Staff supervision policy
The aim of this policy is to provide a framework for the one to one supervision of all staff working for Children and Maternity Services, Social Care. The policy has been written, following consultation, to ensure it meets the needs of the service, the staff and their supervisors, regardless of the professional area in which they work.
The States of Guernsey, Health and Social Services Department aims to provide high quality services in consultation with, and responsive to, the citizens, partners and other stakeholders within Guernsey and Alderney. The Children and Maternity Services Social Care aims to provide appropriate, responsive and flexible services for the most vulnerable citizens of Guernsey and Alderney and can only do this if the staff employed by the Directorate:
- Understand what is expected of them.
- Have the skills, knowledge, behaviours, values and attitudes necessary to carry out their role.
- Are fully supported in their work and managed effectively.
Supervision is one of the integral ways to achieving this. This policy sets out how staff can expect to be supervised and provides managers with the key elements needed to supervise staff effectively.
Definition of supervision within the performance management framework
Individual performance management within Children and Maternity Social Care involves three elements:
Supervision - a regular formal one to one meeting between the supervisor and supervisee in order to meet organisational, professional and personal objectives.
Appraisal - an annual meeting (reviewed six monthly), the aims of which are for the individual and their supervisor to:
- Identify what has gone well, and what hasn't gone so well over the last year.
- Set measurable objectives and/or targets in line with their team objectives and/or targets for the coming year.
- Have the opportunity to identify learning and development to help them carry out their jobs better, both now and in the future.
For further information on the appraisal process go to the States of Guernsey Intranet:
Learning and Development Plan - this forms part of the appraisal process and aims to encourage the supervisee to identify and evaluate learning that has taken place during the previous year and plan for learning and development opportunities for the coming year. Within six months of the last Appraisal the Learning and Developmental Plan will need to be reviewed to ensure that the plans are still relevant and up to date in accordance with any changes, e.g. in working practices.
The supervision process is a key part of the performance management framework as outlined above. Discussions held and recorded during supervision will inform part of the appraisal process.
This personal learning and development plan contributes to the Departmental Training Needs Analysis.
Scope of this policy
This policy applies to:
- All staff employed by HSSD Children and Maternity Services, Social Care whether on a temporary (including agency staff),sessional, permanent, full time or part time basis.
- Supervisors employed by other agencies with responsibility for the supervision of social services staff.
Functions of supervision
The four main functions of supervision are:
- Learning and Development
These four functions are interdependent, that is one function cannot be effectively performed without the others. An over-emphasis on, for example, management, will leave the supervisee feeling that they are being overly controlled and that the only purpose of supervision is to 'check up on them'. An over-emphasis on support will result in important discussions about workload, decision-making, and accountability being neglected leading to a danger of supervision becoming counselling.Each function is described in detail below.
This function is to ensure that the work for which the supervisee may be held accountable is carried out to a satisfactory standard. Discussion during supervision should include:
- The overall quality of the supervisee's performance and work output/timescales/outcome.
- The policies and procedures relating to their work and that these are understood and followed.
- The role and responsibilities of the supervisee and that these are clearly understood, including the boundaries and limits of their role.
- The development and monitoring of action plans/targets and objectives.
- Monitoring of the supervisee's workload.
2. Learning and Development
This function is to encourage and assist staff in reflecting on their own performance, identify their own learning and development needs and develop plans or identify opportunities to address those needs.
The learning and development function will be achieved through:
- Reflecting on supervisees learning style and barriers to learning.
- Assessing development needs and identifying learning opportunities.
- Giving and receiving constructive feedback on performance.
- Encouraging the supervisee to reflect on learning opportunities and applying that learning to the workplace.
This function recognises that, from time to time, supervisees may require support to carry out their role; this may be because of particular situations, specific incidents or personal issues that may temporarily impact on their work performance. By offering support within the supervision context supervisees should be given the opportunity to reflect on the impact of the work upon them and prevent issues adversely affecting them and their work.
This will be achieved through:
- Creating a safe, secure and effective environment within supervision
- Clarifying the boundaries between support and counselling
- Enabling and empowering expression of feelings in relation to the work role
- Monitoring the health of the supervisee and referring to other support services when required
This function is to ensure that the relationship between the supervisee, their team, the organisation and other agencies with whom they work are effective.
This will be achieved through:
- Briefing senior managers about key issues.
- Dealing sensitively but clearly with concerns and complaints about colleagues and others with whom they work.
- Consulting and briefing staff on changes and developments that affect their area of work.
