No workforce is ever the same.

Ineffective supervisors try to apply the same kind of management techniques and strategies for every single team they manage, regardless of the context and the personalities involved.

There are a number of supervision models and theories which can be used by the manager to get the very best out of his or her team. Careful analysis of a new team of staff will help the manager find the best approach to take, both with the team as a whole and with each individual which makes up that team.

Theories X and Y

The social psychologist, Douglas McGregor, is famous for putting names to two kinds of managerial theories, individually known as Theory X and Theory Y.

Theory Y is based on the premise that all employees naturally enjoy their work.

Theory Y aims to prove that the only job of the supervisor is to ensure that the working environment is healthy, happy and interesting enough to ignite this natural love for work. Theory X, also put forward by Douglas, is exact opposite of Theory Y. Theory X claims that most people don’t enjoy work and that they only do it because it is something they are made to do. Under the principles of Theory X, supervisors must punish employees who slack off and use company policies to maintain a tight control over those employees who have less power in terms of the company’s hierarchical structure.

MBO framework

Peter Drucker is a management specialist and the brains behind the MBO management framework. According to Drucker,the best way of getting the best out for employees is to allow them to have an input in the company’s goals and objectives.

Supervisors who adopt the MBO framework involve all employees in decision-making which will have a direct effect on their jobs and employment conditions. Instead of sending instructions from the top-down, the MBO strategy makes good use of the human resources department and aims to integrate employees in setting individual professional targets and developmental strategies.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is in fact a behavioural theory which can be used by companies and organisations to better manage the needs and output of their employees. Maslow’s theory highlights five separate levels of personal needs.

It explains how it is very difficult for anyone to function on higher levels when the basic levels of their needs are not being met.

For example, if an employee is having to work in poor conditions, where they are cold or where their basic concerns for food and covering housing costs cannot be met, it will be difficult for him or her to produce the very best at work. Over and above the basic needs of earning a decent wage to cover costs and of being warm and comfortable at work, it’s also important for employees to feel part of a team and to feel as though they are reaching towards some of the important goals they have set for themselves in life too. When managers are attentive to helping employees reach their personal goals and stretch for higher achievements, their employees work better and the company benefits as a result.

ROWE management style

The ROWE management style is less a supervision theory and more of a model. Instead of paying employees for the amount of hours they work, they are paid for the work that they complete. ROWE stands for Results Only Work Environment and was co-created by Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler. It’s a model which works really well in the 21st century virtual office environment as the managers don’t have the worry about knowing exactly when their employees work. Instead they are able to manage the quality and quantity of work their employees produce.