Why is supervision so important for Coaches?
Supervision is not a new concept and “at its root .. ‘supervision’ implies a process of overseeing the work of another” (BPS, 2021). Over time the concept of supervision has developed and been influenced by various disciplines including social work and psychotherapeutic approaches, consequently, there are numerous definitions.
Hawkins and Schwenk (2006) explored a definition of supervision suggesting that is a “structured formal process for coaches, with the help of a coaching supervisor, to attend to improving the quality of their coaching, grow their coaching capacity and support themselves and their practice. Supervision should also be a source of organisational learning.”
Coaching supervision in practice provides a formal process of professional support, “which ensures continuing development of the coach and the effectiveness of his/her coaching practice through interactive reflection interpretative evaluation, and the sharing of expertise” Bachkirova, Stevens & Willis (2005). Within this process, the coach is able to explore with their supervisor how they approach coaching situations and the approaches they use(d). A supervision discussion can weave between being collegial and collaborative depending on context and content but it is not intended as a formal way of policing the discipline but rather a collaborative process through which coach and supervisor explore what worked and what may not have proved quite so successful, reflective practice and application of approaches wherein the coach is encouraged to grow and develop through practised reflection.
Through dialogue encompassing shared experience, the supervision process offers a safe, confidential and supported environment in which the coachee is challenged to consider different vantage points within the coaching dynamic as well as ensure ethical competency within their professional boundaries. The process considers the entire system surrounding the supervisee and their client-work and seeks to bring value to all those stakeholders connected to that work (Clutterbuck et al., 2016).
The benefits of quality supervision.
Supervision can provide a method of protection and help to maintain standards by the process where practice examples can be discussed within the supervision contract, offering insight and focus around areas such as professional ethics and decision making as well as seeking to explore and challenge work within professional boundaries linked to the coach’s governing body(s). The supervisor and supervisee are able to gain insights and clear direction with the objective of working more effectively with all stakeholders and relate their learning to practice.
Supervision benefits can also include development and provide the opportunity to learn as well as provide and receive feedback. Practical support can be offered and alternative perspectives, approaches and methodologies can come from a supervisor with different or more experience than the coach has.
The supervision process enables the supervisee’s work to be reviewed in order to help them develop new ways of working and explore alternative approaches that they might not otherwise have considered. The benefit of supervision in this instance can be to provide an alternative “lens” on a situation or case and offer alternative suggestions or approaches that the supervisee can in turn apply within their practice.
A further benefit of supervision is the opportunity it provides to recognise strengths. A supervision meeting can help to shine a spotlight on what is working well within a supervisee’s practice.
Hawkins and Smith (2013) refer to the three “functions” of supervision being qualitative, developmental and resourcing.
Working with clients can be emotionally draining and coaching supervision provides a vehicle for support for practitioners whilst also ensuring that boundaries between client and coach are recognised, evaluated and “checked” in a professional way ensuring an appropriate level of care, safety and professionalism between all stakeholders in addition to emotionally resourcing the coach.