Techniques of Supervision:
Supervision is a skill. It is an art. It is also a technique. It can be effectively effected through several techniques or methods.
According to John D. Millet, there are six techniques of supervision. These can be discussed as under:
(1) Prior Approval- It is one of the most common supervision techniques. It implies that before taking the initiative to do some work, the supervisor must become aware of the policies and plans of the organization. He should know all relevant facts regarding the approval of these policies, their objectives, and their goals. Each subordinate must get prior approval from the superior authority before undertaking the task. In this way, the Supervisor becomes aware of the policies and plans of the organization in advance which provides him with an opportunity to have full control over the project. He may suggest some improvements and changes in the scheme of the project.
No doubt, it is a useful method with the top management for exercising effective supervision of the organization, but it suffers from certain drawbacks. Often, this technique leads to delays in the execution of projects. It increases red-tapism and can create tensions between the employees and the supervisor.
(2) Service Standards- Supervision can also be effected on the basis of definite service outputs and standards. Fixation of performance standards as well as efforts designed to secure the realization of such standards is a recognized technique of supervision. Millet says, “Service standards are necessary in government in order to ensure that work is done promptly and properly. In any large organization, there is likely to be a definite tendency to establish a routine, which becomes even more important than rendering service. Only if a constant standard is set up for the performance of the work itself can the inclination to procrastination and delay be overcome.”
Service standards serve as norms for determining how efficiently the operating units perform the tasks assigned to them. They give a measuring rod to the supervisor to measure the output of his subordinates and provide him with an opportunity to take disciplinary action against those who do not reach the expected levels. The service standards have to be both qualitative as well as quantitative. At the lower levels of the hierarchy, these are more quantitative while at the high levels, these are more qualitative.
(3) Work Budget- Work Budget is another important technique of supervision. It involves the apportionment or delegation of work to various employees and the supervisor is required to oversee the carrying out of the assigned tasks within the fixed time schedule. It is an effective means of control over administration. It fixes the magnitude of the work to be done by an operating agency during a fixed period. It also makes the control of the top management effective as the operating agencies are restricted to spending the money in accordance with the provisions of the budget. The Work Budget allotment is a method of delegating authority as well as retaining central control over the magnitude of work as a whole.
(4) Approval of Personnel- Another popular technique of supervision is the approval of personnel, particularly of the higher personnel. This technique is common among governmental agencies. It involves the right to approve the selection and appointment of personnel particularly the higher level appointments. This enables the top management to have an effective control over the organization. The operating agencies are permitted to make recruitment of subordinate staff. Generally, recruitment to public agencies is made through a central personnel agency commonly known as the public service commission.
(5) Reporting- Reporting is also a well-recognized and important technique of supervision. The top management gets reports from different operating units. Evaluation of these reports is made by the supervisor. These reports can be daily or weekly or fortnightly or monthly or quarterly or half yearly or yearly according to requirements. These reports can be descriptive or empirical or both. These can be short-term or long-term reports. Continuous and regular periodic or annual reporting is a technique of supervision. Seckler Hudson broadens the scope of reporting by including within it the entire field of communication. According to him, “It reaches not only upward, but also downward, onward, around and within a given organization. It must reach across to other agencies doing similar work and up and out to the governmental agencies and the office of the President. These reports can be all-embracing overall reports or specific and particular reports on particular policies, decisions, projects, or works. These can embrace the broad scope of all major activities, or these can be confined to a few essentials.”
(6) Inspection- Inspection is a universally practiced technique of supervision. It is also a very useful technique of supervision. Inspection means to observe whether the field agencies are working according to established norms, rules, and procedures or not, and to see whether or not their performance is up to the expectation of the central office. It also is a means of acquiring information by the supervisor or the superiors and of passing that information to the higher authorities. Inspections help to clarify the management’s purpose and intentions. It helps to hold personal relationships of mutual acquaintance and confidence. It is indeed an effective and commonly practiced technique of supervision. It ensures regular and continuous evaluation of the work of the personnel and the organization.
To sum up, we can say that supervision is an important and essential principle of organization. It is a tool of control over the activities of the personnel and the different units of the organization. Effective and systematic supervision is a source of organizational effectiveness since it is a means of running the organization harmoniously, skilfully, accurately, intelligently, enthusiastically, systematically, and completely.