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UNIT -15


The process of overseeing the subordinates at work is what is known as supervision. It is undertaken to ensure that the subordinates work as per the plans and polices of the organization. Supervision involves face-to-face contact between the supervisor and his subordinates.

Supervision is undertaken at all levels of management. Top management (consisting of Board of Directors, Managing Director and General Manger) supervises the work of the middle- level mangers (consisting of the heads of the various departments.) The middle-level managers supervise the work of the various departments). The middle level managers supervise the work of the supervisory staff (consisting of the foremen, superintendents and others). The supervisory staff, in turn, supervises the work of the operating workers. Supervision is part of direction.

Definitions of supervision

Supervision refers to the direct and immediate guidance and control of subordinates in the performance of their tasks-Wytels.

Supervision is achieving of the desired results by means of the intelligent utilization human talents -G.R.Terry.

Supervision is the function of assuring that the work is being some in accordance with the plan and instructions-R.C.Davis. The following are the important activities of a supervisor. I) To assign work to the subordinates

II) To review the quality and quantum of work done by the subordinates and III) To instruct, induce and inspire his subordinates to perform better.

Qualities of a Good Supervisor

In order to perform his duties effectively, a supervisor is expected to possess the following qualities.

1. Knowledge of the Organization - The supervisor is expected to know the following

about his organization.


He must first of all be familiar with the organizational policies, rules and regulations.


He must be aware of the structure of the organization. He must understand the goals of the enterprise and only then he will be able to explain these to his subordinates.


Needless to say, the supervisor should know what the organization expects out of him. Based on the work assigned to him by his own superior, he will be able to assign work to each of the subordinates working under him.


The supervisor shall set targets for his subordinates and also give them the necessary orders and instructions.


He shall supervise the work of his subordinates and give them whatever assistance they may require.

2. Knowledge of Work - Every supervisor should possess adequate technical knowledge

of the work that his department undertakes. For example, the foreman in the production department will be able to guide the workers only if he is well help him in his work as stated below:


Knowledge of the materials and machines used in production will facilitate employee guidance.


He will be able to explain the proportioning which the materials need to be mixed.


He will be able to prepare work schedule for the workers placed under him.


He will also be able to review the work of his subordinates by checking the quality and quantity of output.

3. Communication Skill - The supervisor will not be effective in his work if he lacks
communication skills. By keeping quiet he cannot get things done by his subordinates. He must be good in conveying his ideas verbally as well as in the form of written statements. The communication skill of the supervisor is not something determined by his vocabulary power or fluency alone. He must beagle to convey his plans and ideas effectively to the subordinate staff. A supervisor with good communication skills will also be able to guide. Lead and motivate his subordinates well.

4. Capacity to Listen - The supervisor must have the capacity to listen to what others
say. This may be necessary to obtain information, solve problems, and share experiences and so on. The supervisor may get orders and instructions from his own superior. If only he has the capacity to listen, he will be able to understand all such orders and instructions and act. Similarly, hen a subordinate approaches him with some problem; the supervisor must list suitable remain. Only then he will be able to offer a suitable remedy. The preparedness to listen to others is also useful to share one's experiences with another. The supervisor, by listening to his subordinates and colleagues, will be able to share his experiences with them. If, after listening to a

subordinate, the supervisor finds that the subordinate himself is at fault, he can persuade such a subordinate to comply with his instructions to solve the problem.

5. Capacity to secure co- operation- The subordinates must be ever ready to offer
their whole hearted support and co-operation to their superior in all his endeavors. This will happen only if the superior is sincere, honest and committed to work. If the superior himself is poor in planning and execution or is not sincere and honest in his dealings, the subordinates will not have confidence in him. The superior, therefore, has to prove his efficiency and commitment to work to his subordinates. Only then he can expect their full co- operation.

6. Memory Power- A good supervisor is expected to have sharp memory power. He

should be able to remember the policies procedures rules and regulations of the organization. He must know thoroughly about all his subordinate their names, capabilities , skills, strengths and weaknesses. When a reference is made to any of his subordinates, the supervisor must be able to give all the relevant information without looking into records and files.

7. Capacity to judge- The supervisor must be good in his judgment. He must know the
traits of each of the employees working under him. Before assigning work to any subordinate, the supervisor must see his capabilities and then give him the assignment. A good supervisor knows the strong and weak points of each subordinate and can entrust the right job to records and files.

8. Systematic in approach A good supervisor is one who is systematic in his work. He

knows what should be done first and what next. He does not work in a haphazard manner. Only a supervisor who does his work in a systematic manner can expect his subordinates also to be systematic in their work.

