Supervision skills

Transferable skills, dispositions and roles needed in supervision

Supervision draws on a range of skills and attitudes that are important in ministry generally.  These include, active listening, praying with others, theological reflection, facilitation, negotiation, evaluation, evidential report writing.

Supervisors need to be: trustworthy; clear about their role and authority and its limits; hospitable; boundaried; empathetic; intentional; transparent; compassionate and courageous.

Supervisees need to be: trustworthy; clear about the process and their role and its limits; intentional; open; courageous; hospitable to the suggestions of others.

At different times the supervisor will draw on a range of different skill sets:

  • as administrator, making sure the process happens and that records are kept;
  • as facilitator, opening up an issue for exploration by asking questions or suggesting a way of working through the issue;
  • as teacher, helping the supervisee to learn something specific;
  • as consultant, drawing on their own experience to illuminate what's happening;
  • as evaluator, tracking and monitoring what's happening in the session or in the supervision relationship as a whole

The process of supervision involves a structured journey that goes through a number of phases.  The various transferable skills needed are plotted here against some of these skills, attitudes and roles.

Hosting & Containing

  • Welcoming people and putting them at ease
  • Putting aside your personal agenda and focusing on the person and the matter in hand
  • Setting up a room to be hospitable and appropriate to the occasion
  • Offering prayer in a way that is not manipulative but opens up encounter with God and the possibility of common discernment

Eliciting & Focusing

  • Active listening
    • Asking open questions
    • Asking clarifying questions
    • Listening to what is not being said or only partially being said
    • Listening to body language and other non-verbal communication
    • Listening to tone and not just content
    • Waiting and allowing the other person to make the meaning or say more
    • Taking seriously the questions and concerns of the other
    • Clarifying what you think you have heard
  • Negotiation
    • Knowing by what authority you act
    • Knowing what you need to achieve, e.g. identification and assessment of risks
    • Being open and transparent when naming the issues
    • Inviting honest response and engagement

Exploring and Reflecting

  • Theological Reflection
    • Avoiding instant problem solving
    • Asking what, why, how?
    • Suspending judgement
    • Asking what's behind things?
    • Asking what things mean?
    • Inviting new ways to think about things
    • Offering theological resources and other perspectives
    • Rehearsing possible responses
  • Facilitation
    • Identifying the issue to be explored through active listening and/or negotiation
    • Designing a process that will serve the purpose (Is there a decision to make? Are creative ideas needed? Are better strategies needed? Do the participants need to empathise more? Or get more distance? Does something need to be taught? Is this an emergency?)

Bridging and Enacting

  • Being process focused and checking that the process is serving the kind of outcome needed
  • Facilitating an exploration of ways forward
  • Naming issues that cannot be left

Reviewing and Closing

  • Skills of making good endings
    • Remembering the context to which participants are returning
    • Inviting the naming of learning/impact of session
    • Summing up actions to be taken in writing

Tracking and Evaluating

  • Time keeping - making good use of the time and allowing time for the whole process
  • Evaluation.  What are the person's needs? How is this person getting on? Are the Methodist Church's policies and codes of conduct being met?
  • Record keeping according to the data protection act

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