THE SUPERVISOR’S ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITY IN THE MODERN ORGANIZATION “Model the behavior you desire from others.” Cliff Goodwin
After you have finished reading this chapter, you should be able to: • Describe five benefits that supervisors receive from their position in management • Describe five to seven ways to put more leadership into your management style • List and describe three sources of power • Describe three ways to increase motivation through mutual rewards • List and describe two ways a supervisor can help employees find value in their job
or years the role of the working or front-line supervisor has been considered by many organizations to be little more than a stepping-stone into management. Business and management schools devoted their attention primarily to teaching principles and theories applicable to upper management. Many professors figured their graduates would hold down beginning supervisory roles for a short period and then move into something more challenging. How things have changed!
Top Management Middle Management Supervisors Employees
Typical Organizational Chart
The Supervisor’s Role and Responsibility in the Modern Organization
Today’s organizations are complex. Some of the complexity is due in part to the following: • A more culturally diverse workforce than ever before. • Molding a productive team out of a mix of full-timers, part-timers, “temps,” and contract workers. • Implementation of quality and productivity programs such as: ISO certification and six sigma, JIT and lean manufacturing, and organizing work using self-directed teams. • Enforcing the ever-growing number of employment laws pertaining to: hiring and dismissal, anti-discrimination, sexual harassment, disability accommodation, workplace violence, FLMA, OSHA, HIPPA, worker’s compensation, overtime, and ergonomics. • Globalization and international competition, downsizing, outsourcing, and flattening the organizational structure by removing levels of management.
THE GOOD NEWS FOR SUPERVISORS
To meet all the challenges inherent in the complexity of modern organizations, the role of the front-line supervisor has changed dramatically. This is great news for someone aspiring to become a front-line supervisor because, while challenging, these changes present tremendous career and growth opportunities. 1. The stature of the front-line supervisor has been elevated. Instead of being a bit player at the bottom rung of the management ladder, the supervisor has become a key position. The obvious reason is because many middle- and upper-level management positions have been eliminated. Organizations are “flattening” their organizational hierarchy. There are fewer middle- and upper-level managers in flat organizations. The flat organizational structure means that more authority, power, and responsibility are being delegated to lower-level managerial positions. The talent and skill of the supervisor in a flat organization is a major factor to its success. 2. Empowerment of the supervisor’s job is ongoing. Some of the “power” previously held by those whose jobs have been eliminated will be delegated to the supervisors they used to supervise. This shift means that the line supervisor or “team leader” of the past can take a more positive stance. She or he can submit new suggestions with more freedom and more influence. In short, the line supervisor will play a bigger role in the total management team. Upper management (those left) will have to listen more and react to what they hear. 3. Supervisors have more autonomy. With fewer directives to follow, fewer inspections from those above, and fewer people to please, supervisors have the power and responsibility to run their departments or “teams” more like the owner of a small business might do....
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