Supervision means mostly observing and sometimes controlling the activities of people frequently with minimum teaching. Workplace supervision involves instructing, guiding, monitoring and observing the employees while they are performing jobs in the organisation without necessarily teaching them something new.
Supervision is critical because people and issues arrive un-prioritized. There is a need to filter them for urgency and importance, and help employees stay focused. This is where the supervisor comes in.
As much as people may work well there is always the risk that they may work well at the wrong things because they do not have an overview of how things in an organization are supposed to fit together. A supervisor is there to give a clear vision of the objectives, whilst keeping an eye on whether people need more help, coaching or training and generally keep things moving.
The supervisor also needs to be aware of who they are supervising. The best supervisors have teams with high levels of engagement. Those supervisors know what to do, on purpose, to engage their team members. The best supervisors learn to do their jobs, and they practice to perfect the skills and behaviors required. They also know how to deal with different people. These days the workplace is a combination of Millennials and Generation Xers. They came of age in very different cultures and have unique expectations and preferences when it comes to their working life. They, therefore, need to be managed and supervised differently. When supervising Millennials it is important to remember that they thrive in an environment in which they are ‘coached’ and ‘mentored’ with minimal supervision, unlike Gen Xers who prefer independence.
If there are many tasks to be done, supervision can be important to ensure that the right people get the appropriate task and that they all get completed on time and to the right quality of work.
There is however need to avoid over supervision or micro-management, as this can become counterproductive. Too much supervision is interpreted as interference, lack of trust in the deliverables of the supervised, doubting the competency of the individual being supervised and kills creativity.
Without supervisors, productivity and achievement of goals is never fully guaranteed.
Fadzai Danha is a consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm.
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