9. Decisiveness- The supervisor must be able to make firm decisions and should not be
wavering. He must have the capacity to make the right decision at the right moment. The subordinates of such a supervisor will certainly try to emulate him. In due course, they will also learn the art of making firm decisions. If the supervisor is of a wavering nature his subordinates will also be like him.

10. Patience The supervisor must not be of irritable nature. Even when there are lapses
on the party of his subordinates he should not get provoked. He must explain to them their lapse and also correct them without hurting their feelings. He can tell them what they should do to prevent the occurrence of such a lapse in future

11. Motivated- If only the supervisor himself is motivated he will be able to motivate his
subordinates. If he complains all the time about the organization, his job, superiors, subordinate, pay, working conditions, etc., his subordinates too will start dong the same.

12. Ability to enforce discipline- Discipline in a workplace means the willingness of the
subordinates to abide by the rules and regulations of the organization. Such willingness should come spontaneously. If necessary, the supervisor may even enforce discipline by carefully applying the punishment measures. Suspension, vindictive transfer, etc., should not be used in all circumstances.

13. Ability to delegate- The supervisor should know the kind of work that can be
entrusted to his subordinates and the job that he alone can do effectively. Generally, work if a routine nature will be entrusted to the subordinate staff. The superior will concentrate on more important assignments. This technique is what is called Management by Exception.

Responsibilities or Functions of a Supervisor

The following are the important functions of a supervisor 1. Preparing the basic plan of work 2. Assignment of duties to subordinates 3. Selection of casual workers 4. Training employees 5. Communication of orders and instructions 6. Introduction of better work methods 7. Handling grievances 8. Enforcing discipline 9. Enforcing safety 10. Appraisal of performance

Let us discuss these functions now.

Preparing the basic plan of work

The first important task of the supervisor is to prepare the basic plan of work for the department or division to which he and his subordinate belong. The target for the entire department for a specific period- half- yearly or quarterly may be determined. The manner in which the same will be attained will then be determined. Based on the half yearly or quarterly target, monthly, weekly or even daily target for every individual in the department shall also be determined. The production manager, for example, may determine the target in tune with the enterprise policies and in consultation with the foremen and the employees.

Assignment of duties to subordinates

Once the basic plan is ready, the next step is to assign duties to every individual in the department or division. The production manager may assign duties to the foremen working directly under him. Each of the foremen will then assign work to the subordinates who are placed under him. The subordinate workers are answerable to their foremen who directly supervisor their work. Every foremen is answerable to the production manager (works manager) for the progress of work at regular intervals.

Selection of casual workers

In a big establishment, the job of recruitment and selection of regular staff is undertaken by the personnel department. Apart from the regular staff, the organization may also require certain casual workers. Employment of casual workers may be necessary especially for the factory. These workers may be employed on a contract basis. Certain organizations also employ the casual workers on a daily basis and pay them wages at the end of the days work.

Generally, the task of appointing casual workers is entrusted to the supervisor in each department. The approval of the General Manager for such an appointment is not necessary.

Training employees

In every department the task of training the employees is entrusted to the supervisor concerned. The head of the department does not involve him self directly in all such matters. For example, the sales officer will arrange for training the salesmen, the

foreman will arrange to train the workers and so on. The training needs of different categories of employees are different.

Factory workers, usually, receive on -the job training. Salesmen, on the other hand, receive off-the-job training. Training, trainee salesmen may be sent to training institution where experts impart knowledge and skill to the trainees. Roles plays, group discussions, management games, case studies are generally the methods used in these training centers.

New recruits need what is called induction or orientation training. The object of induction training is to familiarize the new employee with the policies, rules and regulations of the organization. Further, the new employee must also be taken to the different department and sections and introduced to the people working there. In every department the task of providing orientation training is entrusted to the supervisor.

Communication of orders and instructions

The supervisor may have to issue several orders pertaining to work to his subordinates on a daily basis. These orders require the subordinate to do or not to do certain things. Orders eliminate confusion and make things definite. However, the order must take into account the capability of the subordinates. The subordinates should also have access to different kinds of resources in order to carry out the tasks assigned. Orders may be of different types- oral order, written order, general order, specific order and so on. The supervisor shall also establish proper channels of communication to facilitate contacts with his subordinate and with his superiors as well. Effective upward communication enables the supervisor to know the decisions of his superior. Proper downward communication will help him to pass on orders to his subordinates.

Introduction of better work methods

It is the responsibility of the supervisor to improve the existing methods of work and also introduce certain new work methods in his department/ organization of work in our work places. For example, bank accounts are now being processed through computes. Almost all business establishments have computerized their operations now. It is the duty of the supervisor to observe the method of work adopted in similar organisations and explore the possibility of introducing such methods in his organisation also.

