After reading this article you will learn about:- 1. Meaning of Supervision 2. Objectives of Supervision 3. Methods.

Meaning of Supervision:

The term ‘supervision’ is used in two contexts:

1. Element of direction, and

2. Functions performed by supervisors.


1. Element of direction:

Supervision is one of the elements of direction besides motivation, leadership and communication. It is performed at all levels of management as it means guiding the efforts of employees and other resources to achieve the desired output. It is, thus, narrower in scope than direction.

2. Functions performed by supervisors:

Supervision means to carry out managerial functions of planning, organising etc. at various levels of management. Managers at the top supervise the activities of middle-level managers who supervise the activities of lower level managers who finally supervise the conduct of non-managers i.e. employees or workers of the organisation.


The term ‘supervisor’ is generally associated with managers at the lowest level who supervise the activities of the workers. They interact face-to-face with the employees. They act as link between managers and workforce. Directions issued by managers at the top reach the workers through supervisors and workers’ grievances or complaints reach the higher levels through supervisors.

Supervisors communicate with workers and perform all the managerial functions of planning, organising, staffing and controlling their activities. They act between two forces, managers and workers and try to satisfy the needs and desires of managers and workers both.

Supervisors specialise in behavioural sciences. Behavioural scientist “attempts to bring together, from a variety of disciplines, those concepts, theories, and research that may be useful to people in making decisions about the behaviour of individuals and groups.”

Supervisors are behavioural scientists who analyse and interpret human behaviour to get the work done through them. Supervisions, thus, deals with relationships between the superiors and subordinates. In maintaining these relationships, supervisors act as behavioural scientists.


They use different disciplines and even within a single discipline, say management, they resort to motivation, leadership, communication, direction etc. to moderate between superiors and subordinates. In this context, the term ‘supervision’ is wider in scope than direction.

Objectives of Supervision:

Supervision serves the following objectives:

1. Promote communication:

It helps managers understand workers’ goals and workers understand organisational goals. Both try to satisfy each other’s goals and, thus, contribute to organisational productivity.


2. Promote motivation:

Supervision along with two-way communication motivates the workers to achieve the organisational targets.

3. Evaluate performance:

Supervision evaluates the performance of workers and determines their compensation packages. People who achieve the standards are paid incentives than those who achieve less than standards.


4. Improve performance:

If workers are not able to achieve the targets, supervision helps in guiding and improving their performance.

Methods of Supervision:

Supervision can be done by the following methods:

1. Personal contact:


Supervisors personally observe the work of employees, analyse problems, correct them and explain better methods of work to them.

2. Correspondence:

Supervisors contact employees through correspondence. They send instructions in writing and receive written replies from them.

3. Reports:


Workers prepare periodic reports (weekly, monthly or annual) of their performance and send them to the head office. In case of sales reports, they contain information about number of calls made by the salesmen, number of orders taken, new prospects added etc. The sales supervisors go through the report, evaluate the salesmen’s performance and offer sales advice to enhance their sales efforts.

4. Telecommunication:

Modern means of communication like telephone, electronic mail, voice mail, video conferencing etc. help supervisors correspond with workers, supervise their efforts and provide the necessary support and help.