10 Tips for Supervision

By
Bernadette Glass
on May 09, 2014

What is happening in Supervision? Do your team members share how valuable the supervision time was with you? Do they feel ‘met’ by you in a way they know their work is a shared responsibility? On a macro level, supervision is really about supporting your team members to execute their role and to provide the community with a high standard of service delivery.

Coming closer to ‘home’, the reality of work in the human services can find the life styles, choices and circumstances of clients, very confronting for the practitioner. To remain fresh and committed to this work requires a level of detachment; observation and ‘holding’ that can test the most self-aware practitioner. We feel what is happening for clients, can be triggered into emotional responses that can escalate or be buried if we are not well supported by our colleagues and particularly our supervisors.

As practitioners, the main tool for our practice is ourselves ~ our human being-ness! If we were using machines, they would require regular maintenance to ensue viability and a sustained working life. Supervision is a way of maintaining the quality we can offer clients by making sure we are will supported, learning, reflecting and understanding the operational aspects of the job.

In the momentum of the day to day tasks and responsibilities, the practical operational audits and case discussions often form the basis of supervision. Engaging the practitioner about how they are managing their work and the impact of situations that arise takes another level of dedication and commitment for the supervisor.

Below is a list of tips for supervisors to support practitioners as they go about exercising their role and meeting the structural requirements of the organisation.

1. Take supervision seriously ~ let people know how highly you regard supervision by honouring the practitioner.
2. Be consistent and have fun.
3. Never cancel supervision without rescheduling immediately.
4. Develop a routine in supervision that first genuinely connects with the practitioner on feeling level.
5. Don’t dismiss signs of practitioner stress; offer support and support them to take responsibility for themselves.
6. Observe those you supervise and check in with them between supervision sessions.
7. Use a framework/agenda for supervision that provides structure, accountability and learning.
8. Learn how to discuss the un-discussable ~ have the difficult conversation. 
9. Develop self care as a natural part of the conversation in supervision.
10. Obtain quality supervision for yourself!

Supervision is one of the foundational aspects of work in the human services. Appreciating yourself as a supervisor and the inspiration you can offer your team members is not the be underestimated. Your own self care is vital here. Making ‘you’ a priority each day even in small ways like not rushing, taking your lunch break or having a stretch at your desk is self care! Attending to your own wellbeing first, will model a way of working and develop a culture that sustains and maintains quality practice.

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