Supervision and Management
Supervision and management are actually two different things. Supervision is
the direction of people at work and management is the planning and control of
the work process. A person can be a supervisor (direct people at work) without
being a manager and a person can be a manager (planning and control of work)
without supervising anyone. In most workplace situations many supervisors also
do some management and most managers also do some supervision. It is important
to realize that supervision and management are two distinct and different activities
requiring two very different skill sets.
Supervision and management within the bureaucratic framework permeate all aspects
of our lives except immediate family relationships. You need to realize realize
that this is learned, not instinctive, behavior. The management, supervision
and bureaucratic system we use was created by the Sumerians approximately 4000
years ago. It gradually spread over the earth because it is a more efficient
way of accomplishing work. This new way of thinking about work has changed our
lives dramatically and is second only to the discovery of fire in its impact
upon the human condition.
Supervision - The direction of people at work
The direction of people at work is the most difficult of all production related
tasks. Supervision means constantly functioning in a state of flux and ambiguity
and few people feel satisfaction from being a supervisor. The reason this is
worth mentioning is because many new supervisors feel that something is "wrong"
when they are constantly faced with problems relating to their workforce. This
state of flux and ambiguity is normal to supervision and success is measured
in percentages rather than absolutes.
All work requires the coordination of effort. We accomplish this by giving workers
assigned tasks and assigned time in which they are to accomplish these tasks.
But just giving instructions is not enough. You must give clear, specific
instructions on what is to be done, monitor the worker in the course
of their efforts and hold them accountable for specific results. These
three elements; specific instructions on what is to be done, monitoring them
periodically to make sure it is being done, and making the employee accountable
for the results are the core of the supervisory process. It is the responsibility
of the supervisor to do this. Workers who do not receive good instruction and
direction; who are allowed to do work incorrectly without correction and who
do not have a review of their performance have not had proper supervision and
hence have not been allowed to perform properly.
Supervisors also need to be aware of the role they play in the system. Many
new supervisors see supervision as a "satus reward". Just like workers
supervisors are accountable for results and represent the organization, not
themselves. The supervisors' job is to make work more efficient and as such
they are a resource for the worker. This view of supervision, as the supervisor
supporting the worker to make work more efficient, is the correct one.
Management - The planning and control of work
All but the simplest tasks require planning in order to be accomplished with
the best utilization of time and resources. The basic method of controlling
work is a four step process. Work begins with a goal of what is to be
done. The next step is the development of a plan to do the work. Here
managers decide what segments the work will be broken into, what time it will
take to do the work, what sequence things should be done in and how much resources
will be expended. The third step is to monitor the plan as it is being
executed to see that the work is proceeding according to the plan. The final
step in the work control process is to take corrective action on those
things which are deviating from the original plan.
It is important to remember this four step process because it is common to
all work control situations. You, as a manager, may only be involved in a part
of the process, but no matter what your role, a knowledge of the four basic
steps, Goal, Plan, Monitor and Correct is essential to your success in controlling