What is Supervision? Role, Functions

  • Post last modified:12 May 2023
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  • Post category:Management

What is Supervision?

Supervision means the act of watching over the work or tasks of another who may lack full knowledge of the concept at hand. Supervision does not mean control of another but guidance in a work, professional or personal context.

There are several interpretations of the term “supervision,” but typically, supervision is the activity carried out by supervisors to oversee the productivity and progress of employees who report directly to the supervisors. For example, first-level supervisors supervise entry-level employees.

Depending on the size of the organization, middle managers supervise first-level supervisors; chief executives supervise middle-managers, etc. Supervision is a management activity and supervisors have a management role in the organization. Occasionally, writers will interchange “leadership” and “supervision.” Both activities are closely related.

Supervision requires leadership. Leadership does not necessarily have to involve supervision.

Role of a Supervisor

Supervisor serves as an important role in an organization. In an organization, the role of supervisor is to monitor the employees working. The work of supervision is carried out at companies, factories where supervisor will monitor products.

It is found that a supervisor is part of management team which will serves as position of first line managers. First line manager is a person who will work for many functions that will help in meeting the productivity. With this reason, a supervisor is only called as manager that has important role at execution level.

A supervisor plays multiple roles at one time

As a Planner

A supervisor serves as a planner as he/she has to plan for daily working schedules in an establishment. In planning, he bifurcates the work among different workers as per their abilities.

As a Manager

Since supervisor is part of management team, so ultimately to operate the working he was called as operative manager.

As a Guide and Leader

A supervisor guides the people working under him with necessary plan to be performed daily.

As a Mediator

A supervisor is a person who will communicate and work in between the management and workers. He serves as a coordinator among management as well as workers.

As an Inspector

An important function of supervisor is to monitor, regulate rules for workers, time scheduling and carried out performance for workers on daily basis. In the other way it serves as an inspector by inspecting rule, work, production and worker progress.

As a Councillor

A supervisor sometimes plays the role of a counselor when he/she involves in workers problems. At that time he has to really become a person that can make the worker satisfied with responses.

Functions of a Supervisor

To manage the function related to workers and progress, supervisor plays an important role. Being the part of management team, the supervisor works closely with concerned manager to do various functions involved.

The idea behind performance of certain functions is to take care about stability and soundness to an organization with the idea of achieving profits with more productivity. With this, supervisor concerns with following functions:

Planning and Organizing

Supervisor?s plans for day-to-day work and performs schedule for workers by showing and helping them about the nature of work.

Provision of working conditions

As seen, supervisor serves as an important function by doing physical settings in an organization by arranging physical resources at correct place.

Leadership and Guidance

As studied, supervisor is a sort of leaders for workers who handle all workers problems. He guides workers through target and production scheduling through instructions and guidelines.


A supervisor is important management personnel that link him with workers to pursue any work and to provide incentives to workers at various levels.


The main aspect of supervisor is to

  • Takes care about the performance of workers against certain time schedule

  • Ensure and check the work progress

  • Locate for any deflection in making solutions

  • Involved in self-problem solving solution thereby reporting it to top management.

Linking Pin

It is work of supervisor to handle and take care of every solution that exists among management and workers. The work of communicating and passing of relevant information to workers with the demand of management is the core concept which supervisor handles.

Grievance Handling

The supervisor can handle the grievances of the workers effectively. For this, he has to do the following things

  • He must be in direct touch with workers.
  • He should win the confidence of the workers by solving their problems.
  • He should tackle worker problems on humanitarian grounds.
  • If he cannot tackle them independently, he can take the help and advice of the management to solve it.


A supervisor has an important role to report about the cost, quality and any such output, which can be responsible for increasing productivity.

