You are on page 1of 9


Rationale for Policy on Supervision and Managing Staff Supervision can be viewed as a process of managing functions intended to promote the achievement of institutional goals and to enhance the personal and professional capabilities of staff. Supervision interprets the institutional mission and focuses human and fiscal resources on the promotion of individual and organizational competence. Supervision attends to the accomplishment of the institution and unit's goals and to the personal and professional welfare of the staff. An effective supervisor provides by assistance to staff members in meeting their personal and professional goals within the context of the division and the institution. Supervision policy should, then, be directed toward the following objectives:

Model practice focused on student learning and education of the whole person. Accomplish the unit and institution's goals and mission. Fulfill the institutional functions assigned to the unit. Coordinate the recruitment and selection process of new staff members. Coordinate the orientation and training of new hired staff members. Consider the personal and professional welfare of the staff members. Establish good communication between members of the unit and division. Conduct and coordinate the performance appraisal of staff members. Address needs of departing and remaining staff members when employee separation occurs.

Functions of Supervision - Supervision is not always easy. A supervisor is often called upon to make decisions based upon the knowledge and skills which have been acquired through the years of professional involvement. A supervisor must serve many functions. Among these are:

Articulating and achieving the unit's missions and needs Monitoring and managing the climate of the unit Fostering individual development Developing teamwork capabilities and group resources Coordinating work activities

Promoting active problem solving

Approaches to Supervision - The process of supervision can take on one or a combination of styles, and one particular style may not be appropriate for every supervisory situation. It is important that a supervisor is aware of his or her predominate approach to supervision so that the style may be adapted as the situation or the staff member requires. Winston and Creamer (1994) provide an instrument to identify supervisory approaches (click here for an example) . The four approaches included in the instrument are:

Authoritarian - based on the belief that staff members require constant attention Laissez Faire - based on the desire to allow staff members freedom in accomplishing job responsibilities Companionable - based on a friendship-like relationship Synergistic - a cooperative effort between the supervisor and the staff member

The found that the following behaviors were closely associated with "quality supervision."

Aligning staff in the same overall direction through staff development and team work, then reinforcing through high expectations; Leading by example; Being clear about values, ethics, and principles of fairness; Interpreting and building the culture of the institution; and Having a vision of where the institution is going (Arminio& Creamer, 2001, p. 39)

Participants in Arminio and Creamer's study were asked to identify the processes associated with excellent supervision. These processes included:

Hold regular meetings with individuals and groups; Involve staff members in planning; Utilize a great deal of face-to-face contact; Communicate consistently, thoroughly and often; and Introduce challenge to staff members in timely portions (that is, not all at once). (2001, p. 40)

Recommendations for Improving Supervision

The types of supervision that experienced, competent professional require include:

Frank appraisals of the contributions of their units A sounding board for strategies for dealing with difficult issues or personnel Candid feedback about how they and their units are perceived within the institution Care and involvement in the establishment and evaluation of personal performance objectives Someone to keep difficult issues on the table Advanced warnings about impending changes An understanding ear for personal issues Honest assessment and suggestions for improvement Praise and encouragement for a job well done

Supervising Ineffective Middle Managers - Supervision of the unenthusiastic, unchallenged employee is much more difficult. When the staff member is not motivated to improve, the supervisor may use tactics such as:

Discuss with the employee perceived behavior and attitudinal deficiencies. Identify, with the staff member, ideas for improvement. Agree upon a plan to ensure changes in the staff member's performance. Monitor the plan often. Offer short-term job rotation options to the employee. Assign the employee a challenging short term project. Make sure that the institutional performance appraisal system does not reward behavior or attitudes that are nonproductive.

Recommendations for Practice

To improve supervision in student affairs, Winston and Creamer (1997) recommend that supervision be dealt with in an open and explicit manner and be systematic and ongoing. A collection of supervision ideas (Table 3) is available in a table which includes recommendations for supervisory behaviors to use and to avoid. Table 3 - Supervision Ideas

Do Openly discuss the goals and process of supervision with each staff member Include advancement of staff member's personal and professional goals in the supervisory process

Don't Treat supervision as a routine administrative task Establish supervisory structure without genuine input from supervisor

Show concern and interest in staff Attempt to become a staff member's personal concerns member's therapist Work at establishing friendly relationships with staff Treat staff members equitably Confront problems and issues when first realized Allow romantic or "special" caring to develop with persons supervised Show or appear to show favor to some staff members Confuse the value of the person with his or her behaviors

Support the decisions of superiors Hide disagreement from with subordinate staff and supervisor during decision making students process Publicly admit when wrong or mistaken Deal with staff members face to face Keep confidences Be direct, open, and honest Criticize (correct) staff members publicly Discuss a staff member's problem behavior with another subordinate or coequal staff member Hesitate to consult with supervisors or other professionals Try to send indirect message or message thorough a third party to a staff member about his or her conduct Rely on memory for details of supervisory sessions Fail to follow up on accomplishment of objectives periodically Assume that a "good job" is the norm and does not require acknowledgment

Keep records of supervisory contacts Establish specific performance objectives or program outcomes periodically (at least biannually) Recognize and reward achievement

