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What good supervisors are made of.

HOW OFTEN DO WE HEAR PEOple say, "If I were the supervisor I would..."? After becoming a supervisor, many of these same people are then heard moaning, "Why did I ever become a supervisor?" They undoubtedly enjoy their new pay, but that doesn't mean they are more satisfied or even enjoy their work.

The frustrations that go with being a security supervisor are often brought about by lack of adequate training. Too many organizations fail to provide basic training to supervisors, or they provide the wrong material. Therefore, supervisors think they are something they really aren't. Their expectations for themselves and their employees are not being met or fulfilled.

This feeling leads to general frustration on the job, lack of motivation, deterioration of self-esteem, and a decline in the organization's security effectiveness. As a result, supervisors overcompensate for their shortcomings. They create needless paperwork and establish a make-work environment for themselves. To them, the process of supervision becomes more important than ensuring productivity.

When supervisors are given training in principles of supervision, they are usually taught PODSCORB or a similar theory. PODSCORB is a popular acronym for planning, organizing, directing, staffing, coordinating, reporting, and budgeting.

The problem with teaching this theory is that an administrative and managerial theory is being taught to those who have a totally different role in the organization. Although a security supervisor is a part of the management team, he or she has a much different function in the overall scheme of events.

While supervisors may perform some of the functions defined in PODSCORB, such as planning, organizing, staffing, reporting, and budgeting, the fact remains: the supervisor's role is to supervise. As a part of management, supervisors should at least be aware of management and administration processes, but they do not need total exposure to it. Instead, emphasis in their training should be on directing, controlling, coordinating, communicating, motivating, and leading. In other words, people skills.

Once supervisors know what is expected of them, they will feel better about themselves, work with more confidence, and develop pride in their work. Since pride and other positive feelings spread, the entire organization benefits.

Also, when a supervisor knows what supervision really entails, the job becomes less difficult and more manageable. In fact, the job loses some of the negative aspects of a job" and takes on more characteristics of a profession. While this approach may not lower a supervisor's frustration level, it will help the supervisor get a better handle on frustrations that come with the job.

Management denotes the process of directing and controlling employees and events to accomplish organizational objectives. Supervision, as part of the management process, refers to overseeing employees. A worker's morale and performance are more strongly influenced at the supervisory level than by any other facet of the work environment.

Employees are responsible for production, and the supervisor is responsible for employees. Production refers to a particular return received for a given unit of input. To increase productivity means to get a greater return for a given investment. Increasing security productivity means improving current security practices to the best level possible to get better performance without a proportionate increase in cost.

It also means allocating resources to activities that give the highest return for each dollar spent. Productivity is closely akin to effectiveness, not only whether the job was done efficiently (productivity), but how well it was done (effectiveness) in contributing to the organization's objectives.

A supervisor is responsible for developing teamwork and making the work force into a well-functioning, smoothly-operating unit. He or she guarantees that the organization's objectives are met by getting activities done through employees. The supervisor interprets management's policies and procedures to the work force and serves as the buffer between management and labor.

Because the supervisor is selected by management, his or her official authority is derived from that source. The supervisor's real authority, however, comes from the spirit of cooperation, respect, and confidence he or she gets from subordinates.

Supervisors' responsibilities can be grouped into three general areas: directing people, controlling people's activities, and developing people. The argument can be made that these responsibilities include most of the elements of management and administration.

Supervisors do some planning, which involves finding and analyzing facts to determine present and future needs. Organizing and staffing involve assigning security officers to the positions for which they are best suited and to the places and at the times they are most needed. Coordinating is a core function of supervision. Reporting is a function from which nobody can escape. Budgeting is the manager's or administrator's job. Let's now look more closely at the supervisor's direct responsibilities.

Supervision involves guiding employees, usually subordinates, toward accomplishing goals established by planning within prescribed guidelines and according to set procedures. The chief security administrator is concerned with achieving goals and the supervisor is concerned with the procedures for achieving those goals.

The function of direction involves not only putting a prepared plan into operation but also following up through observation and inspection to determine that work is done properly. This process involves coordination not only with security administrators but also with the work force, other supervisors, other units within the parent organization, and possibly outside agencies or people.

Supervisors must win the support of their subordinates by correctly interpreting the administration's policies and procedures, explaining their desirability, and instructing and assisting in their execution. It is here that leadership skills and abilities are most important. The supervisor must be alert to discover evidence of the success or failure of the policy, detect weaknesses, and recommend changes.

PROPER DIRECTION OF EMPLOYEES CANnot be achieved without good communication. The ability to communicate clearly and concisely is the single most important skill of a supervisor because it is basic to understanding the subordinate's point of view and passing on to him or her the organization's objectives. This is why the supervisor's role of buffer between management and the work force should be understood by all. Without clear communication, there can be no coordination.