Introducing new work methods

The supervisor needs to be updated and conscious related to new development and amendments regarding the production and market trends. So, the work of supervisor is to invent latest technique which saves production time and involves less workers wastage which could result in:

  • Higher productivity|
  • High morale of workers
  • Satisfying working condition
  • Improving human relations
  • Higher profits
  • High stability

Enforcing Discipline

A supervisor can undertake many steps to maintain discipline in the concern by continuous checking and necessary measures such as strictness in orders and instructions, keeping an account of general discipline of factory, implementing penalties and punishments for the indiscipline workers. All these above steps help in improving the overall discipline of the factory

Effective Supervision

Effective Supervision Effectiveness of a supervisor is judged on the basis of how he is contributing to his organization by his work. Thus, he and his effectiveness can be measured in terms of his qualities, his supervisory process and the result of his actions. All these are to be related to the contributions to the achievement of organizational objectives. Following are some of the elements of effective supervisory practices:


It is an act influencing activities related to individual or groups so as to attain goals in a particular manner. With this, an individual or group be able to share willingly to achieve goals.

Closeness of Supervision

It is the degree of closeness where the supervision varies from close-supervision to free-supervision. The quality of good supervisors is to monitor and supervise with less close supervision. It is seen that a close supervision will result in low morale and motivation as it stops the satisfaction as per the strongly feelings of subordinates.

Employee-orientation or Human Relations

It is studied that both employees and work are taken care with the help of two styles such as employee-oriented and production-oriented. It is seen that in employee oriented style, there exists great stress in interaction of employee?s jobs where as in production oriented style, the production and technical aspects depends on jobs and employees.

Thus, effective supervision is employee-oriented which creates a feeling in the minds of subordinates that their interests are taken into consideration in organizational practices. High producing workers are also of this opinion that they prefer employee-oriented technique because supervisors take personal interest in them, which motivates the workers.

In this atmosphere, the various problems being faced by workers can be discussed with the supervisors concerned in order to find out their optimal solution.

Group Cohesiveness

the belonging ness to high-producing group enhances the members? regard for dignity of their own job. The amount of dignity assigned by group members to their own jobs is highly associated with group cohesiveness. An effective supervisor attempts for maintaining group cohesiveness by infusing confidence and trust in employees.


Appropriate delegation leads to high productivity, in the organization. Effective supervision implies adequate delegation. A supervisor should not make any decision, which his subordinates can make. This not only develops confidence in the subordinates but also motivates them for better performance, besides saving a superiors time to concentrate for other work.

Other Factors

It is found that there are certain factors apart from discussed above where supervision serves as an effective trend. In this, the subordinates will feel that the supervisor which can set superiors and satisfy their needs in terms of promotion, recognition and work centered will get more benefits.

Direction and Supervision

Sometimes, confusion arises between direction and supervision. The basic reason for such confusion is the context in which the term supervision is used. Therefore, two terms- direction and supervision- differ in terms of context and content. The term supervision is used in two ways.

First, it is used as an element of direction and, therefore, every manager in the organization performs the function of supervision irrespective of his level in managerial hierarchy. In this context, supervision involves guiding the efforts of others to achieve the stated objectives.

For example, Terry and Franklin have defined supervision as, “guiding and directing efforts of employees and other resources to accomplish stated work outputs.” Thus, the scope of supervision is much more limited as compared to that of direction, which includes motivating and leading employees and communicating with them, besides guiding them.

Second, the term supervision is used to denote the functions performed by supervisors- a class of personnel between management and operatives. When supervision is used in this context, it includes all supervisory functions, which include planning organizing, staffing, directing and controlling with varying emphasis on different functions.

In this context, Newman and Warren have defined supervision as the day-to-day relationship between an executive and his immediate assistant and covers training, direction, motivation, Coordination, maintenance of discipline, etc. Thus, it becomes much wider than directing particularly at supervisory level.


What is Supervision?

Supervision means the act of watching over the work or tasks of another who may lack full knowledge of the concept at hand. Supervision does not mean control of another but guidance in a work, professional or personal context.

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