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Supervision…where individuals and the organisation meet to communicate.

(Managing for Effectiveness in Social Services – A Workbook, SSI/DoH/Social Information Systems 1994)


Functions of supervision

1. To manage workload

  • To ensure quality practice for best outcomes for services users;
  • To ensure that work is allocated appropriately;
  • To ensure that priorities are set, agreed and understood;
  • To ensure that objectives, tasks and expectations are clearly defined;
  • To ensure that standards are set for achieving tasks;
  • To ensure that monitoring arrangements relating to task completion are set;
  • To ensure that objectives and tasks are reviewed;
  • To ensure that workflow and workloads are monitored;
  • To ensure that any concerns/issues etc., are raised, discussed and find some form of resolution;
  • To ensure that there are clear lines of communication, within immediate team or with peers or line managers within the organisation;
  • To ensure that ideas and new initiatives are listened to and considered;
  • To ensure that the organisation’s policies and procedures are promoted, understood and implemented.

2. To develop staff

  1. To ensure that staff are property inducted into their role, whether as a new member of staff or taking up a new role within the same organisation;
  2. To ensure that skills and knowledge necessary for job competence are clarified;
  3. To ensure that staff members skills and knowledge are both identified and used, and to ensure that they are developed through continuing professional development and training;
  4. To ensure that there is the opportunity to reflect critically on the work tasks in order to meet requirements of the job;
  5. To ensure that there is the opportunity to promote an on-going two-way dialogue/feedback in relation to strengths and weaknesses which will contribute to appraisal;
  6. To hold an annual appraisal which includes a staff development plan for the year ahead;
  7. To ensure that any grievance and disciplinary matters are dealt with as necessary and at an early stage.

3. To support staff

  • To ensure that acknowledgement and praise are given as and when appropriate;
  • to ensure that any work-related stress issues are discussed, and positive strategies are adopted;
  • to ensure that personal matters which may affect work performance can be shared and addressed, without entering into the realms of personal counselling;
  • to ensure that issues of difference and diversity are positively addressed;
  • to ensure that information is available about staff counselling, welfare services and trade unions.

Supervision Standards (An example from one agency)

  1. The overall aims, purpose and objectives of supervision are agreed between supervisor and supervisee
  2. Both supervisor and supervisee prepare for supervision.
  3. Supervision has clear agendas, and any different expectations of supervision between the supervisor and supervisee are identified and dealt with.
  4. Difference is acknowledged
  5. Contracts are used in order to ensure that the standard, quality, and expectations of supervision are clearly addressed and applied to all staff
  6. Supervision is recorded
  7. Expected length and frequency of supervision are identified and meet organisational standards
  8. Location and venue provide confidentiality and safety
  9. Agreed action outcomes following supervision, these need to be addressed within agreed timetables.
  10. Both the supervisor and the supervisee should have equal responsibility for ensuring that the agreements within the contract are carried out, although ultimately the Supervisor should remain accountable for the whole process.

(Bristol Social and Services and Health, Policy Statement)