According to Reh, F. J. (2007), a supervisor is the lowest, or most-junior, management position. A supervisor is responsible for the day-to-day performance of a small group. It may be a team, or a shift. The supervisor has experience in what the group does, but is not necessarily better at it than everyone he/she supervises. The supervisor’s job is to guide the group toward its goals, see that all members of the team are productive, and resolve problems as they arise. This paper aims to provide some practices a supervisor must apply to effectively manage people. DEMONSTRATING COMMUNICATION SKILLS
By definition, communication is the exchange and flow of information and ideas from one person to another (Clark, 1997). It is used in business as much as everywhere else. It can be used to inform, command, instruct, assess, influence, and persuade other people. Hence, it is important for a supervisor to learn to communicate to manage people effectively. The following are some communication skills that a supervisor must possess. Good Listening Skills According to an article entitled “Communication and Leadership,” people speak at 100 to 175 words per minute, but they can listen intelligently at 600 to 800 words per minute (WPM).
Since only a part of our mind is paying attention, it is easy to go into mind drift – thinking about other things while listening to someone. The cure for this is active listening. This includes getting information, recognizing problems, and understanding others (Clark, 1997). Learning to listen actively involves the following steps: 1. Identify the speaker’s purpose. 2. Identify the speaker’s main ideas. 3. Note the speaker’s tone as well as his or her body language. 4. Respond to the speaker with appropriate comments, and questions. Use facial expressions and body language to express the emotions you want to express.
Establish eye contact, sit up straight, and lean toward the speaker to show interest. Ask a question or make a comment from time to time to show that you are listening attentively. Providing Feedback Providing feedback ensures that the message has been understood. An effective way is for the receiver to paraphrase the sender’s message. This means placing the message in one’s own words rather than repeating the original communicator’s words. Non-verbal communication may also convey feedback such as nodding or smiling in agreement, on the other hand, wrinkling your forehead expresses confusion.
DETERMINING EFFECTIVE ORIENTATION AND TRAINING METHODS Training is another part of a supervisor’s job. It provides the employee with a background of the expectations required of him/her. It also provides an opportunity for the supervisor to show the employee how things work in the company. Determine Training Needs The purpose of training is to ensure that the employee will be able to perform the job correctly. It does not aim to solve problems because there are many factors that can cause problems in the workplace such as work procedures, equipment, or lack of employee motivation.
The following are reasons for providing training: employee’s lack of knowledge or skills; new machinery or equipment; new procedures or job change; and any aspects of behavior needing to be changed. Aside from identifying the overall company training needs, a supervisor must determine which employees need training and in what area. All employees do not have to be trained on all jobs. Train each employee on their job procedures. Develop Learning Activities Hand-in-hand with the above information, a supervisor must determine how to effectively train the employees.
Different methods work with different people. Some need one-on-one training, others need hands-on, etc. The activity must be able to train the employee to reach the goals and objectives required for his/her job. Select the training methods that will best suit your audience and their training needs for optimum learning and retention. Consider the following (“Training Program Development,” 2005): • Determine training method, (i. e. , lecture, role-play, simulation, case-study, self-instructional, on-the-job, dis¬cussion, hands-on, homework, games, or a combination of several); • Select media, (i.
e. , references, flip charts, diagrams, over¬heads, slides, films, videotapes, audiotapes, or computer based training); and • Plan guides and tests, (i. e. , instructor’s guide, student’s manual, pre-and post-test). IMPROVING PRODUCTIVITY FOR TEAMS According to (source provided by the client), productivity is the result of three separate major components—efficiency of technology, efficiency of labor, and the effectiveness of management. Technology as defined here includes new and improved methods, new ideas, inventions, and innovations, as well as new and improved materials.
Efficiency of labor is a function of the labor available and the motivation to work. Given high efficiencies of technology and labor, these inputs must be effectively combined by management if high productivity is to result. It has been said that the real meaning of productivity is “to produce more with the same amount of human effort. ” This statement is based on the fact that, over the long run, far greater gains in productivity have come from efficiency of technology and effective management than from efficiency of labor. (p. 145)
Methods Improvement Work methods improvement is used to find the most efficient way to accomplish a given task. This is accomplished by studying how the human body is used, the arrangement of the workplace, and the design of the tools and equipment. Often enough, this entails some changes in the work system in which the employees are used to and may be rejected by some. To minimize this negative feedback and encourage the employees to take up these new methods, supervisors must provide the necessary tools and know-how to simplify work.