Communication is accomplished not only with words but also with tones and deeds. Often these are more important than verbal expressions. Sometimes what is not said is more important than what is said. Supervisors and employees who can communicate effectively with each other have fewer misunderstandings, make fewer mistakes, create less friction and waste, and are able to deal more effectively with disagreements and other problems. As a result, the organization and its employees are more productive.

The communication process involves many factors-cultural, environmental, and psychological. With such a diversity of influences affecting good communications, there will inherently be a number of barriers. They may be physical loud noises, somebody else's voice); visual (looking out a window during a conversation); personal (fatigue, illness); attitudinal (biases and prejudices, differences in rank and title); or semantic (different meanings for the same word). Two important points should be considered in breaking down communication barriers: (1) failure to listen is probably the biggest barrier to effective communication and (2) two-way communication is more accurate than one-way communication.

If the organization is to be productive, communication barriers need to be overcome. This responsibility is largely the supervisor's and can be accomplished if the supervisor

* determines the objectives of the communication,

* practices empathy,

* obtains feedback-both verbal and nonverbal,

* keeps subordinates informed,

* is consistent in communicating,

* makes action speak louder than words by practicing what he or she preaches, and

* listens, understands, and is understood.

Remember, communication is a two-way process. Employees are generally wary of being controlled or of any function that even hints at impeding their activities. The very word control brings to mind a police officer directing traffic or parents disciplining their children.

The truth, though, is that every organization must control its personnel. It is through control that the organization accomplishes its goals and objectives in an orderly and responsible manner and that employees are held accountable for their actions.

Problems usually result from the way control is exercised. Control can come from a tyrannical management system or from a system of leadership. Both systems can be found today, but the leadership system is more effective because employees don't view it as negative.

Anyone who gives an order must make sure it has been properly executed. Inspection is the way to determine that the process is followed and the task is completed. In this regard, control is not a negative function of supervision; it is merely a concept that ensures that management's policies are properly carried out.

The supervisor fulfills his or her control responsibility through following up with inspections and report reviews, taking disciplinary action when necessary, providing corrective measures, and guiding employees and operations for which he or she is held directly accountable.

General supervisory control is concerned with daily supervision of subordinates' activities and the oversight of routine security operations and services. It is at the daily, operational level that the supervisor's presence and leadership ensure program development, support of policies, and conformance with procedures.

Control must be provided so that all who exercise authority will be held responsible for their actions. Control and coordination are the glue that hold the organization together.

Employee development is the crux of the supervisor's job. It is the area in which much self-satisfaction can be gained. It is also perhaps the most frustrating part of the job because the spotlight is on the supervisor from all sidessubordinates, peers, superiors, and self. All the previous functions discussed have been command functions in which the supervisor plays an important part. Now, the supervisor is in charge.

Since a person cannot be held responsible for accomplishing an order unless he or she has been delegated the authority to accomplish it, the supervisor must be able to delegate effectively. In delegating tasks, the supervisor should give the subordinate sufficient authority to match the responsibility given.

Once a task has been delegated, the supervisor's job begins. It is now time to make sure that the task is carried out according to management's wishes. Management should be concerned only with the end result; supervisors should be concerned about how the end result is achieved (policy versus procedure). If the supervisor delegates well, he or she will save valuable time for performing other supervisory responsibilities rather than performing routine operational activities.

Motivation and leadership are two of the most important qualities needed to be a truly effective supervisor. What motivates employees to work for their supervisor or their organization?

One of the biggest mistakes supervisors make is not having a clear understanding about what motivates their employees. The worst assumption is thinking that subordinates are motivated primarily by one thing. Different employees are motivated by different things. A supervisor needs to know his or her employees. The supervisor who continually reflects an aura of strong self-motivation in front of subordinates will have little trouble motivating them.

Studies have proven that job security, high pay, and good benefits are not the factors that really motivate employees. These studies also have proven that some of the best motivators include treating employees with respect, providing interesting and challenging work, recognizing good work, and providing a chance to develop skills.

Supervisors generally do not have much influence in determining job security, pay rates, or benefits-these are usually a managerial prerogative. But, supervisors do have direct control and influence over the job environment and the work force. Good supervisors will never make subordinates feel unworthy or unappreciated. It is their primary responsibility to develop employees, not put them down.

A supervisor should know his or her subordinates well enough to know what personal needs they are trying to satisfy. Does the employee feel his or her current job does not carry enough status or prestige? Does the employee feel it's time to move into a new job for personal growth? Is the employee seeking a challenge and chance for achievement? Or, is the employee looking only for a higher salary?

EMPLOYEE NEEDS CAN AND SHOULD BE satisfied without impeding organizational goals. When employees' personal and professional needs are met, the organization as well as the employees will thrive.

Toward this end, the supervisor should work with individual employees to explain how supervisory actions and decisions will help them achieve the job rewards that will satisfy their personal needs. Supervisors should be careful, though, that that relationship doesn't become too friendly and personal.

