The 21st century corporate workplace is set against a highly competitive backdrop. Economic uncertainties saw to it that the only way a company can survive in today’s corporate world is to be the best and most flexible in the market (Coy, 2000). Ensuring this excellence and flexibility now falls to the supervisors working closest with the employees. Among the challenges supervisors face in the current workplace, the most pressing are the key productivity factors that would determine the corporation’s survival in the economy: quality work, ethical standards, and diversity (Coy, 2000).
Foremost is the guaranteeing of top quality of work from the employees, which in turn guarantees a healthy clientele and a respected reputation. The supervisor is expected to set and enforce quality control standards among the workers in his/her team as well as motivate them to give their best performance (Certo, 2003). In this era of modern technology, escaping detection for unethical behavior is getting easier. Thus, ethical behavior has now become a growing demand as more and more corporation shareholders are outraged with the corruption charges and scandals plaguing executives (Krohe, Jr.
1997). It is the supervisor’s task to promote and uphold ethical behavior in his/her team, as well as to uncover any unethical activities conducted by the employees. In the 1950s, the employed consisted of male workers earning enough to feed their children and stay-at-home wives, thus popularizing the “man in the gray flannel suit” ideal. Today, however, housewives are being replaced with career women as the female population joins what once was a predominantly male workforce (Laabs, 2000).
Ethnic minorities and immigrants are now being offered job opportunities in the same workplace as the ordinary citizen, as well as, to a lesser extent, the physically and mentally handicapped. Yet the scope of diversity is not merely limited to gender, race, and disabilities, but also includes age, social status, religion, and, in a growing trend, sexual orientation. Diversity now points more to the individuality of each employee. The supervisor then must know how to harness that individuality into productivity to get an edge on the market (Bateman & Snell, 2004).
Bateman, T. & Snell, S. (2004) Management: The new competitive landscape, Sixth Edition. McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 330-331. Certo, S. (2003). Supervision: Concepts and Skill-Building, 4/e McGraw-Hill/Irwin Coy, P. (2000). The creative economy. Business Week, August 21 – 28, 76-82. Krohe, Jr. , J (1997, April). Ethics Are nice, but business is business. Across the Board, 16-22 Laabs, J. (2000, October). Celebrating National Business Women’s Week. Workforce, 79 (10), 32.
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