The Supervisor Functions in the 21st Century

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Technology Savvy

The world is an evolving place and the supervisor in this century must be the best in two main functions that is communication and interpersonal skills. The role of a leader is constantly changing. Furthermore, the people that the supervisor is in charge learn differently and are motivated differently(Ball, 2011). The supervisor must be up to date with the constantly changing technology. Meetings are no longer confined to the boardroom.

There is the use of telecommunication systems such as teleconferencing. A rigid supervisor to the changes in technology will find it extremely hard to organize his staff with such rigidity(Humphrey, 2000). There is also the aspect of telecommuting where staff can now work from home. How will the supervisor ensure that the work objectives are being met. The supervisory skills will have to be sharpened in terms of communication (Mallinger, 1998).

The supervisor will find himself having to work with social network sites and the use of eBooks and ipads and incorporating all these technological innovations in the workplace. Many organizations have nowadays provided their staff with appropriate computer skills and training. Technology helps in having faster processing and one can get accurate data faster (Humphrey and Stokes 2000). The manager has to know how to manage change and ambiguity (Silverthorne, 2009)

Cultural Diversity

The 21st century supervisor must also know how to manage diversity in the work place. In today’s environment the workplace has become a place of multiculturalism. In an organization there will be people who are different in two areas. The first dimension of diversity refers to an individual’s race, ethnicity, age and sexual orientation. The secondary dimensions of diversity refer to educational background, income, religious beliefs and marital status.

Management should be wise in handling cultural diversity in the workplace. It can be a source of competitive advantage with the organization having a wide pool of talent and innovativeness in dealing with the highly turbulent market place. If handled poorly, it can bring the organization down through conflicts that arise due to prejudice and discrimination practices. The management should take certain steps to ensure that the organizational culture in place supports cultural diversity. The policies and values of the organization should spell out the concept of inclusivity. The staff should know that they are eligible for tasks within the organization based on their professional competence and not race, age or ethnicity. The core values of the organization should respect all the people in the organization.

A multicultural organization should ensure that both the majority and minority cultures are represented in all job levels in all functional responsibilities. Training should be carried out on all staff on accepting diverse cultures so that group based biases are eliminated (Philippe, 2011). Any form of stereotyping should be eliminated. The management should also address any hints of ethnocentrism. This is where one believes that his membership group is superior to all others. This usually occurs in the organizational subcultures such as occupational and functional subcultures.

Empowering staff

The 21st century supervisor should empower his or her staff(Altman, 2005). This should not be a one-time process but an everyday practice. Empowerment is whereby the accountability and responsibility of work lies with the particular staff that actually does the work with minimum supervision (Lionclub, 2011). It is not simply about delegation. It is about letting the concerned staff be creative in their role. The supervisor should have the attitude that the staff’s talents and creative ideas are a great asset and should be maximized on to contribute to the organization positively with.

To do this, the supervisor has to give the staff the power and authority to be creative or innovative. They should be involved in decision making and problem solving processes with low intervention from their line managers. There are many advantages of employee empowerment. Staff are motivated and committed to their job as they take ownership of the challenges at work and seek for solutions.

The dormant talent that was in the organization is reactivated for use. The process of empowerment however should be managed well or there will be problems. The supervisor should not have unrealistic expectations of the employees. The performance objectives and measures should be agreed together with the staff. Extra responsibilities should be accompanied by an increase in pay or benefits to avoid employee resentments.

Creating an Ethical Culture

The 21st century leader should also instill a culture of ethics. It is important to instill ethics in the organization(Brimmer, 2007). As management there are several steps that have to be taken to ensure that an ethical culture is being built into the organization.

There should be value statements and the company has to ensure that what is stated in the statements reflects the organization’s actions and decision making processes. If they do not tally the employees will not be able to relate with the values. Secondly there should be a code of conduct in the organization with management ensuring it is adhered to. The code of conduct gives the organizational policies and the required conduct of the employees in the different departments as per policy.

There can also be a section with frequently asked questions to assist the staff. The executive or the management should also embody the values of the organization. They should not only talk the values but practice them as they are the role models in the organization. There should be constant trainings and communications for both the new and existing staff. The training should not be mostly online or too short.

The company should invest and maximize on trainings. The systems in the organization should embody values. The performance appraisals should have values incorporated. Key decisions should be made in light of the values. The values should be embedded into the operating systems of the company. The management should have appropriate mechanisms to address difficult cases. A committee can be set up to analyze the cases. There should be transparency or an open door culture with the employees knowing they will not lose jobs or face hostility for implementing values in their work life.

Hotlines are helpful for staff to report cases of non-compliance and still maintain anonymity. For the system to work there should be an ethics officer or manager in charge of ethics in the company. He should continually audit the values, implementation and bottlenecks in the process. Revised values can be rolled out every three years in consideration of the progress and changes in the organization. This process should be an ongoing process and staff and management should not lose the vision of being the ethical organization.

The benefits of an ethical organization are employee work-fulfillment, high morale, great communication and teamwork, reduced conflicts and fraud related incidents.

Motivating Staff

The 21st century should also know how to greatly lead and motivate the employees (Jayavaman, 20. There should be a great recognition policy in the company. There should be awards and other kinds of rewards for the employees who excel in their duties. They can even be taken for motivational retreats. The appraisal system in the organization should be transparent and clear. The employee should understand how it works and what causes high and low scores. As mentioned, after appraisal rewards should be given. The pay in the company should also be competitive compared to other companies.


Altman, W. (2005) Leadership and Management in the 21st Century. Web.

Brimmer, S. (2007) The Role of Ethics in 21st Century Organizations. Web.

Ball, D. (2011) The 21st Century Leader Must Know How to Organize and Collaborate. Web.

Humphrey, B. (2000) The 21st Century Supervisor. Web.

Humphrey, B. and Stokes, J. (2000) The 21st Century Supervisor. Web.

Jayaraman, V. (2010) Managers Crucial Core Competencies for 21st Century. Web.

Lionclub (2011) Managers Crucial Core Competencies for 21st Century . Web.

Mallinger, M. (1998). Management Skills for the 21st Century: Communication and Interpersonal skills rank first. Graziado Business Review, Volume 1(2). Web.

Philippe, M. (2011). Corporate Diversity Training: Is Yours Meeting 21st Century Needs?. Web.

Silverthorne, S. (2009) 5 Personal Core Competencies for the 21st Century. Web.

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