The workers may show resistance to any change in the method of work. The supervisor, therefore, has a further duty of convincing the workers on the benefits of such improved work methods. The benefits may accrue not only to the better so as to be in a position to use any new technique or method of work. This increases the level of skill of the individual.

Handling grievances
Expression of dissatisfaction is what is known as a grievance. When the subordinates have certain grievances, they only report to their supervisor. The supervisor, first of all, has to ascertain whether the grievances are genuine or not bad workers blame the tools is a famous proverb. A worker who lacks the skill necessary to do his job often blames others for his inability. They supervisor, therefore, Should try to understand the cause of the grievance. If the supervisor has perfect knowledge of the capabilities of each of his subordinates, he will be able to know the genuineness of the complaint.

The grievances of the workers may be over any of the following issues:

a) Pay b) Working conditions c) Opportunities for advancement

d) Attitudes of fellow workers e) Attitudes of the supervisor himself and so on.

Family worries can also be a cause of grievance. As far as pay, working conditions and such other needs of the subordinates are concerned, if the supervisor feels that the grievances of his subordinates are genuine, he can speak to his superiors to find an early solution.

If the relationships between the subordinates are not cordial, the supervisor can speak to them and ascertain the problem. Using his position and experience he can certainly provide remedy. If the subordinates have some complains against the supervisor himself, which he is able to understand from the circumstances, he can convene a meeting and give the subordinates an opportunity to express their feelings. If the complaints of the subordinates are valid the supervisor should gracefully admit the same and also give the subordinates the assurance that such lapses will not occur in future.

Counseling can provide remedy if family worries are a cause of grievance.

Enforcing discipline
Discipline, in the contest of a work place, refers to the strict adherence by the employees to the rules and regulations of the organization. The following are the indicators of employee indiscipline:

I. Often late for work II. Availing leave frequently III. Unauthorized absence IV. Not sincere in work

V. Quarrelling often with the supervisor and the fellow- workers VI. Often complaining about something or the other

The following are some of the important causes of employee indiscipline: I) II) III) IV) V) Incapacity Lack of monetary and non-monetary benefits Poor working conditions Monotonous nature of work Strained relations with the superior and fellow employees.

The following steps may be taken to tackle indiscipline successfully: 1. The supervisor should set a good example to his subordinates. He must be sincere and committed to his work, honest and straightforward in his dealings, regular and punctual. He must not be complaining about his job. Superiors, subordinates, working conditions and so on. 2. He must be fair and reasonable in his dealings with all his subordinates. 3. Before initiating action against any employee for carelessness in discharging duties, the supervisor must warn him well in advance. A memo, seeking explanation from the employee, may be served on him. Punishment measures such as suspension or dismissal should be adopted only as the last resort.

Enforcing safety

The supervisor must ensure proper safety of his subordinates. He must ensure that the workers use all the safety devices recommended by the law. Gloves, be careless while at work. This gives scope for accidents. As a result, the employee concerned as well as the organization may have to suffer. Compensation has to be paid to the employee who is involved in the accident. Sometime the employee result in the organization losing

efficient and committed employees. Lack of safety precautions may also result in damage to business property. The following are the safety measures that should be adopted by the supervisor to protect the personnel as well as the business property:

1. To educate the subordinates on the importance of safety precautions. 2. To arrange to provide


Safe tools and equipment to the workers. Adequate safety signs and warning signals in the factory. The required number of fire fighting equipment in the work place. First aid boxes at the appropriate places.

3. To arrange to detect possible safety hazards such as unguarded machines, faulty electrical connections, etc,

Appraisal of performance
It is also the responsibility of the supervisor to appraise or evaluate the performance of the subordinates placed under him. Appraisal of performance must be done at regular intervals. The object of evaluating performance is to know how many of the subordinates are efficient, less efficient or inefficient.

Such of those subordinates who are found to be highly efficient may be suitably rewarded. They may be given certain monetary or non-monetary benefits. This would motivate them to maintain their performance in future.

A subordinate who is found to be less efficient may be given additional training. This would help him to acquire better job knowledge. He is able to equip himself better and this would certain help him to do his job well in future.

If a subordinate is found to be inefficient, after having been evaluated several times, the organization cannot afford to retain him. Such a person would obviously be removed from service.

