Supervision: When to Use Directive Control Behaviors
This paper is about many different aspects of effective supervision, training and evaluation, but the main concern here is control. It can be assumed that the supervisor has control over the supervisory situation, but this would be an oversimplification of the relationship between a line employee and their direct boss. Control is a shared entity because though the supervisor may determine the course an employee must take, the employee decides whether they will follow that direction or not. Thus, the supervisor must prove to the employee that they are competent in the job before they can expect the employee to follow direction.
This is the stance taken by directive control behaviors. A supervisor who uses directive control behaviors has to be a subject matter expert. If they cannot claim an expertise in the elements that the job entails then they are less likely to have influence over the employee's direction. This manner of supervision gives the manager control over the process of improvement. After an evaluation of the employee, the supervisor is able to correctly identify the areas that need improvement. Then they can give the employee specific goals that can be reached and reward the individual after they have reached the desired level of competence (Bailey, 2006). This paper discusses this preferred method of supervision, how the different elements of the approach are used and also when the method is most appropriate in supervisory situations.
It is impossible, especially in a world where it is necessary to stay abreast of myriad technological advances, to successfully do any job unless a person is involved in some form of training. For the teacher, this may be more true than for other professions. Not only must a teacher understand the advances and how they relate to a particular field, but that instructor must also be able to use new electronic technology to enhance their lesson plans. Therefore, training is required to provide an educator with the advanced tools to competently perform their job.
It seems that the goal of training in general is to increase a needed level of competence. With regard to this paper, supervision is one of the best training tools. The supervisor can train the employee using one of several methods, but (as outlined in Baumrind, 1966) there are three supervisory stances that a leader can take: permissive, authoritarian, or authoritative. Baumrind was specifically speaking about parenting styles, but these are actually common leadership styles no matter what segment of the population is being led. The names of the styles may change (such as laissez-faire for permissive), but they are essentially the same.
The three leadership styles have different aspects that make them either work in different situations. The permissive supervisor would generally be one that has a creative outlook and does not want to in any way quell the creative spirit of his or her employees. With a workforce that does not need specific direction, this can be a workable solution, but, generally, this is not the best supervisory stance to take. An authoritarian supervisor leads in one way, their way, without the benefit of flexibility. In some remote cases, such as the military during combat situations, this style works. This is best used when swift, without-question compliance is required. The final supervisory style Baumrind (1966) outlined is authoritative. Though this sounds like authoritarian, it is not. A supervisor who is authoritarian has some aspects of the other two. this is a person who knows the occupation and intimately understands the requirements that are required for success. This type of leader allows the employee to exhibit creativity within bounds. They will give the subordinate guidelines that are meant to help them achieve their potential within the company. This style of leadership could also be called directive control.
Philosophy of Supervision
Many studies have been conducted, and theories purported, regarding types of supervision that individuals employ, and which of these is best. Sometimes it may even be wise to use different types of supervision depending on the individual being trained. This last statement seems obvious because, since there are different personality types who have differing skill levels, the type of supervision would also have to change. But, in reality, people often develop one specific type of supervision and stick with it regardless the person who is being supervised. One of these types is the directive control approach which Glickman (2002) describes as;
"When a leader directs a teacher in what will be done, standardizes the timeline of and criteria for expected results, and reinforces the consequences of action or inaction, then the leader has taken responsibility for the decision. The leader is clearly determining the actions for the teacher to follow. These behaviors are called a directive-control interpersonal approach" (42).
Of course, this could also be labeled authoritarian, but is more of an authoritative approach because the supervisor's direction comes from a position of subject matter expertise.
Glickman (2002) also breaks down the different elements of directive control beyond the need for expertise from the supervisor;
"The leader clarifies the teacher's problem, presents his or her own ideas on what information should be collected and how it will be collected, directs the teacher, after data collection and analysis, on the actions that need to be taken, demonstrates for the teacher appropriate teaching behavior, sets the standard for improvement based on the preliminary baseline information, and reinforces teacher behavior by using material or social incentives" (Glickman, 2002, 59-60).
Each of these steps is necessary because they outline a specific plan that the teacher can follow to best reach the expected level of competence. A clarification is required because the issue(s) involved could be seen differently by the supervisor and the teacher. Making sure that both are clearly identifying what the true issue is, is necessary for correction. The data collection phase is an informative search that the teacher needs to do to further clarify the issue. The data collection is also necessary in the realm of education because it leads to the proper type of direction that will need to be devised so that the teacher can actually plan for the corrective actions. The demonstration can come directly from the supervisor or it can come through observation of a colleague who has already demonstrated competence in the area which needs correction. Standard setting may actually be misplaced in Glickman's narrative. The standard for a teacher is set by the district and the state. The supervisor may demand a higher level of competence on a specific issue, but that would show a less productive authoritarian stance on their part. The incentives used can be as simple as a better evaluation when the supervisee ascends to the standard, or it can be something even more tangible such as a plaque or other type of award. All of these steps assist the supervisee in reaching the goals that will help them improve and maintain their place of employment.
Within the structure of directive control behavior is an evaluation of the teacher's performance that takes place during the presenting and directing steps (Glickman, 2002, 59). Evaluation has to be a central part of any supervisory instruction because it is the supervisor's primary occupation to guide subordinates in areas which do not rise to the necessary standard. This evaluation can take several forms, but then it is the supervisor's responsibility to synthesize the information into usable goals. Finally, the supervisor must evaluate whether the process was effective prior to rewarding the employee.
The evaluation offered by the supervisor can be either formative or summative in nature depending on what the employee needs (Clem, 1993; Raths & Lyman, 2003). Summative evaluation has more to do with the end product. It is like the rewarding process in the directive control approach. Employees see that they have reached the expected competency when they receive the summative reward of a promotion (Raths & Lyman, 2003). Another type of evaluation is the formative type. Raths & Lyman (2003) see this type of evaluation as;
"…akin to coaching. Formative evaluations are designed to improve student performance or improve the products on which students are working. In the mode of formative evaluation, teachers rarely issue overall judgments about the quality of a performance or a product but instead point out particular strengths and/or weaknesses, suggest how weakness might be addressed, and encourage reflection."
Although the above quote speaks directly about students, this is appropriate for employees also. Formative evaluation follows the same pattern as directive control as it is outlined by Glickman (2002). The supervisor sets the standard, demonstrates competency, and rewards achievement. This method of evaluation is appropriate to the classroom and to the job market, but the main question is when?
When Directive Control Behaviors are Appropriate
The main reason that supervisors do not find that directive control is appropriate in all situations is because it takes much of the onus for determining improvement away from the employee. Bailey (2006)…