What the supervisor needs to discharge his job is first of all clear cut objectives for his own activity. These objectives must be focused directly on the objectives of the business. Like all true objective, it must contain also both in terms of business results and in respect to the realization of basic beliefs and principles. They must balance the requirements of the immediate and the long range future.
The supervisor needs the authority that goes with the responsibility for reaching these objectives. He needs knowledge about the company’s operations, its structure, its goals and its performance without which his own objectives cannot be meaningful. He needs the means to reach these objective and the measurements that focus on their attainment. In fact, everything that is necessary to achieve the objectives of his department should be under his control – otherwise he cannot be held responsible.
Secondly, the supervisor needs adequate promotional opportunities and a rational promotion system based on clear performance standards.
The lack of promotional opportunities is probably the most serious complaint of supervisor and their most justified one. As many as 70 per cent of all supervisors in certain surveys say flatly that they see no opportunities for promotion no matter how well they do their job.
Depriving the supervisor of promotional opportunities is a criminal waste of human resources. Here are the people who have proven that they know how to do the things any enterprise needs, such as planning and scheduling or leading , training and placing people, Yet every company complaints bitterly that it cannot find men with these qualities. To search constantly among the supervisors for men to become managers or technical specialists would seem to be obvious necessity.
Promotional opportunities for the supervisor are also important for his performance as a manager of workers. They largely determine whether he will be motivated to strive or peak performance, or whether he will just try to get by and stay out of trouble. It is not necessary that each supervisor be promoted; no matter what we do, the percentage of supervisors actually promoted will always be limited. But it is essential that supervisors know that there are opportunities for the man who performs well. It is important that they do not feel as most of them, at least in manufacturing industry, seem to feel today that it makes no difference no their future how well they do their present job.
Not to give adequate promotional opportunities to the supervisor is a blow at the foundations of free society, and a denial of the social responsibility of the business enterprise. For the strength and cohesion of a free society rest on the reality of its promise of equal opportunity, And in industrial society this mean the chance to raise worker into management according to ability, performance and effort. That in this country the job of supervisor has always both the opportunity for the worker and the first rung on the management ladder explains in no small extent the absence of classes and class war.
For this reason, too, supervisors should be recruited from the rank and file. Denying the rank and file worker opportunities for promotion to supervisory jobs undermines his motivation. It is as incompatible with our social beliefs as is the denial of promotional opportunities to supervisors. Such a recruitment policy is also the only way to get good supervisors. There exists no acceptable substitute in the preparation of a supervisor for the actual experience of working as one of the team. The present trend toward staffing supervisory positions with boys out of college is basically irresponsible and anti social.