What is a supervision agreement
The most important part of effective professional supervision is the relationship between the supervisor and the supervisee.
"The ability to establish and maintain the supervisory relationship is a core requirement of a supervisor."
Davys and Beddoe, 2010
The supervision agreement is the written document that determines how the participants will work together to achieve mutually-set goals.
A supervision agreement should include:
- the purpose and goals of supervision
- roles and responsibilities
- frequency and duration of supervision sessions
- other processes that may be used between supervision sessions or to enhance formal supervision
- who will provide supervision if the supervisor is absent
- evaluation of the supervisory relationship
- the process for resolving disagreements or issues
- when the agreement will be reviewed.
Who needs a supervision agreement
All Oranga Tamariki practitioners who work directly with tamariki, and their supervisors, team leaders or managers.
Creating the supervision agreement
Creating a supervision agreement is a process of collaborative negotiation between the supervisor and supervisee.
"The supervisory relationship is underpinned by the development of a trusting, respectful and open relationship, within which “risks may be taken, innovations attempted, challenges raised and development enhanced."
Participants negotiate the terms of the agreement in relation to:
- organisational and professional requirements
- setting clear expectations and boundaries
- managing conflict and resolving concerns
- goal setting
- what each person brings to the supervisory relationship.
The five stages
Participants should follow these five stages (based on Mastering Social Work Supervision, Jane Wonnacott, 2012) in their discussions while establishing the relationship. The end product of this process is the supervision agreement.
1 Establish the mandate
- What do the Oranga Tamariki policy and standards say about how to carry out supervision?
- What's negotiable in the supervision process?
- What's non-negotiable?
- What can the supervisor expect from the supervisee?
- What can the supervisee expect from the supervisor?
- What are shared responsibilities?
- What are the understandings about confidentiality?
- How and what will be recorded, who will keep the records and for what purpose?
2 Engage with the supervisee
- What are the supervisee’s previous experiences of supervision?
- In relation to their past supervision experience, what is the best approach to support and motivate them?
- What are the participants’ values and attitudes in relation to culture, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation?
- What beliefs does each participant have about the nature and purpose of working with tamariki and whānau, in particular the use of power over service users?
- What is the preferred learning style of the supervisee and how does this relate to the supervisor’s preferred style?
- How does the supervisee react when stressed or anxious and how would the supervisor become aware of this?
3 Acknowledge ambivalence
- How will the supervisor know when the supervisee is experiencing significant emotion in relation to the work?
- What is the role of supervision in exploring uncertainties, distress or discomfort about their work?
- Is it ok to be open about not always feeling in control or competent in the work?
- How do we manage conflict or any difficulties that are not able to be addressed within supervision?
4 The written agreement
- Who takes responsibility for completing the written document?
- Where will the agreement be kept?
- When will it be accessed?
5 Reviewing the agreement
Ideally, the initial supervision agreement should be reviewed after three months, and then every year thereafter.
- Since the last agreement, what has gone well?
- Are there any parts of the agreement that have not been followed? If not, what was the reason?
- Can supervision be improved and what role can we take to facilitate this?