Role of a Supervisor Vs. a Manager

The manager defines goals and objectives that the supervisor implements.
The manager defines goals and objectives that the supervisor implements. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

The word management comes from the Latin phrase "manu agere" that means "to lead by the hand." The role of the manager is to plan, organize, direct and control an organization's resources to achieve a strategic plan. Whereas the manager's role is strategic, the supervisor's role is more task-oriented. The supervisor directs a group of people to achieve a specific task that is only one facet of the overall goal of the organization.


The manager in an organization is the decision-maker who plans the company's strategic plan and identifies those opportunities that can be translated into strengths, and those weaknesses that can turn into threats. The manager is the person who defines the organization's aims and objectives, whereas the supervisor is the one who applies those aims and objectives. The manager delegates, while the supervisor implements the company's objectives into tangible tasks.


The role of the manager entails organizing the company's resources to gain the maximum output out of all tangible and intangible resources. Managing resources includes managing human resources through recruitment, managing financing by outlining yearly budgets, and applying corporate rules and policies. The role of the supervisor, on the other hand, involves following and maintaining the established rules and policies of the organization, administering the funds allocated to his project, and ensuring that staff execute their assigned tasks.


A manager needs to motivate employees to perform their work efficiently in a pleasant working environment. The manager's role is to persuade, coach, and create opportunities for his employees. He is the person who solves problem and handles change. The supervisor's role is to follow the system and not to solve problems and initiate change. The supervisor is the collaborator and the implementer of an already established system. The manager directs, whereas the supervisor follows the system.


The manager's role is to monitor the progress toward achieving the set targets of the organization; he is concerned more with deviations from the set targets rather than monitoring the tasks assigned to employees. The latter task is the role of the supervisor who reports to the manager on the progress made, processes the tasks assigned by the manager, and follows instructions. Conversely, the manager gathers feedback about the tasks assigned, sets instructions, and assesses the progress made by the team.

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  • "Management"; Richard L. Daft; 2000
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