Under no circumstances should a supervisor manipulate employees by inducing them to act against their own self-interest. Although manipulation may work temporarily, eventually employees will realize they are being used. Employees produce best when they are given positive incentives.

They get more satisfaction from doing a job well and knowing that others, particularly superiors, have taken note of their efforts. The best and cheapest supervision can be accomplished by using just a few words: "thank you," you did a good job ... .. thanks for a job well done," etc.

Praise and recognition no doubt are the best motivators that cause employees to work harder and smarter for both themselves and the organization. But occasionally an employee or two will not respond to positive incentives and will require other methods of supervision. A supervisor should always be prepared to take more extreme actions with these employees.

For them, supervision can include stronger forms of discipline, such as a reprimand, deprivation of days off or overtime, demotion, or loss of pay for a short period. While the purpose of discipline is to impose a penalty on the wrongdoer, discipline is better used to teach and train the person, maintain a level of efficiency and order in the organization, ensure smooth coordination in the organization, and develop employees' self-control and character.

When positive and constructive disciplinary means have been tried and have failed, negative motivators, such as fear, intimidation, coercion, and punishment may be necessary. These means, however, frequently cause employees to develop creative avoidance techniques. They learn how to avoid being discovered by superiors when they do something that will invoke a negative or punitive response.

If punishment is necessary, it should be meted out immediately, fairly, reasonably, and consistently. If it isn't, the employee may become frustrated, resentful, bitter, and hostile. Certainly, less than efficient and productive work can be expected in the future not only from the punished employee but from others in the same work unit. Dire punitive measures often are the beginning of the end for an employee. Punishment, therefore, should be reserved as the last resort.

When employees do need stronger methods of supervision, the corrective measures should not cause discomfort to other workers. The employee should be corrected individually and the rest of the supervisor's subordinates should continue to be led, not punished.

Discipline and punishment are not ordinarily tools of the trade for a good leader. Leaders lead, not push. They set an example; they make employees want to be like them. They inspire trust, respect, and dignity. Most importantly, they inspire these very traits in employees.

The supervisor's role is to motivate subordinates by providing a rewarding job and challenging environment in which they will maintain a high level of efficiency and productivity. The supervisor, being the part of management in the daily forefront of activities, must possess certain traits and characteristics that will project his or her leadership role in a positive way.

WHAT IS LEADERSHIP? IT IS THE ART (not science) of coordinating and motivating individuals and groups to achieve desired ends. Leadership is not management; it is a tool of management, a technique for influencing employees in an organization. A good leader may not be a good supervisor, although a good supervisor will probably be a good leader. Leadership is not necessarily vested in a certain person or position. It is more a function of what is done rather than who does it.

The key to leadership is influence, and the measure of success in a person's leadership ability is the extent to which others follow the leader's direction. Employees are willing to be influenced if they see the influence as being in their best interest.

Leaders are not born with leadership qualities, but the qualities can be developed. Good leadership comes primarily from within the person, not from outside. The good leader is one who leads others to lead themselves. The true leader is committed to excellence and quality and will not settle for mediocrity. He or she has high standards and sets high but realistic goals.

Self-esteem, self-motivation, and self-confidence are the bedrock of strong leadership. These are the personal qualities the good leader will want subordinates to emulate. The best leaders develop these qualities by successfully leading larger organizations and taking on greater and greater responsibilities.

A good leader knows and values the following:

* the success of perseverance

* the pleasure of working

* the value of time

* the dignity of simplicity

* the worth of character

* the power of kindness

* the influence of example

* the obligation of duty

* the wisdom of economy

* the virtue of patience

* the improvement of talent

* the joy of originating

To become a good leader, one must be willing to develop his or her own destiny as well as create the desire in his or her subordinates to do the same. The sixth-century BC Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu expressed this idea when he wrote:

A leader is best

When people barely know he exists,

Not so good when people obey and

acclaim him,

Worse when they despise him.

But of a good leader, who talks little,

When his work is done, his aim


They will say:

We did it ourselves.

The best leaders know themselves, their strengths, their weaknesses, their skills, and their abilities. Most of all, they know how to control themselves and present a commanding image that will inspire subordinates. They commit themselves to continually developing the following leadership characteristics in themselves and their subordinates:

* friendliness, sincerity, concern for others, and personal warmth

* enthusiasm for the job and all it entails

* ambition

* physical and nervous energy and vitality

* moral integrity

* intelligence and common sense

* technical skill

* faith and confidence in self and subordinates

* verbal aptitude

* courtesy, consideration, and politeness

* modesty and humility

* self-control, dependability, empathy, good judgment, originality, versatility, adaptability

* a sense of humor and plenty of patience

* In sum, security supervisors should be trained in that area in which they operate-the "people" side of the organization. By learning the human dynamics of management, supervisors can make their job less burdensome and more enjoyable.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:training security supervisors
Author:Vail, Christopher L.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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Next Article:How security and quality go hand in hand.

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