How we supervise employees have some remarkable similarities to how we supervise anything in business. And one strikes difference.
Managing anything is basically directing or controlling the use of that thing. Managing in a business environment would also require making the use of the innovative business qualities of that thing or resource whether it is money, machines, material, supply chains, accounting, engineering, people or whatever.
Therefore what is the "most efficient use" of people?
For a machine, it is obvious that using it as it was configured to be used and operating it in accordance with its operating manual is a starting point. However, successfully utilizing it would also have to include maintaining it in good condition.
In such respects, are people any different than machines? What is tip-top operating condition for people?
Is a tip-top condition tremendously high morale or very low morale or somewhere in between? Is it a firm sense of ownership for their work or no sense of ownership? Is it behaving like a robot or is it employing their full potential of creativity, innovation, productivity, motivation and commitment on their work?
To be successful at maintaining machinery or a function like accounting, one must soundly understand that machine or function, how it works and what it needs. Is it any different for managing people? Not really.
There is one important difference between machines and people. People have a brain totally able of making a decision what they should do, when they should do it, how they should do it and then actually doing it. This would seem to imply that managing people is more about maintaining the natural capabilities of the "machine" (people) than about operating it.
Indeed the common goal of managing people is to sustain them at a high-ranking performance and even raise their natural capabilities.