The primary purpose of supervision is to rise above the clouds and ensure that the needs of the coach or leader are met in the most professional, safe and appropriate manner. Within the context of generic coaching practice this may mean the application of more reflective or psychological principles. One definition of supervision is:
‘Coaching supervision is a formal process of professional support which ensures continuing development of the individual and effectiveness of their coaching practice through interactive reflection, interpretative evaluation and the sharing of expertise’ (Bachkirova, Stevens & Willis, 2005).
Supervision builds a non-judgemental reflective relationship between both supervisors and supervisees. It supports them to think about themselves as part of the client-coach system and the ways in which they are meeting the needs of their clients or staff. The purpose of supervision is to enhance the effectiveness of the supervisee; ensuring that ethical standards are maintained throughout the process. The result is greater coaching and leadership competence and self-awareness.
The main aims of supervision are for the supervisee to:
– Consider how they are meeting the needs of their clients/staff
– Reflect on and develop their coaching practice
– Explore their approach and practice in a supportive and challenging environment
– Enrich and build on their relationship with the supervisee and the organisation
– Develop new approaches and learning in order to be more effective
– Ensure high standards of ethics in the leadership & coaching process
So how do supervisors ensure that supervision is effective for the organisation and also support the manager as coach (or mentor) in their own professional development?
Here are some top tips for the supervisor:
1. Check in when beginning sessions to share recent experiences and feelings
2. When supervising, ensure you listen at a deeper level for what is NOT said as well as what is
3. Take note of your body language and voice tone to ensure a non-judgemental environment
4. When possible, allow the supervisee to choose the environment and to sit in a place of their choice
5. Encourage the supervisee to reflect and use the session to explore issues and challenges
6. Stay still in the silences and refrain from interrupting the flow of thoughts
7. Ask short questions using their words and language then reflect back what you hear
8. When giving advice and suggestions, do so with no judgement or attachment
9. Both for yourself and the supervisee encourage deep breathing to relieve stress
10. Take time both before and after sessions to reflect on key areas
Jackie Arnold has run her own executive coaching and supervision practice Coach 4 Executive since 1998.