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Supervision is Teaching, Show Knowledge and Candor Published: Sunday, August 19, 2007 By: Dr. Manuel Ángel Morales

Supervision (being capable of demonstrating that you have a super vision), as an activity, falls somewhere of overlap between teaching and counseling. Regarding of differences among these endeavors it is more a matter of social and academic labeling or reflections of distintict interactional patterns. My point is that differences between teaching and counseling as part of the supervision venture can’t be readily recognize.

Supervision is a teaching in that involves the supervisor helping the supervisee to master knowledge and skills that are specifiable.  And supervision, in the counseling sense, is like therapy, mentorship or coaching in that involves significant relationship in which the supervisor attempts to modify behavior or bring about changes in the supervisee’s thoughts, feelings, and actions, especially self-directed ones.

People come to the supervisor for help with their problems, searching for wisdom, support and recommendations.  Both the nature of the difficulties and challenges that arise in the course of supervision, and the ways of dealing with them, has some similarities with the diligences of teaching and counseling.

When supervision is going smoothly, the role of the supervisor is more like that of a teacher.  Issues of acquiring knowledge and skills predominate, and the supervisor attempts to explain and clarify things as much as possible, and as necessary, in order to facilitate learning, growth and development.

When problems arise, however, the supervisor may have to become more of a counselor.  Rather than focusing solely on the content at hand, the supervisor may have direct interventions toward the honest and sincere relationship in order to get the process moving again.  Supervising is about getting thing moving, assuring that the work gets done in on adequate manner, and that results are quickly achieved.

Within organizational settings, very often, interventions are used as ways of dealing with behavioral, execution, interaction and relationship difficulties.  These approaches for modifying behavioral patterns are very consistent with the goals of counseling, and are actually designed to support them.  Counseling within an institutional environment is use to resolve impasses in supervision, particularly when more technical approaches or methods had failed or simply do not contribute to any solution.

Thus, mastering supervision, requires, among other things: 1) persuasive communication (stressing the shift in values and behaviors); 2) participation (empowering supervisees through increase involvement in organizational processes and decision-making); 3) expectancy (acting in ways that will motivate individuals to reach new levels of execution and results); 4) Role-modeling (setting positive and inspirational examples); 5) redesigning work (create behavioral change by altering organizational structure, work design and processes); 6) using extrinsic rewards (reinforcing desired behavioral change); 7) coercion (influence and control behavior at strategic and operational points).

So, these organizational dynamics are part of a very interesting game.  While the novelty may wear off after a while, a certain amount of laughter (and enjoyment) can be cultivated in the context of work.  Some people argue that it helps to try not to laugh, or at least not to laugh too much.  But I say, be careful with the trend to search for a constant cry...  When supervisors and supervisees laugh some implicit rules may even be made explicit or some secrets hinted out.  At the end, this is a game of learning, always showing the knowledge and the sensitivity to improve the kind of execution that takes us to achieve results.  When supervising, show the knowledge, teach, counsel, and demonstrate candor.


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