Perhaps more than any other role in the organization, the role of supervisor has changed dramatically through the evolution of the organization and changes in society (See Kerr, 1986, for an interesting history of the role of the supervisor). At the heart of the supervisor’s job is the task of getting work done with the help of others. But this simple definition has taken on different meanings over the course of history. A supervisor in the industrial revolution was given almost complete control of the people he supervised. His role resembled a contractor for the company who was given the independence to hire, fire, and discipline as he saw fit.
The research on effective supervision identifies numerous skills that a supervisor should possess. The skills have been organized into five categories: Guiding the Work, Organizing the Work, Developing Your Staff, Managing Performance, and Managing Relations. A common thread runs through all of the skill dimensions — the ability to balance the goals of the organization with the needs of the work group. The primary role of the supervisor is to be a link between the management of the organization and the employees. The supervisor is accountable to management for getting the work done according to expectations, to his or her employees for their well-being, and to him- or herself for his or her own development.
The supervisor uses the direction of the organization to perform his or her job. This direction is needed to guide his or her group’s work. In order to accomplish the work, the supervisor must organize the work, develop his or her staff, manage their performance formally and informally, and manage relationships with several groups outside his or her own group.
In our next several blogs, we will dig into the five key skills effective supervisors need to develop, including Guiding the Work, Organizing the Work, Developing Your Staff, Managing Performance, and Managing Relations.
Supervisors are the vital link between your organization and its work groups. Get your supervisors in gear and ready for performance with the Supervisory Skills Questionnaire.
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