I am curious as to the thoughts of manager tools members with regard to supervision and one-on-ones.

In the social welfare field supervision is common practice and in essence this supervision can look very similar to one-on-ones as described by Mark and Mike. Supervision was historically oriented towards clinical case support and guidance, however more recently has been understood in a more comprehensive manner.

While the clinical component is still integral for frontline practitioners such as psychologists, counsellers, family workers, social workers etc, people like the late Tony Morisson have encouraged a policy shift for supervision to also include functions of management, development, support and mediation.

For five years I have been receiving and providing supervision, and while many organisations struggle to uphold their commitments toward supervision, it is nonetheless a relatively regular feature across the sector.

As a result of the MT recommendations on one-on-ones, I have shifted my supervision to weekly instead of fortnightly.

Perhaps this is something that certain parts of the not for profit sector can bring to the private sector, I don't know; but I am interested to know what others think of this, and if anyone else from this sector has wondered the same thing. 


Mark's picture

What do you mean by supervision? Of whom, by whom? We mean it generally as a boss overseeing the work effectiveness of a subordinate whose performance the boss os responsible for. It would have no mental health component, or therapy or counseling (in the psychological sense).

Sent from seat 6b, aa flight aa753, lga-DFW.

thinking_aloud's picture

I am referring to supervision in a similar sense, as it doesn't have a mental health or therapy component between the manager and the direct.

However where it differs, is that a significant focus is also about providing clinical case support and therapeutic advice for directs. E.g. Direct: the family I am supporting is homeless but not willing to access homelessness services due to mental health issues and there is a 6 month wait for a mental health program. What therapeutic approach could I take to try to get some small gains with the family over the next 6 months? Supervisor/Manager: Have you considered...

Sometimes, due to expertise in different areas, an organisation may have the clinical component  (case support) and the managerial component (workplace admin, procedural changes, professional development, de-briefing, and a bit that looks somewhat like O3's) separated between two people. 

Because supervision in this field is so intrenched almost all employees expect at least 2 hours fortnightly, and organisations have clear policies about what to expect in supervision. The biggest difficulty is ensuring that managers give a balance to the different functions of supervision.

The practice of supervision continues up through the organisations hierarchy, even when case support is no longer relevant, and this is where it really starts looking more like O3's.

At least on the surface therefore, O3's and what I think of as 'supervision' can be similar, and since it such a fantastic thing to be doing with staff, I was wondering if there had been any discussion or thought regarding this intersect with the social welfare field. For example, perhaps others who also undertake supervision in this sense may feel differently- and it would be good to talk about that and learn from them.

Thanks for replying Mark and I hope you had a good flight.



wendii's picture


I am familiar with supervision in the contexts in which you're thinking of.

Supervision is different to O3's. Supervision is about clients and a professional approach to them; O3's are about the direct and building relationships. Supervision is technical and about the work; O3's are managerial and about the relationship.

In that sense, unless you have O3's and supervision from the same person, it's the equivalent of being in a matrix.

Since giving and receiving supervision is a specific technical skill it's not within the remit of Manager Tools (in the same way we don't give guidance on how to create an IT system or what an accountant needs to know).


thinking_aloud's picture

Thanks for your feedback Wendii,

I am used to the managerial and relationship components being combined into supervision, and I guess thats what I was thinking with regards to the topic. I understand what you are saying though, and I can see that the technical skill conversations are not within the remit of MT, and it makes to thinks of the different functions separately.

AGarth's picture

i am a manager of a social housing program in Melbourne Australia.

we also have an entrenched Supervision process. i have been toying with alternate weeks. one week a supervision session and one week a O3. as my supervision sessions start very similar to O3s i have integrated some more managerial processes into my staff meetings and supervision sessions including a large focus on sucession planning.

it is working ok at the moment but is still in need of a tweak.

Aaron Garth