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The roles and functions of a supervisor Essay

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Updated: Jan 13th, 2020

Supervision as a practice in management is a historical concept that has been embraced since time immemorial. Some employees within an organization assume superior role and watch over their colleagues as they perform various designated duties (Dess, 2000, p. 18). Historically, initial roles and functions of a supervisor were to oversee the working of other employees, give instructions on how a task was to be carried out and also ensure that instructions were followed to the letter (Uniquetrainingvideos, 2010a).

However, in the past few decades of the 21st century, supervision has undergone dynamic and diverse changes owing to the changing composition and behavior of the workforce revolution (Dess, 2000, p. 22).

It is important to mention that the changes have led to the emergence of new principles in an attempt to meet the new demands of a technologically savvy workforce who are more educated as well as capable of counteracting the dynamism that have been observed in organizational developments. On the same note, supervision dynamism of the 21st century has been heightened as the world experiences tremendous changes in all aspects of life (Austin & Hopkins, 2004, p. 18).

This implies that the supervisor’s job is even more complex in the 21st century than it was during the 20th Century. Austin and Hopkins (2004, p. 18) underscore that success in the supervisory role will demand more expertise than it was necessary a century ago.

Despite these dynamic changes, the roles and functions of a supervisor still retain its crucial position within an organization (USAFHRMS, 2011). It is indisputable that the historical roles and functions of a supervisor might be out dated in the 21st century, but Dess (2000, p. 20) emphasizes that the changes should be viewed as modification rather than complete elimination of how the things were conducted initially. The concern of this paper was to analyze the roles and functions of the 21st century and also to explore how the same is displayed in popular culture whereby YouTube videos were adapted for this task.

It is imperative to underscore that, the person at the helm of supervisor’s position is faced with multidisciplinary roles as explained in this paper. Firstly, as the leader of a team, a supervisor assumes the crucial role of a coach as explained by the speaker in Uniquetrainingvideos (2010b). The speaker in the above video explains that a supervisor should employ special skills to correct employee’s performance problems. Towards the end of the video is a demonstration of the best approach to use while coaching employees.

The supervisor in this video summons a worker in his office and inquires why his performance is deteriorating. The worker admits that he is unable to keep up with the speed. At this juncture, the supervisor offers to help the worker through his task as an attempt to improve his performance (Uniquetrainingvideos, 2010b) The role of a coach is further highlighted in Wavideo (2008a) video.

This video which is a docu-drama the voice explains the significant skills that are necessary to execute this role. In addition, the clip demonstrates a situation where a supervisor coaches an employee in order to improve performance standards in a certain task and also reminds the worker about the end expected end results.

Secondly, he/she acts as an educator. In Lppicutres (2009) the supervisors are undergoing training where the speaker emphasizes that they have to supervise through teaching. As the video progresses, the supervisors are dispersed to their respective areas and we are able to see one of them executing the role of an educator.

From the video, it is evident that the supervisors does not just teach verbally but also through demonstration of the right way to perform a task. The supervisor also acts as an educator whereby he/she takes new employees through the induction process as demonstrated in Moveclips (2011a) video.

From this video, the supervisor welcomes a new employee and also extends a welcome tour around the company as she explains the functions of each department. The speaker in Lppicutres (2009) video also emphasizes that this role is crucial to enable the new employee integrate into the system smoothly. Needless to say, each department in an organization should develop a vibrant leadership capacity among those who have been appointed as supervisors.

Thirdly, a supervisor assumes the role of a planner as he/she is responsible for execution of daily work schedules within an organization (Lppicutres (2009). In addition, he/she assigns duties to the various workers under his supervision depending on the workers ability especially in factory settings where there is no specialization (Lppicutres (2009).

The speaker in Socialworkers (2011) video explains about the various roles of supervisor whereby she emphasizes that being a planner is very significant. Furthermore, Lppicutres (2009) provides a clear demonstration of this significant role.

On the same note a supervisors assumes the role of an inspector, to ensure that employees complete theirs tasks as assigned and incase of repeated violation he/she can report to the management (Dowling, 2001, p. 202). As a matter of fact, they he/she directs his team to explore alternative solutions to whatever problems the task force comes across.

The Articunoboy12 (2011) video demonstrates this significant role. In this video, the supervisor summons a worker to his office and informs him that he has noted his constant lateness habit. In addition, he tells the worker to explain the reasons for his lateness and also informs him how lateness affects productivity

In addition, he/she performs the role of a counselor whereby he promotes good relations thus enhancing corporation among the workers (Dowling, 2001, p. 202). In fact, the position places a supervisor within the vicinity of the workers problems and more often than not he acts as a mediator between management and workers incase of any looming problems.

In case, the problem do not warrant the attention of the management he/she handles whatever grievances arises to the satisfaction of the team members. In addition, he/she counsels the employees about unhealthy habits which hinder performance and issues warning incase of repeated cases of indiscipline (Dowling, 2001, p. 202).

The video by Articunoboy12 (2011) serves demonstrates more than one role, but the role of a counselor comes out clearly. In this video, after the worker has explained the reasons for his lateness, the supervisor assumes the role of a counselor and advices the worker on how to avoid this problem in future.

The fact the position of a supervisor has remained intact despite the dynamic and overhaul changes occurring within organizations underscores that the position is highly significant for smooth operations of an organization. For this reason, it is important that we highlight some of the functions of a supervisor especially in the 21st century workplace environment.

