Supervision is an important and integral part of the task and process of management. The role of supervision is a critical one because of the direct contact and responsibility for the work of others. It used to be said that a manager did his or her job getting others to do theirs; in many ways this sums up the role of the supervisor. The role differs from that of the management in that the supervisor is unique, being the interface between management and the workforce and is the direct link between the two.
The role of the supervisor differs from that of the manager in that he or she:
I. Is in direct physical contact with non-mangers on a frequent basis
II. Is the front line of management
III. Has the chief responsibility for seeing that others fulfil their duties
IV. Has a dual loyalty and must be loyal both upwards and downwards
V. Has to face and resolve problems firsthand and often quickly
VI. Actually directs the work of others
VII. Directly enforces discipline
VIII. Due to the closeness to others, has direct knowledge and ability in health, safety and employment legislation
IX. Often has responsibility for negotiation and industrial relations within the department
However, management must ensure that supervisors understand organisational objectives and make clear the powers and limits of the supervisor’s authority and responsibilities.