Groupwork Centre Blog

3 things you need to build a satisfying supervision relationship

View from 3 metres away of a small, sad pug dog slumped on the floor looking directly at you.

Do you know how your staff are feeling? Regular supervision as a reflective practice gives insight and inspires motivation. Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

It’s no secret that you need trust and good communication for any healthy relationship.

But at work, a common problem we come across is how you nurture your connection with others when you all have so many other urgent priorities.

Actually, investing in regular one-on-one supervision is a powerful and often enjoyable way to save you time and keep both of you aware of what’s really going on.

What do we mean by Supervision?

To be clear, the process we’re talking about is collaborative, not a performance management review where boxes get ticked (or don’t – urk). Instead, there’s space created for an open conversation that’s not always task-focused.

Together you decide what you’ll look at. The conversation may include self-reflection on work practices and relationships, something that’s been on your mind for either of you or ideas the supervisee may have for how they can improve things.

It’s a reflective practice where both of you can step away from day-to-day realities and look at the bigger picture of how things are going, digging deeper to get at what’s happening for the supervisee – and also looking at environmental factors that contribute to this.

You both benefit from this collaborative check-in

Building a more respectful relationship, inspiring honesty and efficiency, you can:

  • achieve more, increasing motivation and job satisfaction
  • reduce conflict
  • build autonomy in staff because they understand what they need to do
  • allow staff to follow their passion, and
  • minimise time spent on issues arising from confusion/unspoken dynamics.

Rather than being task-focused, you’re taking a wider and deeper look at how things are going.

How to build great supervising skills

In our training with leaders and staff, we look at these priorities:

1. Commit and be clear

Be transparent about the process, discuss the possible benefits and mutually develop a clear agenda. And be consistent with your meeting time; don’t reschedule because you’re busy – what message is that sending to your staff?

2. Listen deeply and don’t fix

As a result of not feeling heard, people can become disengaged or unmotivated. Jumping in with a solution, however clever or well-meaning, before they’re finished denies an acknowledgement of their experience. Be present.

2. Encourage autonomy

Avoid the micro-managing power-over trap and support people to develop their own insights; give them space to create improvements to their work. You’ll get a better picture of them, their skills and challenges.

If you’re invested in setting up a great supervision process, I’d love you to join us for our Supervising Skills short course in the last week of March.

I wish you well in your collaborative adventures!


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