A variety of models
Many different models help explain the interaction between stakeholders and the different functions of supervision. Supervision policies often refer to a three or four-function model of supervision. Morrison (2010) identified management, professional, and developmental aspects and added the role of mediation in recognition of the role of supervisors. He saw supervisors as the main link between frontline workers and management structures.
These multiple dynamics of supervision are set out by Kettle (2015), who highlights that a “task-focused approach fails to take account of the interaction between these functions,” or to “situate the dynamics of the supervisory process within the wider organisational or inter-agency context”.
Proctor (2008) advocates a three-part supervision model that has been influential, and these terms are often discussed in wider literature including the very helpful SSSC Supervision Learning Resource (SSSC, 2016).
The key domains are shown in the table below.
|Normative||Ensures that staff work within a safe framework for practice |
Maintain trust and professional standards Exploring options within the supervision session
|Formative||The learning function Sharing knowledge and skills and experiences Problem solving and skills development Assist with understanding the people who use services better Explore alternative ways of working|
|Restorative||Support for personal/professional development Building morale and confidence Ensure staff function within a safe framework for practice Maintaining their professional standards|
Developing different methods of supervision
A learning organisation will use multiple methods to support staff development rather than expecting everything to be provided by a line manager in individual supervision (Tsui, 2017). This may incorporate peer and group approaches, mentorship as well as consultation and coaching. Peer group work is explored in the training outline for NQSWs. The supervisor training sessions included on this website has a focus on individual models that help to take account of multiple needs.
Heron (2001) set out a model which helps us think more about the variety of interventions that might happen in supervision. Both authoritative and facilitative interventions are needed but some of the facilitative needs may also be achieved in peer-group work (particularly cathartic and catalytic interventions).
|Prescriptive – Explicitly direct the NQSW by giving advice and direction|
|Informative – Provide information to instruct and guide the NQSW|
|Confronting – Challenge the NQSW’s behaviour or attitude|
|Cathartic – Helping the NQSW to express/overcome thoughts or emotions that they have not previously confronted|
|Catalytic – Help the NQSW reflect, discover and learn for themselves. Move toward self-reflection, self-direction and self-awareness|
|Supportive – Build up the confidence of the NQSW by focusing on their competence, qualities and achievements|
There are several developmental models which are helpful when thinking about the domains of motivation, autonomy and awareness in supervision.
As with all models, it aids our thinking rather than having a linear or universal application. Factors including career history, such as a prior experience of the care sector, may impact our developmental journey.
The categories set out in the table below are adapted from a model advanced by Stoltenberg and McNeill (2010).
|Level 1 self-centred (Can I make it in this work?)|
|We may be focused on getting it right and the feeling of ongoing assessment or may be frustrated by not being able to get on with it after intense assessments and scrutiny in successive placements.|
|We may be feeling overwhelmed at times by greater caseloads and conflicted about doing a ‘good enough job’ rather than a comprehensive one.|
|The supervisor provides a safe and structured container with regular positive feedback.|
|Level 2 Client-centred (Can I help this client make it?)|
|The supervisor may be less structured and reduce direct advice, legislation and policy guidance.|
|Support is offered for occasional swings between feeling skilled and not able to cope with the role and needing to negotiate or ask for help.|
|As the supervisory alliance grows it is seen more as support for practice than continuous assessment by the organisation.|
|Level 3 Process-centred (How are we relating together?)|
|Supervision becomes a joint task, more co-productive and with more power balance.|
|Supervisees are less likely to use individual theory or prescribed forms of assessment and intervention as they become more comfortable with using their strengths and different range of styles in client work.|
|They become more self-supervising of casework and their overall development|
|Level 4 Process-in-context centred (How do processes interpenetrate?)|
|As a supervisee’s skills become more refined they become integrated with the worker’s effective use of self.|
|They come knowing how they want to use the session and the supervisor’s strengths.|
|The supervisee may be a supervisor or practice teacher themselves by this point.|
adapted from Stoltenberg and McNeill (2010)
Reflective questions for you as a supervisor
- Think about how the developmental model set out above also applies to you a supervisor.
- Identify which stage you think you are at in your supervisory journey and what supports you might need to develop further.