HR Surgery

Six Steps to Successful Supervision

All line managers are required to manage their staff teams, for social care the supervision meeting is crucial to the success of that management relationship.

Here are six simple steps you can take to ensure all parties get the most out of supervision:

1. Agree, Share & Juggle the Agenda
Aim for supervision to be a conversation rather than a monologue by building the agenda together. You may have regular standing items but you will both need to deal with what has happened most recently be it praise worthy or an opportunity to correct practice/performance. Training and Development is often the final item and risks being missed due to time constraints, to manage this juggle your agenda items for each meeting to ensure all areas are covered throughout the year.

2. Regular and Reliable Meetings
Plan them in advance for the year in your calendars and try not to keep moving them unless due to emergency, holiday or sickness. Agree together the frequency, duration of meetings and that if either person has to change a date they will be responsible for re-arranging a new date. Sessions should be undisturbed unless there is an emergency. If organisational pressures are preventing supervision from happening consider temporary alternatives such as Skype or group supervision.

3. Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
Take notes in the meeting in whatever form you find useful mind maps, linear notes, bullet points are all acceptable so long as you can recall the detail when you come to read them again – incredibly helpful to have when you come to the annual appraisal preparation and a range of other management interventions.

4. Be Aware of the Bigger Picture
Don’t just discuss what is in front of you, a purely task based conversation risks being boring so try and find time to discuss your organisation's performance as a whole, it helps staff especially those working remotely to feel connected.

5. Use Reflective Practice to Capture and Evaluate Work Based Learning
Most learning is done on the job. Use reflective practice in supervision to identify and evaluate learning that has happened on the job. Ask what has gone well and what they would do differently since your last supervision. Ask how you can support them with learning opportunities?

6. Nuture the Supervision Triangle
There are three key relationships to a successful supervision; the supervisee, the supervisor and client/work issues. The learning and development of the supervisee is the key reason for supervision but to ensure the triangular relationship is maintained so too are the continuous development of the supervisor and client/work load issues.

The response is for information only and does not constitute professional or legal advice.

Pivotalpr Logo

A Holdaway

Andrew Holdaway is the founder of Pivotal HR, provider of a comprehensive range of HR services to SME social care organisations.

Andrew has worked in the sector for 15 years and chose to specialise in social care because of the clear contribution effective people management, development and leadership make to the delivery of high quality, safe, person centred and cost effective services.

Please send your queries to Terri Myers at

Only Members will have their questions answered by Andrew. Another reason to join the Skills Academy!

Of course this will be anonymous these and they will be treated as utterly confidential.

To read and comment on this and previous HR Forums please go to the My NSA member discussion area. 

Can't find what you're looking for?

Contact Us and we'll get you started on the leadership pathway to excellence in social care.