I mentioned previously how important I feel supervision is and has been in my practice thus far. I venture to say that good supervision is one of the corner stones in developing a stable and solid Social Work practice. There are many books on the subject, many books that expound on the importance of supervision in Social Work. For myself, I have found the following as qualities of good supervision:
- Guidance: a supervisor/manager who is able to offer assistance in case management/progression when I have been stuck as to how to help a client
- Processing/reflection: a manager who is able to ask the right questions and get me thinking about the decisions I have made and others that need to be made
- Development: a supervisor/manager who is able to seek not only my strengths but my weaknesses and is able to provide suggestions as to how my weaknesses may be developed into strengths through training, shadowing, opportunities to work in other teams or sectors of the organization.
- Performance management: This is closely linked to development but more around practical areas such as time management, work prioritisation and quality of work
- Empowerment/support: Someone with whom I can discuss those personal things that may be impacting upon my ability to do my job who will not see my sharing as a weakness but as a strength and a call for assistance to manage before things get out of hand. Someone who can help build upon my strengths by allocating work where I can be of the greatest use.
- Regular: Supervision needs to be planned for and held on a regular basis. They need to be reliable so that each party can create an agenda and be able to inform others of when decisions can or will be made regarding key issues
- Prioritised: Supervision needs to be seen as a critical part of practice by both Social Workers and managers. It needs to be a reciprocal process that provides both parties with what they need to continue to function in their specific capacities.
I have found the following as detrimental to good supervision and grossly counterproductive:
- Persistently rescheduled
- Task Driven
In addition to the above I have had the misfortune of experiencing managers who are also:
- Micro mangers
- Passive Aggressive
As someone who does their best to be self aware, I find all of the above severely limiting. I cannot function in a management regime that is distrustful of its workers and thereby needs to be looming over them to ensure things get done; especially where there is evidence that this would be the case if they were to back off and allow people to work.
Supervision should be something that Social Workers look forward to because they know at these times there will be support and assistance provided to them to help do their job better. It should not be seen as a chore. This is one of the means by which, as Social Workers, we are able to exhibit our skills, knowledge and growth. This is a time when we show that we are ready to progress as professionals. Supervision should give the necessary validation to a Social Worker’s skills and decisions. It should also provide constructive criticism and a clear path for the Social Worker to follow in order to develop those areas identified for improvement.