Firstly, a supervisor’s role in an organization is planning and organizing whereby he/she keep tabs of the work schedule, and since he is most knowledgeable a supervisor delegates duties to his team members as per their aptitudes, skills and interests as demonstrated in PublicResourceOrg (2009). The above video was created to compare good and bad supervision skills. The supervisor in the video is seen allocating duties to the workers and this demonstration serves to underscore the planning and organizing function of a supervisor.

Furthermore, the supervisors in Wavideo (2008b) video clip demonstrate how to be an effective organizer. In the video, the supervisor allocates duties to workers who in turn refuse to perform the assigned task. The video further demonstrates how to handles such difficult cases.

Secondly, his other function is provisions of condusive working conditions (WorksafeBC, 2006). This is whereby a supervisor ensures the working conditions are hygienic and healthy in terms of ventilation, water facilities and so on.

In WorksafeBC video, the trainer explains that it is the function of the supervisor to ensure that accidents in the workplace do not occur. Similarly, the video by Willeb189 (2010) demonstrates a situation whereby the supervisor is concerned about the workers working conditions due to the delayed payments and how it is affecting the workers performance.

Thirdly, under the leadership and guidance function a supervisor uses effective leadership skills to influence the workers to employ their best skills for profitability of the organization (Jwavideo, 2008). In addition, he/she communicates the expected targets level and provides guidelines to enable the workers to reach the same (Uniquetrainingvideos, 2010a).

The clip by AshevilleVideo (2010) is a cartoon demonstration of what a supervisor or rather manager is expected to conduct him/herself when delegate the role of the supervisor. From the video, it is stated a leader in this case a supervisor should be a knowledgeable person to be able to provide efficient leadership to his team.

Fourthly, a supervisor is recognized as a motivator whereby he employs different skills to make the workers deliver their best (Jwavideo, 2008). Similarly, in Eddyj25 (2006) video the function of the supervisor as a motivator is clearly evident.

The leader of the troop commends the three gentlemen for their achievement in the assigned tasks whereby he gives them medals and encourages them to continue with the good. According to (Jwavideo, 2008) recognition for commendable work goes along way to motivate workers whether in terms of words or materials things.

In addition, he performs the controlling function whereby he ensures that performance targets are met within the allocated time (USAFHMS, 2011).

In this video, an expert in supervision concepts is delivering a talk about the supervisor as well as employees responsibilities within an organization. She emphasizes that after successful execution of planning and organizing function, a supervisor should conduct a follow up to ensure the allocated duties are carried out as desired; hence the controlling function She further explains that, In order to achieve success in this function, a supervisor checks progress of work and provides solutions to any problems that derail progress.

The Willieb189 (2010) portrays a situation whereby a supervisor assumes the role of a controller on the ground by identifying the problems that derail effective performance among the workers. In this clip, the supervisor reports to the boss that workers are on a go slow because the management have delayed their payment. Although he does not succeed his function is well highlighted.

Moreover, a supervisors acts as a go between the management and workers whereby he/she communicates the policies of the organizations to the workers and as well, reports workers problems to the management (Uniquetrainingvideos, 2010a). In the video by Bitbulllover999 (2011) video the supervisors performs the above function where he informs Cindy that she has been fired for lateness.

A supervisor is responsible for grievance handling since he/she is always in touch with workers on a day to day basis (Uniquetrainingvideos, 2010a). In DrCash (2008), the supervisors find two colleagues fighting and he insists on getting to the bottom of the matter despite a worker insistence that it was nothing serious. The supervisor after listening to the story behind the fights issues a stern warning to the worker to ensure a similar occurrence is not repeated.

Similarly, the video by movieclips (2011a) portrays this important function of the supervisors where he/she handles workers grievance to the best way possible. In this video, the supervisor calls a lady into his office and informs her that she is fired due to several reasons as stated. However, the lady informs him that she is pregnant hence her reason of being unproductive. Upon knowing this, the supervisor intervene the human resources decision on her behalf and she is restored to her position.

As well as a supervisor acts as a reporter whereby he/she reports the situation as it is on the ground to the management which includes factors like cost output and quality (Uniquetrainingvideos, 2010a). This important function is highlighted in Hippiedestroyer (2010) video. In this video the manager is informed about a coke train that has derailed. The first question that the manager inquires is whether there is a supervisor on the ground. He then goes ahead and calls the supervisor so as to get more information about the condition.

This is evident enough that a supervisor on the ground is bestowed with function of a reporter and the management recognizes this crucial function. It is also imperative to note that supervisory role may not be will be executed if an individual lacks adequate leadership qualities over and above personal abilities that come out naturally.

If supervisors are to perform their responsibilities well, then there is need to understand the various ingredients or elements that constitute effective leadership bearing in mind that both leadership and supervisory roles are dependant of each other.

At this point, it is crucial to reiterate the fact that while supervisors may be trained in order to perform their functions well, we may not forget to mention that there is other hidden elements that need to put into consideration. For instance, most supervisors who tend to perform their duties exceptionally well go beyond ordinary training.

Finally, a supervisor enforces and instills discipline among workers through several measures (USAFHRMS, 2011). In this video, the speaker explains that indiscipline cases should be dealt with immediately. To avoid cases of indiscipline a supervisor should ensures that the rules and regulations of an organization are understood beforehand by all.

One the same note, in Hippiedestroyer (2010) video, the functions of the supervisor as a disciplinarian is clearly depicted. This is evident where the manager, through call, inquires whether the crew had been tested for coke. This appears to be a clear indication that a supervisor is expected to instill discipline among workers.


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Wavideo (2008a). UWA Video: . Web.

Wavideo (2008b). WA Video: . Web.

Willieb189(2010). Hitler becomes payroll supervisor. Web.

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