The supervisor must believe that the new method works and follow-up on the employee, listening to his concerns and accepting other ideas on how to further improve on the method. In general, supervisors, other managers, employees, consumers, owners, and society all benefit from methods improvement. Among the potential benefits are reduced costs, higher productivity, reduced delays, higher quality, reduced waste, improved safety, and satisfied employees. Time Study The objective of a time study is to determine how long it should take an average person to perform the task in question.
The time necessary to perform a task or a group of tasks is called the standard time. A standard time represents the average time, including allowances for rest and fatigue, required to produce one unit of output. The primary use of time study is to provide standards to which employee performance can be compared. This method involves six basic steps: 1. Breaking the task down into its elemental steps, each of which is then timed. 2. Determining which elements are essential for completion of the task. 3. Determining the operating time actually required for each essential element.
4. Determining the operation time for the total task by adding the operating times of all the essential elements. (Adding all elements determined from step 3) 5. Determining the extra time allowances necessary for rest and fatigue. 6. Determining the standard time for the task by adding the required operating time and the extra time allowances. (Adding steps 4 and 5) It should be noted that all work standards should be periodically monitored and evaluated. Changes in technology, equipment, materials, and methods can all require that standards be reevaluated.
CONDUCTING PERFORMANCE APPRAISALS Performance appraisal is a process that involves communicating to an employee how well the employee is performing the job and also, ideally, involves establishing a plan for improvement. Performance appraisal systems have three principal purposes: (1) to improve employee performance in the present job, (2) to prepare employees for future opportunities that may arise in the organization, and (3) to provide a record of employee performance that can be used as a basis for future management decisions. Conducting Performance Appraisal Interviews
After evaluating the employee with the objectives stated above, the supervisor’s task is to communicate the outcome to the employee. The purposes of communicating the performance appraisal are to (1) provide the employee with a clear understanding of how the supervisor feels the employee is performing the job, (2) clear up any misunderstandings about what is expected, (3) establish a program of improvement, and (4) improve the working relationship between the supervisor and the employee3. This should be done in a private room with as little interruptions as possible.
Although being spoken to in private gives the employee a feeling of being reprimanded, this should not be so, it is a time to discuss problems, if any, and come up with solutions. It is also an opportunity for the employee to provide feedback regarding the supervisor’s work. Rewarding Performance One way of appraising employees is to award such performances. Such rewards may be intrinsic (i. e. job satisfaction and feelings of accomplishment), which are internal to the individual and are normally derived from involvement in work activities, or extrinsic (i.
e. formal recognition and promotion), which are directly controlled and distributed by the organization and are more tangible than intrinsic rewards. Providing such rewards may motivate employees to perform better and give them a sense of worth towards the company. RESOLVING CONFLICT Conflict is a condition that results when one party feels that some concern of that party has been frustrated or is about to be frustrated by a second party (Thomas, 1976). The term party in the previous sentence may refer to individuals, groups, or even organizations.
It is part and parcel of organizations since people have different personalities and/or work styles. It is important to realize that conflict that requires resolution is neither good nor bad. There can be positive and negative outcomes. It can be destructive but can also play a productive role for you personally and for your relationships-both personal and professional. The important point is to manage the conflict, not to suppress conflict and not to let conflict escalate out of control.
Many of us seek to avoid conflict when it arises but there are many times when we should use conflict as a critical aspect of creativity and motivation (Wertheim, n. d. ). Managing Conflict Unresolved conflict or conflict that is resolved poorly usually results in negative consequences such as job withdrawal behaviors, unionization activity, low morale, and lower levels of goal attainment (Olson-Buchanan, et. al, 1998). Successful resolution of conflict among employees often depends on the employees’ immediate supervisor.
The objective of the supervisor is not to resolve the conflict but to act as a referee and counselor in helping the participant(s) reach an acceptable solution. One strategy to manage conflict is to have a confrontation between the participants. The final strategy is confrontation between the participants. For this strategy to work, some basic guidelines must be followed: 1. Before the confrontation begins, review the past actions of the participants, and clarify the issues causing the conflict. 2. Encourage the participants to communicate freely.
They should get their personal feelings out in the open and should not hold back grievances. 3. Don’t try to place blame. This only polarizes the participants. 4. Don’t surprise either party with confrontations for which either party is not prepared. 5. Don’t attack sensitive areas of either party that have nothing to do with the specific conflict. 6. Don’t argue aimlessly. 7. Identify areas of mutual agreement. 8. Emphasize mutual benefits to both parties. 9. Don’t jump into specific solutions too quickly. 10. Encourage all of the participants to examine their own biases and feelings.