- Advocating between worker or team and other parts of the agency or with outside agencies.
This policy is concerned primarily with one to one supervision that takes place in private at a pre-arranged time with an agreed agenda and preparation on behalf of both parties. All staff within the directorate will have access to this method of supervision. It is recognised, however, that supervision is much more than these one to one sessions; it is an on-going process that takes place in many different settings and in many different ways. The two main methods, other than formal one to one sessions, are outlined below, they have a place but cannot and should not replace planned, formal, recorded, one to one sessions.
This should not replace individual supervision but can be used to complement it. It will involve a group of staff, all involved in the same task, meeting with a supervisor to discuss issues about their work or the way they work together as a team. This may be done in the context of a regular team meeting or as a separate session to look at specific issues.
Unplanned or 'ad-hoc' supervision
The pace of work, changes and the necessary frequency of supervision means that staff often have to 'check something out' with a supervisor, obtain a decision or gain permission to do something in between formal supervision sessions. In addition, staff who work closely with their supervisor will be communicating daily about work issues, problems arising, changes in policies or procedures. This form of supervision is, of course, a normal and acceptable part of the staff/supervisor relationship.There are two points to be borne in mind when considering unplanned or ad-hoc supervision:
- Any decisions made with regard to a service user should be clearly recorded on the service user's file.
- Where supervisees and supervisors work closely together this does not negate the need for private one to one time together on a regular basis. The focus of these sessions is wholly on the individual, their development, performance and any issues arising from their work that do not arise on a day-to-day basis.
It should be noted that in some settings the day to day supervisor for a particular member of staff may change according to shift patterns and rotas. The one to one sessions, however, should always be carried out by the same supervisor for a particular member of staff. If a supervisee is subjected to frequent changes of supervisor it is difficult for a relationship based on trust, openness and honesty to be established and confidentiality may be, or may be perceived to be, unnecessarily compromised. If a supervisor is absent from work for a long period (over one month) the senior manager should ensure that effective arrangements are in place for the supervision of the staff in that section.
Frequency of supervision
The frequency of supervision should reflect:
- The minimum requirements placed on service areas according to best practice guidance - often monthly for 1 ½ hours.
- The supervisee's level of experience and competence (not necessarily length of service, although staff new to a role may require more frequent supervision).
- If the supervisee is in the probationary period (i.e. first six months of service) supervision should take place fortnightly. These may be quite short supervision sessions but they will enable the supervisor to assess the supervisee's suitability for permanent employment and ensure an effective relationship is formed in the early days of the supervisee's employment.
- Any particular circumstances that apply to the supervisee that means they may require more frequent supervision (e.g. a difficult piece of work, the level of risk associated with work, personal difficulties or relationships, performance issues or levels of stress).
- Staff not working in a social work or social care role should be supervised at no less than 12 weekly intervals.
- The actual frequency for individuals should be agreed between the supervisor and supervisee when negotiating the terms of the Individual Supervision Agreement but no less than monthly.
- Any deviation from the recommended frequency detailed above, as a permanent feature should be by agreements between the two parties and should be clearly recorded in the Individual Supervision Agreement.
- Agency and temporary staff should receive supervision in the same way as permanent staff as detailed above.
The recording of supervision sessions is the responsibility of the supervisor. The supervisor must adhere to the following standards of recording; this will be checked during the quality assurance process (see page 13).
- The detail included in the supervision record is a matter of judgement for the supervisor. In general the record should be detailed enough so that the issue can be revisited, if necessary, at a later date and still be understood. A short summary of the discussion and the decisions or action points arising from it should be sufficient in most cases.
- Where possible supervision records should be typed. If the supervisor is unable to type them personally they should be passed to a member of the support services section to be typed.
Note: this should be with the agreement of the supervisee, should form part of the Individual Supervision Agreement and the actual content negotiated if issues of a very personal or confidential nature are discussed.
- If the supervisor prefers to handwrite them this is permissible providing it forms part of the Individual Supervision Agreement and the supervisor's writing is legible.
- Supervisors should aim to give a copy of the record to the supervisee for signature within two weeks. If this is not possible they should be with the supervisee before the next supervision session. This should form part of the Individual Supervision Agreement.
- Records should clearly detail any decisions that have been made, and the reasons for these any agreed actions including who will take responsibility and the timescale for carrying out these actions.
- The records should be signed and dated by both parties. If there is disagreement as to the content of the record this should be recorded by the supervisor. A copy should be retained by both parties.
