Best Practices Manual for Supervisors

The term ‘supervisor’ refers to a person who assigns work to subordinates and oversees their activities and performance. In management the first line managers at operating level are called ‘supervisors’ because it is the primary duty of first line managers to supervise the employees engaged in the basic operations (also called operating workforce) (Ahuja, 2005, p.225).


In management, the term ‘supervision’ means overseeing the subordinates at work by their superiors. It is the function of leading, co-coordinating and directing the work of others to accomplish designated objectives. It refers to the direct and immediate guidance and control of subordinates in the performance of their task (Sharma, 204, p.110).


The role of a supervisor in an organization has been shown below: Fig. Role of Supervisor (Sharma, 204, p.111)

(a) As Mediator- Supervisor acts as a mediator between higher-level management and the workers.

(b) As Medium of Communication – supervisor acts as a medium of communication between higher-level managers and workers. He explains management policies to the workers and conveys the workers’ attitudes, opinions, grievances and problems to higher-level management (Silbiger, p.103). In other words, he communicates

(i) To the workers what the management expects from them and

(ii) To the management what the workers want. Thus, supervisor bridges the gap between the expectations of management and demands of operatives and workers.

(c) As Convertor – Supervisor acts as a convertor in the sense that he occupies such a key position which turns plans and policies into actual results through the efforts of workers.

(d) As Inspirer – supervisor acts as an inspirer in the sense that he inspires workers to cooperate and contribute to the best of their capability for the achievement of organizational objectives.

(e) As Leader – Supervisor acts as a leader in the sense that he influences the workers to work with team spirit for the achievement of organizational objectives. He also provides a cohesive force, which holds the group intact and develops a spirit of cooperation and discipline among the employees.

(f) As Guide and Friend – Supervisor acts as a guide and friend in the sense that he educates and trains the workers, creates friendly environment and solves the disputes of the workers. In this way, he ensures team spirit, co-operation and discipline amongst the members (Sharma, 2004, p.115)

Thus, the Supervisor is expected to secure not only the efficiency of operations but also the team spirit, co-operation and discipline among the employees.

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