Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

5.2. The supervisor and the team

ryanrori December 31, 2020

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Let us get back to the basics: First of all it is important to take into account that a supervisor is a manager. One of the most important difficulties newly appointed supervisors encounter is to adjust to the people management side of the new job. What are the most important functions of a supervisor?

  • Taking the responsibility for the results of other people
  • Managing information
  • Reporting to superiors
  • Managing the overall results of the department, section or division

In reality therefore, despite the new environment, a supervisor still remains finally responsible and accountable for the entire operation under his or her control.

Let us now look at the basic supervisory functions in terms of the challenges that we are facing and in which we need to change our mindset:

How to plan effectively

Planning is one of the most important functions of a supervisor. We need a plan of action on how we are going to achieve our objectives in the new environment. The planning responsibility will be more difficult and complex. Our resources will be limited. The future is uncertain.  In short, the planning task will be more difficult and will call for an in-depth understanding of the new environment and new skills to deal with the complexities.

How to delegate and control

It is impossible to do everything yourself. Delegating is a key function in the new business environment.  Remember, we will have less people to delegate to, and with the new business rules we will need more skills at the lower levels. It is one of your primary responsibilities to show your subordinates and not merely to tell them. It is difficult to delegate in a downsized organisation, but remember, you still remain responsible, irrespective of the limited resources and increased complexity.

How to lead subordinates

Don’t tell me show me.  Supervisors lead by setting a fine example.  Setting an example calls for new skills. Leading effectively in the new environment calls for new skills than those we got used to in the good old days and managing new complexities will be part of our responsibilities.  You need to know the rules of the game and lead with confidence.

How to effectively organise the working environment

Making sense and structuring the work environment with new rules will call for exceptional organisation skills. Organising a downsized organisation is difficult and with less resources and increased pressure to maintain a healthy bottom line will be of critical importance. Although the organisation structure is determined at a higher level, supervisors can play a leading role in organised housekeeping to optimise workflow and productivity.

How to schedule activities effectively

How to manage bottlenecks and other operational constraints will be high on the agenda in the competitive environment. Work scheduling calls for creative solutions and the optimum use of resources in the new environment.

How to solve problems

Due to the fact that the operating environment has become more competitive, problem solving has become more important.  With the new rules new problems will arise, and existing problems will have to be solved with fewer resources.  A new approach is therefore required.

How to take effective decisions

How to effectively apply and manage resources has a direct impact on decision-making. The effects of wrong decision-making can have a much greater impact on the organisation than in the previous environment.

How to evaluate

A supervisor has to evaluate how his/her section or department are doing.  Is the section

  • Meeting targets set for the team?
  • Staying within the budget allocated to the section?
  • Using resources efficiently?
  • Cooperating with other departments?
  • Reporting as required by the organisation?
  • Carrying out action plans as laid out?
  • Anticipating and solving problems?

Are the employees in the section:

  • Meeting individual targets
  • Absent often?
  • Working together well or is there a lot of conflict?
  • Following correct working procedures?
  • Helping each other when needed?
  • Working too much overtime?
  • Participating actively during meetings?

The actual work being done has to be compared against the objectives set to the team and deviations have to be investigated.  If necessary, procedures to rectify should be implemented. 

The progress of the team has to be reported to the team and to management, following the procedures laid down in the organisation.

Good work has to be rewarded and problems have to be investigated so that corrective actions can be suggested.

The above is also known as good management practice.

Remember that supervisors are pivotal links in the entire service delivery process and that your contribution is critical in ensuring the success of the entire company.