Supervision is an important and integral part of the task and process of management. The role of supervision is a critical one because of the direct contact and responsibility for the work of others.
It used to be said that a manager did his or her job by getting others to do theirs, in many ways this sums up the role of the supervisor. The role differs from that of management in that the supervisor is unique, being the interface between management and the workforce and is the direct link between the two.
The role of the supervisor differs from that of a manager in that he or she is:
– in direct physical contact with non-managers on a frequent basis
– is the front line of management
– has the chief responsibility for seeing that others fulfil their duties
– has a dual loyalty and must be loyal both upwards and downwards
– has to face and resolve problems firsthand and often quickly
– actually directs the work of others
– directly enforces discipline
– due to the closeness to others, has direct knowledge and ability in health, safety and employment legislation
– often has responsibility for negotiation and industrial relations within the department
However, management must ensure that supervisors understand organisational objectives and make clear the powers and limits of the supervisor’s authority and responsibilities.