps someone with Greek or Latin fluency can make up a word for us with the precise meaning OP intended. Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 16:53

Specific context is important because amongst my friends there are the following supervisor/supervised relationships:

Team Lead / Team Member

Office Manager / Staff Member

Manager / Direct Report

Unit Coordinator / Unit Staff Member


Someone who is in charge of others has charges:

charge n
5. One that is entrusted to another's care or management:

  • I imagine in practice most people speak of my staff if they really are "in charge". But OP's supervise implies a somewhat looser relationship - maybe little more than mentor/mentoree, where it would still be credible for the mentor to speak of his charge. Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 1:36
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    All OP's examples are from the workplace: employee, apprentice, underling, worker, I'm not convinced charge is what he's looking for.
    – Jim
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 4:19
  • This doesn't sound like an employee but more like a ward or foster child.
    – Mitch
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 21:49
  • Sorry but this context is completely different.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 8, 2022 at 22:24
  • No, it's not. But have fun.
    – Robusto
    Commented May 8, 2022 at 23:05

Words not yet mentioned include aide (“An assistant”) and assistant (“A person who assists or helps someone else”). For example, “My assistant designed the front-end of the system.”

Serf (“(strategy games) A worker unit”), slave, and servant also have not been mentioned, but perhaps are no more acceptable than minion, hireling, lackey, menial, retainer, dogsbody, skivvy, gofer mentioned in comments.


When speaking of my direct reports I use the term "staff". When speaking to my direct reports I use the term "team" or more specifically "team member". During annual reviews of direct reports I may reference my relationship to them as I'm their "supervisory support".

Avoid the term "subordinate" as that can have a "less than" connotation.


When I hire people, I call them my workers.


subordinate or supervisee. I would try those


Sometimes,it depends on the context. If you are presenting your subordinate to someone outside the business, i.e., a client or competitor the most magnanimous way is to say, "This is my associate." (Makes both of you look good)

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