Organizational diplomacy Organizational diplomacy is broadly defined as strategies used to minimize conflict in a diverse workplace. It is based on a proactive, unifying approach to diversity among the participants. In this approach, employees work together toward mutually acceptable solutions, and differences among the organization’s members are used to the organization’s advantage. One of the primary tenets of the proactive approach using organizational diplomacy is to encourage employee suggestions for improving organizational climate and policies. IMPROVING EMPLOYEE RELATIONS
In order to maintain professionalism in the workplace, employees are expected to abide with the organization’s rules, standards, and policies. Employees should also be informed on the consequences if such infractions are done. Supervisors should instill this among employees through discipline. In this day and age, employees also have the right to complain regarding some conditions in the workplace. Employees can do so with a grievance procedure. In small companies, this can be dealt with at the highest management; however, in larger companies, this is delegated towards other position, especially to the immediate supervisor.
Maintaining Good Discipline Communication is one of the important ways to maintain discipline. It is important for employees to know what they are expected of and it is the supervisor’s job to do so in a constructive way. It is imperative that the supervisor ensures that the employee understands his/her objectives and other rules of the company in order to avoid conflict in the future. However, when an employee has violated such rules, a formal discipline procedure must be conducted. This usually begins with an oral warning and progresses through a written warning, suspension, and ultimately discharge.
There are some infarctions that can be handled by the supervisor directly and need not reach to a written form. Hence, a supervisor must become familiar with the law, union contract, and past practices of the organization. He/she must know his/her limitations and which actions should be taken to higher management. So as to administer discipline effectively, the supervisor must first investigate the problem (accusations must be supported by facts) then take disciplinary action. Other key features of the formal disciplinary process are immediacy, consistency, and impartiality3.
The supervisor must address the problem as soon as possible to avoid further conflict; however, without acting irrationally or emotionally. Being consistent is essential. All employees should receive the same penalties for the same kind of infractions. This goes hand in hand with impartiality in which an employee is being reprimanded for his actions and not a matter of personality or of relationship to the supervisor. As stated by (source provided by client), the supervisor should administer discipline in private.
Only in the case of gross insubordination or flagrant and serious rule violations would a public reprimand be desirable. A public reprimand helps the supervisor regain control of the situation. Even in such situations, however, the supervisor’s objective should be to regain control, not to embarrass the employee. A good supervisor praises in public and reprimands in private. (p. 387) Minimizing Grievances A grievance is a formal dispute between management and an employee or employees over some condition of employment.
The most frequently grieved problems are disciplinary actions, promotions and layoffs, and distribution of work (including overtime). The grievance procedure is a formal method for resolving grievances in which complaints are aired, ambiguities in the labor agreement are identified for settlement in future negotiations, and organizational policy is further defined. There are many reasons for allowing the supervisor to settle a complaint before it enters the grievance procedure. First, this saves time and money.
Settling the grievance at the supervisory level saves the time of higher levels of management. Second, the supervisor develops the employee’s confidence in the organization’s ability to make decisions and solve problems. Many times, an employee’s attitude about the job and the organization is based on his or her relationship with the supervisor. Thirdly, early settlement also develops the confidence of higher levels of management in the supervisor’s ability and confidence between the management in his/her ability to settle differences and avoid costly arbitration.
Early settlement also prevents minor problems from becoming major disturbances that upset morale and disrupt the entire organization. Very unusual cases or decisions that could affect many employees, however, are best referred to higher levels of management or the human resources department. An organization may be just as accountable for its supervisor’s decisions as for decisions made by the plant manager, the president, or the owner. Grievances that result in the interpretation of broad general policies and union contract clauses are generally not settled at the supervisory level.
Under no circumstances should the supervisor attempt to obstruct the grievance procedure. References Reh, F. J. “Supervisor,” in Your Guide to Management. Retrieved August 10, 2007, from http://management. about. com/od/policiesandprocedures/g/supervisor1. htm Clark, D. (1997). Communication and Leadership. Retrieved August 9, 2007, from http://www. nwlink. com/~donclark/leader/leadcom. html source from client The Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation. (2005). Training Program Development (Publication No. HS94-35B). Hansen, D. (2005). Performance Appraisal Tips Help Page.
Retrieved August 9, 2007, from http://iso9k1. home. att. net/pa/performance_appraisal. html Thomas, K. “Conflict and Conflict Management,” in Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, ed. Marvin D. Dunnette (Chicago: R and McNally, 1976), p. 891. Wertheim, E. Negotiations and Resolving Conflict. Retrieved August 9, 2007, from http://web. cba. neu. edu/~ewertheim/interper/negot3. htm Olson-Buchanan, J. , Drasgow, F. , Moberg, P. J. , Mead, A. D. , et al. , “Interactive Video Assessment of Conflict Resolution Skills,” Personnel Psychology, Spring 1998, pp. 1–24.
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