While appraising the performance of the subordinates the supervisor must follow the guidelines given below:

1. He must neither be too strict nor too lenient in his assessment. 2. There must not be any discrimination in assessment based on sex, religion, caste and such other factors. 3. The supervisor must be sure of the criteria of assessment (quality of output, quantity of output), which he should use uniformly for all. 4. There must also be consistency in evaluation. For achieving consistency, the target set and the parameters used must be kept unchanged. 5. The results of evaluation must be communicated to the subordinates then and there. This would help those, whose performance is below the expected level, to equip themselves better. 6. The supervisor must also help the subordinates by giving them the necessary tips to enrich their job knowledge and skill. 7. All incentives to be given to the subordinates must be linked to their performance. Only then they will have motivation to work hard.

Span of supervision
Span of supervision is also known by certain other names like span of management, span of control and so on. It refers to the number of subordinates a supervisor can effectively manage. If too many subordinates are placed under a supervisor he will not be able to effectively guide them and supervise their work. On the other hand, if the number of subordinates under a supervisor is too low then the supervisors potentials cannot be

fully utilized for the benefit of the organization. It is, therefore, necessary to determine the correct span.

A number of factors determine span of supervision. Important among them are given below: 1. Nature of work 2. Ability of the supervisor 3. Ability of the subordinate 4. Extent of delegation 5. Methods of communication

Span of supervision has been discussed in detail in chapter 13. Supervisor

Needless to say, the supervisor will be able to do his best if the number of subordinates placed under him is less. But in such a situation, the organization would require more number of supervisors to manage the subordinate staff. This involves only simple mathematics. For example, if the manageable number of subordinates is 6per supervisor and there are 30 subordinates in the organization, the organization would require 5 supervisors. But if instead of 6 only 3 per supervisor is considered ideal then the organization would require 10 supervisors

This idea has been explained by means of a couple of simple diagrams below



Figure 15.1- ideal span of supervision Six subordinates

Similarly, the number of levels in the organization structure is also influenced by the capabilities of the superiors and subordinates. For example, if there are 6 workers in the production department and the works manager is able to manage feels directly there will not be any need for a foreman. Then an additional level of supervision is created. Again if the foreman feels that he will not be able to deal with 6 workers at a time and can manage only 3 effectively then another foreman may have to appointed.

The following problems are normally faced when there are different levels in the organizational structure and there are many supervisors: 1. Expensive- Recruitment of more supervisors involves additional expenditure for the organization. If only the organization has adequate funds it will be able to employ more supervisory staff. 2. Problem of co-ordination- When there are many levels in the organization structure, co-ordination becomes very difficult. For example, if we take the marketing department of an enterprise into account, the marketing manager must

wait for reports from the marketing officers who in turn await reports from the sales representatives. Thus, the higher the levels of supervision the greater will be the problem of co-ordination. Failure at any level would hamper work.

The problem of co-ordination need not necessarily arise only between various departments. It may arise even within a department. This is what has been shown in figure 15.3

3. Problem of control- Multiple hierarchies also poses problems of control. The department as a whole will be considered successful only if it has achieved its goal affectively. The work manager, for example, has the responsibility of preparing the basic plan for his department and assign targets for the foremen working under him. Every foreman will assign work to the workers placed under him and also set targets for them. to carry out the task within the stipulated time. Now it is for the workers to carry out the task within the stipulated time. The foreman, of course, has to supervise their work and the works manager will there may be shortfall in target attainment. This would affect the entire department. 4. Problem of communicationMultiple levels of supervision poses

communication problems too. If any employee has to convey any information officially, he has to approach his immediate superior. For example, a salesman has to approach his superior the sales officer who in turn has to contact the sales manager. The sales manger has to inform the general manager who makes the final decision on the matter. This results in delay in evolving a decision on any subject. Thus, it is clear that the higher the levels of supervision the greater will be the delay in arriving at decisions. Moreover, as the message passes through different levels, there is also a possibility that it may get twisted or altered. The message, therefore, may not reach the ultimate authority in the manner it was originally sent.

5. Scope for conflicts- This higher the levels of supervision the greater will be the scope for conflicts. Misunderstanding may arise between the organizational staff whenever it is necessary to evolve a decision on an important issue. For example, the workers may want to work overtime to complete their task but the foreman may not be willing to supervise. He may blame the workers for being slow, in such a situation; it is difficult for the works manager to make a decision. 6. Multiple command- When there are many levels in the organizational structure, there is also scope for multiple command, i.e., a subordinate may get orders from many supervisors. In such a situation, he will not know whose orders he has to carry out. For example, a salesman may get instructions from his sales officer and also from the sales manager. It may also happen that even the general manager of the concern may give instructions to him. When many superiors command a subordinate, he will be helpless.