I think most of us would agree about the crucial role that supervision plays in all our work and I would love to raise a question for CYC workers (who are not supervisors) as to what they feel is the most crucial quality they need from their supervisor to increase their effectiveness at work, as well as inviting supervisors to comment on what they feel is the most crucial quality to provide to the CYC Worker.
Hawthorne, New York
I believe that the most crucial quality in supervision is to support and challenge CYC workers at the same time. We work in a field that is rather demanding, both physically and mentally. As we observe and take mental notes on the youth we work with, so do our supervisors take mental notes on us.
The nature of our field does not always allow for feedback to be given in the moment, so supervisions are the normal feedback medium. I believe that it is imperative that we are able to accept the feedback that is given to us with the same spirit as it is intended, which is to make us better at what we do, thus making it better for the youth we work with. In the past I have taken feedback personally, and as an attack on my style, dedication, etc.
This was not the right thing to do, but I am very
far from perfect. To personalize the comments which are meant to make us
better is counterproductive to say the least. If done correctly,
supervisions can be professionally rewarding and an amazing tool to
shape our way of thinking.
Karoly (Charlie) Toth
I enjoy working with supervisors who are ethical and supportive.
Here's my thought on the most crucial quality
needed from supervisors to increase a person's effectiveness:
Specific constructive feedback. That one skill is supported by a number of characteristics:
Connectedness to others
It also requires the skill of the CYC worker in receiving, filtering, and applying that feedback.
I think yours is a very good question, and I would like to answer it by giving my opinion about what supervisors should NOT be doing. Frontline workers face challenges every day, and while some days are very rewarding, the reality is that some days are very hard. One of the worst things a supervisor can do is to "feed" workers agency policy, politics and theory when they really need understanding and support. That is the point when "we" becomes "them and us". So to answer the question more directly, I think the most important thing/quality a supervisor can provide is genuine recognition and appreciation for the everyday challenges that frontline workers face.
Werner van der Westhuizen
One of the most crucial qualities that a supervisor should possess is the "vision" - If the supervisor is not skilled enough to carry out the leadership (cyc) and institutional (org) visions, then the supervisor is bound to fail in his or her role.
Karoly, I do agree with your points regarding supervision qualities, however I think it important to point out the difference between challenging and insight oriented models of supervision. To challenge, can imply that the other has engaged in wrong-doing, while assuming an insight oriented model requires that one reflect upon their methods and interactions with clients that can foster understanding and growth.
Having said this, I also think that the demands of our work call upon a utilitarian approach that can involve innovative or otherwise progressive methods that are unique to each family. I firmly believe that, all education and knowledge aside, it is we the front line workers who have a more succinct understanding of our clients' needs than do our supervisors, based on our daily interactions. So regardless of the approach we assume with a client, a supportive supervisor will want to engage in a discussion that fosters reflective thinking and insight versus mere challenge.
Valuable supervision involves a process that fosters learning for both supervisor and supervisee and will involve discussions that inquire as
opposed to judging.
Hi Donicka and Alex.
As far as having vision, supervisors and staff alike are limited in this by their professional mandate, the program perimeters and the availability of mind-opening information that has a surreal-like feeling to it.
Donicka, I agree with you that there is something to working closely with youth. However, sometimes I see our job as a painter who is assigned to paint a part of a wall. While close to the wall, we takce care of it, closely ensuring that it is doing well. Since our supervisors see the large wall, they can compare our skills, techniques. I have said it before, we are all imperfect, and to "engage in wrong doing" as you say, is well...inevitable. But I do believe that you paint it in too dramatic of a manner. Don't you make mistakes? Of course you do. It is just as important to learn from those mistakes as it is to have your supervisor acknowledge them,and to know that you are on top of it. I hate to quote a classic, but Socrates said that "We must have the courage to be imperfect." Also, supervision should be two people talking with one another, no lecturing, or preaching.
It's been some time since you and I discussed Kadushin's work on supervision when we met in Aviemore! That Transactional Analysis based approach is still a good starting point to explore the supervision relationship.
I think the ability to be critical without criticising about sums it up. Support without challenge is not worth much to me in supervision.