A Supervisor is one, who in the words of Emerson, “is the rich man who can avail himself of all men’s faculties”. Being in motion, on an automotive basis, is self-propelling. Essentially it means to be able to move forward with your own force. The energy being generated internally. The action required or done is without any external force or energy. In the context of human resources, the external forces could be many, tangible and non- tangible; internal forces are, self-inspired motivation, to act. The work is done due to passion, that yields satisfaction and reward, of the intangible nature, leading to a soothing feeling of self-fulfillment. Such individuals require no external inputs of motivation. They are an inspired lot.
The success of any initiative, including business, is dependent upon the team created for the purpose. The effort of any management is directed at fusing a comprehensive team together; the word, or title, ‘Manager’ or ‘Management’, means to ‘supervise all resources, amongst which, human resource, is the single most important constituent. For the realisation of corporate objectives, it is significant to assemble like-minded persons, each with their individualistically unique and different skills and traits.
Disharmony in a team is always the number one reason for the collapse of efforts and non-achievement of goals. If the various units of ‘energy’ are not directed towards a unified purpose, objective or destination, it is unlikely that the pursuit will result in achievement of any sorts. Every team must have initiators, who think on their own and act on their own, without compromising the governance structure of the organisation. They eventually get into leadership positions.
From the Fables (stories) of Mahmud Ghaznvi, the ruler and plunderer of many kingdoms, and his slave servant, Ayaz; I have learnt lessons on management, and in particular of what, ‘least supervision’ means. Ghaznvi would assign tasks to Ayaz; in accomplishing the tasks, he rarely asked for details of how, why, when and where; instead he would be ready for the next task, while pushing, the one at hand. Ayaz, never wasn’t unavailable to Ghaznvi because he was busy. Always at his beck and call. With great sense of anticipation, that was predominant in his personality, he would know what the next question or assignment, his King, would ask for; and for that, he was always fully prepared.
In relation to the task, Ayaz, would be in a state of complete preparedness, to answer the minutest detail or to just present an overall picture. This quality of Ayaz to simultaneously be a big picture person and to be aware of the nitty gritty, endeared him to his King. All other slaves of Mahmud Ghaznvi were envious of the attention, he received; the response of Ghaznvi to the them, would be, when I task, You, with anything, you display limited knowledge, specific to the assignment, with zero anticipation of what could follow --- Ayaz, on the contrary, lays, before me, a full canvas of the past, now and future, relative to the job. His knowledge and enquiry, of both the direct and the peripheral aspects, to the issue, are sound.
In the management of people, in our business organisations, most of us, ‘managers’ like to surround ourselves, with the ‘Ayaz’s type’, of individuals. Supervisors, the intelligent ones, are constantly in search of the ‘Ayaz’ to be part of their team.
In this quest the manager/leader is perennially evaluating his/her colleagues, who would have in them, the intellect, coupled with a heightened sense of responsibility, to undertake the assigned tasks, without having to come back and forth, to them, for either direction or for a nod of approval. It is extremely irritating, if the colleague , who ,when being given responsibility to complete any work, fails to ask relevant questions and instead keeps coming back regularly, to seek inputs or clarifications. The presence of such teammates in large numbers hampers the ability of the manager. The time of the manager is inappropriately impinged upon and is used up by those wanting validation of their efforts, every now and then.
Regrettably many don’t protest at being a ‘round hole’ who are being used as ‘square pegs’. They acquiescence. The consequence of the surrender is that the likelihood of transiting to an area of passion and interest gets eroded. The individual blocks his growth in career. With the passage of time, the ability to change and acquire a newer set of skills, gets diminished.
There are people within organisations, upon whom ‘Newton’s Law of Motion’ applies --- a body at rest, will remain at rest, until a foreign force acts upon it. The seductive temptation to remain in the comfort zone of the ‘known’ is too dominating on some workers that they just fail to capture opportunities of moving horizontally across the organogram. To ensure growth, in all its aspects, it is critical for a person to move vertically and horizontally, on the management governance structure. The movement enhances and permits to capitalise on emerging opportunities; if one is not widely trained and experienced, the possibility of promotion to higher grades of responsibility gets impaired.
Self-propelling individuals possess the unique quality of ‘knowing themselves’; they critically evaluate their professional acumen and do not wait for an annual appraisal exercise, to be told what they lack or have insufficient proficiency in some areas of operations. ‘He who does nothing renders himself incapable of doing anything, but while we are executing any work, we are preparing and qualifying ourselves to undertake another’ (William Hazlitt)
Self-propelling workers are a happy lot, their state of mind is filled with calmness and tranquillity. In view of the possession of ability to initiate things/ventures on their own, they are maturely confident in their transactions. Against this there are those who consider the assignment a curse and they find therefore more drudgery in it.
To expect that success in any pursuit will lie on the path to be just picked up is delusional thinking. The need to discover oneself through an honest and just self-appraisal is a necessity. Everyone at some point of life feels that he/she can do better. The feeling to have been able to do better, is a big ‘but’ itself, which is identification of action taken or missed, in expanding either capacities or minimising the elements that act as impediments to the process of growth.
Supervisors do not shy to engage in public appreciation of colleagues, who need the least supervision in the discharge of their responsibilities. When a coworker does not eat up into the time of the manager/leader he/she facilitates the supervisor to be able to concentrate on other areas of business. Going back and forth to seek advice, clarification, consent or approval is invariably a habit, most disliked by the managers.
Self-propellers rarely face conflict. The resistance, If any, to their entrepreneurial attitude of taking things more than assigned for their plate is also handled with confidence, through professional dexterity, that’s anchored, in the abilities, to perform with little supervision. It is only the talented that require no hand holding on an everyday basis. Colleagues, who expect to be Molly coddled in every assignment/activity are more pain than help. A good manager, with great quantum of patience will, at some time run out of it too if he/she is continuously asked to supervise every single item of their work.
Self-propellers are far and few. They need to be given a station of prominence in the management structure. A good horse is seldom spurred (Thomas Fuller).
The writer is a senior banker & a freelance columnist