Make realistic assignments based Assume that everyone on a staff on a knowledge of the staff or in an office should do the same

member's experience and skill level, personal maturity, and current life situation

thing at the same time

Make explicit connection between Assume that staff members can supervision and staff always identify the areas in which development activities they need to develop skills or acquire knowledge Listen and learn from staff supervised Assume final knowledge about supervision or about a supervisory relationship

Providing effective supervision

A workforce development tool, including a unit of competence and supporting guidance We know from our research that the key to building this workforce is providing up to date, accessible and relevant support, guidance and opportunities for workers. High quality supervision is one of the most important drivers in ensuring positive outcomes for people who use social care and children's services. It also has a crucial role to play in the development, retention and motivation of the workforce. It plugs an identified gap in the Leadership and Management Strategy for social care. The unit of competence included in the tool kit has already been field tested with good results. It has been developed in association with a wide range of employers, practitioners and partners, including the Department of Health and the Department for Education and Skills (now Department for Children, Schools and Families). The guidance and other resources have been designed to assist organisations, supervisors and those receiving supervision to make the most of the opportunities that supervision offers.

Good supervision affects organizational results and the overall work environment. A strong supervisory team that contributes to a positive work environment and enables employees to be and feel successful can provide your organization with a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talented employees - which is critical in a sector that faces challenges in recruiting and retaining top employees . Good supervision is based on clearly defining the role of supervisors in your organization, and ensuring supervisors have the requisite competencies to carry out their role effectively.

Role of a supervisor
Supervisors manage both processes and people. Process responsibilities include activities such as:

Work unit planning Budgeting Scheduling Task/work assignment Work implementation and problem solving Monitoring work unit progress Evaluating results People responsibilities include activities such as:

Developing work team and individual employee skills and capabilities Motivating employees Monitoring and providing feedback on day-to-day performance Conducting formal performance reviews Carrying out disciplinary activity

In the majority of organizations today, supervisors typically have dual roles: that of supervisor and that of worker. This means that a percentage of a supervisor's time is spent on supervisory activities and a percentage of their time is spent on doing his or her own functional/technical activities. Typically the amount of time spent on supervisor activities, versus functional/technical activities, increases with:

The seniority (level) of the managerial job A greater number of employees being supervised Greater complexity of the goals and responsibilities within the function Lower expertise and knowledge of employees being supervised Greater risks associated with the work being completed

Functions of a supervisor The following are examples of typical supervisory functions: people management and task management. Each organization will need to define the functions that best meet the specific needs of the organization and what the proper balance is between the two functions.
People management functions Typical people management functions of a supervisor include:
1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

Developing work team and individual employee skills and capabilities Motivating employees Monitoring and providing feedback on day-to-day performance Formal performance review Disciplinary action

1.Developing work team and individual employee skills and capabilities As part of achieving objectives, supervisors need to ensure that their work team is comprised of individuals with the skills, knowledge, and capabilities to carry out the work. Supervisors can achieve the desired mix of skills,

knowledge, and capabilities through effective staffing and/or through the development of current employees. Supervisors should identify development needs jointly with their employees to determine appropriate development opportunities and activities. While the identification of development needs is often part of the formal performance management process, it is important to have the discussion with employees whenever assigning a new project or activity, or when the supervisor observes the employee struggling to achieve assigned objectives. Development opportunities could include things such as job shadowing, working on a particular task force or project or a temporary job assignment. Development activities could include coaching or mentoring (often from the supervisor, but could be from another employee or manager), on the job training or a training course. 2.Motivating employees Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that work unit goals and objectives are achieved. Critical to fulfilling this responsibility is motivating employees to successfully accomplish assigned activities. Supervisors can use a number of motivation techniques, including:

Providing positive feedback on employee achievements Assigning interesting and challenging work Providing effective guidance, support and training Recognizing and rewarding positive performance Tailoring work assignments, rewards and recognition to individual employee needs and desires Leading by example (nothing is more de-motivating than a supervisor who expects employees to "do what I say" not "what I do") Successfully motivating employees requires:

Identifying the results and behaviours expected of employees Discussing these expectations with employees to ensure mutual understanding and employee buy-in Aligning motivating techniques accordingly Celebrating success The combination of process and people responsibilities results in a requirement for supervisors to have a combination of process management competencies and people management competencies. Those identified below are meant to provide examples of typical competencies required of supervisors.

3.Monitoring and providing feedback on day-to-day performance While most organizations require an annual performance review be done with all employees, effective people management is based on on-going feedback, coaching and support throughout the year. Supervisors are responsible for monitoring day-to-day performance and providing employees with timely and constructive feedback - both positive and negative. Monitoring day-to-day performance does not mean watching over every aspect of how the employee carries out assigned activities and tasks. Supervisors should not micro-manage employee performance but instead should focus their attention on results achieved, as well as individual behaviours and team dynamics affecting the work environment. 4.Formal performance review In most organizations supervisors are required to conduct a formal review with all of their employees (usually annually, more often in other organizations). Refer to the Performance Management section, and the Policy Guidelinefor more information on this function. 5.Disciplinary action Supervisors are required to carry out disciplinary actions with employees, when required, to ensure performance expectations are met and a positive work environment is maintained. Refer to the Discipline section and the HR Policy Guidelines for more information on this function.