Supervision - The Organizational Role of Supervisors

What Every Supervisor Needs to Know

by Jack Asgar


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The purpose of this book is twofold: (1) to delineate the unique functions of the firstline supervisors and to guide them in how they can function effectively in the "real world" and (2) to inform managers on what performance they should expect from their subordinate supervisors and to guide them in achieving productive results from their workgroup.

The role of a supervisor, as differentiated from that of a manager, often is very hazy in a multilevel organization. In some cases every level of management gets involved in supervision and duplicates the supervision function. Often these misuses of functions are justified on the basis of "Management by Walking Around," "Show of Interest and Concern with the Worker," etc. These management fads and euphemisms not only produce negative results, they will cause other deep-rooted problems for the organization.

First, by managers doing the job of supervisors, managers do not have the time to perform their own managerial duties which are essential and distinctly different. Second, when an organization recognizes that managerial activities are not being performed, the organization creates additional levels of management -- causing the burden of unreasonable overhead costs. Third, the managers usurp the function of supervisors, not allowing the supervisors to learn and strengthen themselves. No amount of supervisory training is going to compensate for the lack of opportunity to perform. Fourth, at best these misuses of functions are going to create many duplications of effort.

Organizations have to realize that supervision is different from managing and that each level requires a different set of skills and a different set of responsibilities. Various levels of the organization are not the result of outgrowth from the previous one. We truly do have levels if discontinuity in organizations. For example, when a worker gets promoted to supervisor, he or she must realize that this new position is different -- not only in superficial issues such as title, salary, benefits, perks, parking locations, etc., but also in the nature of the work. Supervision requires learning and performing supervisory skills.

Also, when supervisors become managers, they have to recognize the level of discontinuity again. Managers are not glorified supervisors. Their function is substantially different, and they too have to learn and perform these different functions. One of the important realizations is to "let the supervisors supervise." This simple statement is the essence of success. Those who do not understand or practice that simple axiom are doomed to reap the results of their own doing.

There is no other book available in the market that discusses these issues.

About The Author

Dr. Asgar is currently the Chairman of the Board of Practical Management, Inc. (PMI), a management consulting company with a 35-year history of excellence in the fields of management development and training. Dr. Asgar joined PMI in 1968 as a Corporate Partner, becoming the President and CEO in 1981. Under his leadership, PMI has developed a national reputation for providing practical, real-world consultation and seminar presentations. PMI's client list includes most of the Fortune 500 companies along with all types and sizes of organizations, private and public.

Dr. Asgar has been both a student and practitioner of management, specializing in organizational concepts and issues. He has spearheaded the movement for better, more realistic, development of all management personnel from supervisors to top executives. He speaks and writes eloquently about the Hierarchy of Knowledge and Levels of Discontinuity as defining factors in the success of organizational management.

Being an outstanding instructor, Dr. Asgar presents PMI's management and training courses to audiences across the country. His concepts form the basis of many of PMI's seminars. He has authored a book on supervision and contributed many articles on management and training to notable business journals.