- Whilst it is recognised that many staff prefer to keep records on computer systems, in the case of supervision records hard copies must be taken. This is to both safeguard the supervisor and supervisee in the case of investigations (e.g. disciplinary or complaints investigation) and to ensure that records are not altered in any way.
Confidentiality and Access
Supervision is a private but not a confidential process. This means that the records are the property of the organisation, not the individual. From time to time supervisors will need to discuss the content of supervision sessions with others, e.g. their own line manager, this should always be with the knowledge of the supervisee.
Access to supervision records should be controlled and all records should be locked away so that others who do not have a legitimate right to see the records cannot access them. Supervisees should be aware, however, that other than themselves and their supervisor others will, from time to time, access records, these might include:
- Senior Managers (for quality assurance purposes)
- Investigating officers (e.g. for disciplinary purposes)
- Performance staff (e.g. for audit and quality assurance purposes)
Storage and Retention
The Individual Supervision Agreement and the supervision records will be kept on the supervisee's file held by the supervisor or in an agreed place, in a locked cabinet. It is a matter for the supervisor what other documents are held with the supervision records, these may include appraisal documents, sickness documents and correspondence.
Providing effective supervision workforce development guide
When a supervisee leaves the employment of the States of Guernsey, the records should be retained for two years after the member of staff has left and then shredded. Where a member of staff transfers to another section or supervisor within the directorate their records should be passed onto the new supervisor. (For further information please see HSSD Policy, Retention and Destruction of Records (G102))
Individual Supervision Agreements
The process of developing an Individual Supervision Agreement is as important as the written document itself. This process should begin at the first supervision session though it may not be completed in one session. The purpose of the Individual Supervision Agreement is to establish a basis for which the supervisor and supervisee will work together during one to one supervisions. This establishment of 'ground rules' should be through negotiation and should clarify the rights and expectations on both sides to create a safe, secure and effective supervisory setting. It is worth noting that when the supervision relationship breaks down, or is less than satisfactory for either party, it is usually because of a lack of clarity or a mismatch of expectations from the outset.
When establishing the supervision agreement the following should be discussed:
- The purpose of supervision.
- The frequency of supervision (see page 8).
- The venue for the supervision sessions (note: this should always be in a private room where others cannot easily overhear).
- Any specific responsibilities of both supervisor and supervisee.
- The recording of supervision, including where records will be kept to safeguard confidentiality, whether records will be typed or handwritten, how quickly records will be given to the supervisee for signature.
- The arrangements for any ad-hoc or unplanned supervision.
- The complaints and review process.
- The practical arrangements (e.g. the process if supervision has to be cancelled/rearranged, an agreement that supervision will be uninterrupted, the anticipated length of time for each session).
- The arrangements for agenda setting (e.g. both parties to submit agendas before the session, at the start of the session etc).
Each Individual Supervision Agreement will be different and should be regarded as a "living document that is changed according to the changing needs of the supervisee, an example of this may be where the frequency of supervision has been agreed and this subsequently changes as the member of staff gains confidence in their role. As a minimum it should be reviewed annually.
A pro forma Individual Supervision Agreement is found here . Supervisors and supervisees should agree if this will be utilised or if a more individual document should be developed to meet their particular needs.
In order to be effective the supervision process requires monitoring and quality assurance arrangements.
The quality assurance process ensures that:
- The standards of supervision as outlined in this policy are being followed.
- Staff are being supervised and process is being followed.
- Supervision sessions are being recorded.
- Individual Supervision Agreements are being developed, reviewed and used.
- The supervision process promotes equal opportunities and anti-discriminatory practice.
The quality assurance arrangements involve:
- The auditing of a random selection of supervision files on a six monthly basis by senior managers.
- Discussion during supervision, for example, between service manager and team manager, about the team manager's practice in supervising their staff. The senior manager may request copies of supervision records as evidence of practice and to use as a tool where there are developmental needs on behalf of the team manager.
A quality assurance monitoring sheet is here . Each line manager is expected to complete this sheet and it should be available on request from the senior/service manager.
Supervisees should be clear about whom they should contact if they feel the terms of their supervision agreement are not being met. How supervisees make a complaint and who to (named manager) should be included in the Individual Supervision Agreement. Supervisees should always discuss any complaints or dissatisfaction in the first instance with their supervisor and endeavour to reach an agreement within the normal supervision process. If the complaint cannot be resolved by discussion with the supervisor the supervisee should raise the issue with their supervisor's manager.
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