Leading with Care – Insights from Apni Shala supervision practice

इस ब्लॉग को हिंदी में पढ़ने के लिए, यहाँ क्लिक करें।

हा ब्लॉग मराठी मध्ये वाचण्यासाठी, येथे क्लिक करा.

Our mission is to support wellbeing, this starts with the people we work with – anonymous 

This article explores the role of supervision in creating wellbeing spaces for all staff at Apni Shala in alignment of organisational vision and values. It incorporates an analysis of the supervisory relationship between team members in their roles of supervisor and supervisee and how this contributes towards supervisee’s wellbeing at workplace and supports them in achieving their individual and organisational goal. This article also aims to bring out some best practices that have been followed by the team which has contributed this hope of supervision. . 

What is supervision? 

Michael Carroll, in One More Time: What is Supervision?, writes, “supervision is a forum where supervisors review and reflect on their work in order to do it better. Practitioners bring their actual work-practice to another person (individual supervision), or to a group (small group or team supervision), and with their help review what happened in their practice in order to learn from that experience. Ultimately, supervision is for better quality service. In a relationship of trust and transparency, supervisees talk about their work and through reflection and thoughtfulness learn from it and return to do it differently. Supervision is based on the assumption that reflecting on work provides the basis for learning from that work and doing it more creatively (Bolton, 2001: King and Kitchener, 1994: Moon, 1999). There is no such thing as supervision where work is not reviewed, interviewed, questioned, considered and critically reflected upon.”

In the Context of Social Work or Social Development the definition of supervision is focused on the three main functions of supervision, namely educational, administrative and supportive. The supervisor assumes several roles during supervision: those of teacher, administrator, enabler, and/or supporter. Supervision is geared towards helping the social worker better understand social work philosophy and agency policy, becoming more self-aware, knowing the agency’s and community’s resources, establishing activity priorities, and refining knowledge and skills (Barker 1991:230 and Kadushin, 1992:31).

These definitions highlight supporting supervisee (team members) to achieve their goals, building knowledge and skills, and improving oneself to do better in their own work. 

In our literature analysis, we find that at times we  miss speaking about the team’s wellbeing explicitly. When we talk about supervision, it is important to talk about wellbeing, especially in development spaces, as it brings team members in close interface with  day-to-day realities of systemic marginalisation and structural issues which may impact team’s wellbeing in so many ways. Hence, when Apni Shala got together last year to co-create the supervision framework, efforts towards creating wellbeing spaces in supervision were acknowledged and centered. 

At Apni Shala, we define supervision as, “a relational space to create support towards the achievement of defined/common goals for team members.” 

Supervision in other contexts may also be referred to as team management, leadership, or coaching.

How does supervision look like at Apni Shala?

To unpack the supervisory relationship and how it contributes in achieving goals and wellbeing, we interviewed with six team members in supervisor and supervisee roles at  Apni Shala, three in each role. 

Some of the key highlights from the interview are:

  • The framework act as blueprint – almost all interviewees shared that the framework of supervision at Apni Shala work as blueprint, where they get a sense of how to structure their supervision meetings and discussions, how to address potential challenges faced by the supervisee and the supervisor in their work, and it also act as tool to keep improving upon one’s supervision skills.     
  • Creating agenda together – in supervision meetings, both the supervisor and supervisee create their meeting notes together where they put goals for the week and brainstorm around a plan to achieve those goals. This helps both supervisor and supervisee to put things they want to discuss in meetings and have fruitful discussion.
  • Check-in’s – In meeting notes, supervisor includes check-in and check-out prompts which allows supervisee to talk and process emotions which they are experiencing, this emotion can be related to the work or related to their personal life, the supervisor tries to create safe space for the supervisee so that he or she feel free to express. The process doesn’t stop here; both supervisee and supervisor also talk about ways in which they can manage these dominant emotions.     
  • Goal Achievement – Both supervisee and supervisor go through the relevant goals during that week to share updates and seek support if required to fulfill particular goal, the supervisor and supervisee also take part in quarterly reviews where they celebrate success of achieving goals and create plans for goals which are partially met or not met with the compassion and care.   
  • Incorporation of Apni Shala Philosophy & Values: the supervisor in supervision meets incorporate philosophy and values followed and believed by organisation to best support the supervisee for example; in case where goals are not met supervisor and supervisee remind them about narrative practices and try not to enter into space of blame and shame they externalised the goals from the person involved in that goal by this the focus become the goal or problem not the person and try to achieve the goal. The supervisor and supervisee while supervision also include grounding practices which are informed by mindfulness practice of becoming compassionate towards self and towards the community we are engaging.    
  • Personal & Professional development – the supervision space also helps supervisee to identify areas of growth and take part in personal and professional development training and workshops organised by apni shala and by the externalised organization. So that they can contribute in the best way possible.   

The experiences of team members help us understand that those practices followed by supervisor and supervisee in their supervision meetings are effective in terms of achieving both individual and common goals. We noticed in our interviewee’s sharing that the supervision process allows them to talk about their dominant emotion that work may bring, process them together, and think of the ways in which they may potentially work with those emotions. This, we find in these interviews,  supports greater mental wellbeing and allows team members to stay aligned with the organization’s and personal vision, as well as with philosophy and values that bring and keep us in this work.  

What are some practices of managing, leading and supervising work in your organisations? Share with us. 

If you would like to reference our supervision framework document, reach out to hr@apnishala.org

About the author: 

Pooja Gate: She studied B.com from Mumbai University and has completed her internship with the Antarang Foundation for 2 years. Currently, she is working with Apni Shala Foundation as a Programme Facilitator. When Pooja is not facilitating sessions or working in the office you will find her dancing or spending time with friends.

Abhijeet Dhurve: He has completed his Master’ Degree in community organization and development practice (MSW) from the Tata Institute Of Social Science. He has been in the field of social work since 2011. He works at Apni Shala as a Program Lead managing partnerships and Advocacy. When Abhijeet is not working he is busy playing cricket or traveling to the places.

Reference :

Supervision Experiences at Apni Shala supervisee

Supervision Experiences at Apni Shala ( supervisors)  

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