Quick tips for new social work supervisors

Daunted by providing supervision for the first time? Here are some key tips for new managers

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For new managers, supervising social workers can feel like a daunting task. Supervision is vital for high quality social work, but it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to supervising others for the first time.

David Wilkins, senior research fellow at the Tilda Goldberg Centre, University of Bedfordshire, has written Community Care Inform’s guide providing tips for new supervisors. Some of his key advice is below. Community Care Inform Children subscribers can read the full guide, as well as additional content on our supervision knowledge and practice hub.

  1. Learn from previous experiences: If you’re new to your role, you may be concerned about not having much experience providing supervision. But you will have lots of experience of receiving supervision. Thinking carefully about what you found helpful, or unhelpful, in supervision can help inform the way you provide supervision for others.
  2. Use a clear approach: Not having a clear model or structure for supervision sessions can hamper analysis and decision-making. Your local authority may already have a clear practice model, such as Signs of Safety, Motivational Social Work or Reclaiming Social Work. Or you could implement your own model of supervision – as long as you adhere to your local supervision policy.
  3. Get feedback: All social workers need to have supervision that enables them to talk openly and think critically, to reflect upon the emotional impact of the work on their behaviour and decision-making and to ensure the quality of their practice. But not every practitioner needs the same approach to supervision. Understanding what each practitioner needs and consulting with them regularly about how helpful they are finding their supervision sessions can help ensure you do not become too generic in your approach.
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