Module 11: young people and drugs - issues for workers: facilitator's guide

7.2 Negotiating and maintaining effective supervision

Page last updated: 2004

Supervision is a right of workers and many organisations have supervision policies and formal supervision arrangements in place.

Overhead transparency
Task - writing exercise/group activity
Strategies for improvement

Overhead transparency

The supervision process provides workers with the opportunity to:
  • reflect and discuss challenging and confronting aspects of their work
  • reflect on things that they have done well and work out ways of dealing with situations more effectively
  • discuss client situations when they feel they are 'stuck' (while maintaining confidentiality, of course!)
  • explore any issues arising out of their work role that need addressing
  • Supervision is an important part of taking care of yourself and should be an ongoing process
  • Supervision can be provided by managers (in house), by external providers (usually on a contract basis), or by peers (in a team supervision situation)
  • Supervision provides a learning opportunity by allowing you to time to reflect on your work and develop your professional skills.

Task - writing exercise/group activity

Question - What items would you include in your contract?

  • Frequency of supervision (weekly, fortnightly)
  • Place where session will occur
  • A description of what might be allowed to disrupt a supervision session (for example, can the session be cancelled if there is a crisis at work or at home?)
  • The expectations of the worker
  • The expectations of the supervisor
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Strategies for improvement

Task - writing exercise/group activity

If you already have supervision arrangements in place (with or without a formal contract), reflect on ways in which the process could be improved or revised.

Question - What strategies can you suggest that will improve the process for you and other members of your team?

Question - What are some of the qualities that you would like your supervisor to have?

Answer - Supervisors should:
  • demonstrate a high level of professional skills in their own work
  • demonstrate the appropriate personal characteristics (e.g. they should be optimistic and encouraging, have a sense of humour, be empathic and sensitive to the needs of others and have good listening skills
  • have a good knowledge of individual differences with regard to gender, ethnicity, culture, age and sexual orientation
  • have knowledge of the policies and procedures of the workplace and be familiar with the ethical, legal and regulatory aspects of the field of work
  • be able to set clear goals for the supervision session in consultation with the worker
  • provide immediate feedback relevant to the issue. This feedback should be honest, objective and constructive.

Task - workplace learning activity/writing exercise

Can you identify any specific shortcomings in your current supervision arrangements? For example:

Question - Do you have open communication with your supervisor?

Question - Does your supervisor concentrate on giving you support at the expense of constructive criticism?

Question - Does your supervisor define clearly what they expect from you?

Question - Does your supervisor make time for you?

Question - How could you be more proactive in resolving these and any other problems you are experiencing with your supervision?

Answer - Some possible strategies for improving supervision include:
  • asking for a more direct response
  • asking for constructive criticism
  • making your own expectations clear
  • being assertive in regard to appointment times
  • being prepared for supervision with a written agenda
  • asking for a different supervisor, if possible
  • seeking out external supervision
  • suggesting other supervision methods (e.g. team supervision).
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Overhead transparency

  • Working with young people can be demanding and workers need to develop support networks, including workplace supervision
  • Supervision should be regarded as a right and provides an opportunity to debrief and to develop strategies for dealing with issues
  • Supervision is more effective when it is planned and when the worker has set clear goals for the session.