After reading this article you will learn about:- 1. Functions of a Supervisor 2. Role of Supervisor in Management 3. Qualities.

Functions of a Supervisor:

Five different views are held as regards functions performed by supervisors.

1. Supervisors as key persons in management:

Supervisors are the representatives of management. Workers, in fact, view them as ‘management’ only. Downward communication from top managers to workers and upward communication from workers to managers is facilitated through supervisors. They are, thus, viewed as important or key persons in management by the workers. While communicating the intentions of managers to workers, they perform the managerial functions of planning, organising, staffing and controlling the activities of workers.


2. Supervisors holding a middle position:

According to this view, managers want their intentions to be passed and implemented by workers. They want workers to obey and work according to rules and regulations. Workers, on the other hand, want supervisors to fulfill their expectations from the management, like fair wages, working conditions, leave rules etc.

If intentions of managers and workers are agreeable to each other, there is no problem of adjustment for the supervisors but if intentions of either party are not acceptable to the other, supervisor has to act wisely and intelligently to convince the two parties about the expectations of the other group. As holder of the middle position, he mediates between two opposite forces.

3. Marginal supervisors:


As marginal supervisor, a person holds supervisory position only superficially. He does not form part of the main stream of managers and is, therefore, not linked with the functional or departmental activities. If managers need assistance to solve the problems of workers, they seek the advice of staff specialists.

Workers, on the other hand, represent their views through the union leader. The union leader and managers contact each other directly to represent their views. No specific tasks are managed by supervisors according to this view. It views supervisors as only marginal supervisors.

4. Supervisors as other workers:

According to this view, supervisor is just another worker. It is only that he is titled as ‘supervisor’. He does not form part of managerial hierarchy and carries out the instructions of managers as any other worker does.


5. Supervisors as behavioural specialists:

Supervisors are viewed as holding the position of specialist in behavioural sciences. Supervisors as behavioural scientists study human behaviour and relate it to organisational tasks. They help in getting the work done through workers.

Role of Supervisor in Management:

Supervisor performs the following role in management:

1. Planning activities:


He plans the activities of workers according to plans of the organisation.

2. Organising activities:

To effectively carry out the plans, he organises the authority- responsibility structure to define authority and responsibilities of the workers.

3. Staffing:


Supervisor selects the workers, orients them with the organisation structure, trains them and directs them to perform organisational tasks.

4. Communicating:

He acts as a communication link between managers and workers. He facilitates both upward and downward communication between managers and workers.

5. Controlling:


Actual performance of workers is measured by the supervisor against standard performance targets laid by the managers and deviations are rectified.

6. Human behaviour:

As behavioural specialists, supervisors analyse the behaviour of workers and satisfy their grievances and problems. They satisfy their personal goals and help them achieve job satisfaction. They also work towards maximising goals of the organisation.

Qualities of a Supervisor:


To carry out the functions described above, supervisors must have certain qualities.

Some of these are as follows:

1. Understand human behaviour:

Supervisors may adopt task-oriented or relationship-oriented behaviour with the employees. While task-oriented relationship aims at production without much focus on worker’s needs, relationship-oriented behaviour allows supervisors and employees to engage in two-way communication.

Supervisors develop creative skills of employees, prepare them for potential promotions and support them in making decisions that relate to their personal interests. Employees develop positive relationships with supervisors and are motivated to work according to directions of supervisors. Effective supervisors, thus, create a congenial environment for workers to work in.

2. Leadership qualities:


Whether task-oriented or relationship-oriented, depending upon the nature of leaders, nature of subordinates and the situation, supervisors should have leadership qualities so that employees obey them and carry out their directions that lead to achievement of organisational objectives. As leaders, supervisors create zeal and enthusiasm in employees to contribute to organisational goal. Employees work with commitment, dedication and loyalty and not just because it is a part of their jobs.

3. Knowledge of the organisation structure:

The organisation structure defines the departments and levels in each department of the organisation. Clear knowledge about who is accountable to whom helps the supervisors in delegating the tasks to employees.

Not only does it help in developing the decision-making skills of employees but also provides time to supervisors to concentrate on important matters which cannot be delegated to employees. Supervisors use delegation as an effective technique to direction.

They assign part of their workload to subordinates and give them authority to carry out those tasks. However, they must assure parity between authority and responsibility. They should also ensure that subordinates do not exceed their authority to carry out the instructions.

4. Self-confidence:


Unless we are confident that what we are doing is right, we cannot convince others to do the same. Supervisors should have the power to convince, self-confidence, initiative, creativity, maturity, ability to judge, forbearance, patience and knowledge of managerial functions to motivate the employees to contribute to organisational productivity.

Supervisors should develop the morale of employees as high morale is the inner strength that motivates the employees to view organisational goals as important. They subordinate individual goals in favour of organisational goals and believe that organisational goals will help them satisfy their personal needs.