chapter  3
42 Pages

ACTIVATING SYNERGISTIC SUPERVISION APPROACHES

Supervision is a cumulative process, not an event. Good supervision must be measured by the additive effect of numerous interventions, which include instruction, psychological support, directives, and sometimes crisis management. To be effective, one must provide supervision on a regular reoccurring basis. If supervision is only provided when there is a problem or the new professional has made a mistake or error in judgment, then supervision likely will be viewed as punitive-no matter the supervisor’s intentions. If supervision becomes linked in the new professional’s mind only with negative feedback, she or he is likely to deploy strategies that will limit or avoid interaction with the supervisor and to attempt to conceal problems as long as possible (Winston & Creamer, 1997). Synergistic supervision explicitly focuses both on promoting the interests of the institution and the staff member’s present and future welfare. It is the totality of the interactions with the new professional that ultimately determines the supervisor’s effectiveness and worth (Winston & Creamer, 1997). (See chapter 1 for a detailed description of the theoretical underpinnings and constructs that define synergistic supervision.)

This chapter deals with some of the issues that supervisors of new professionals (NPs) face on a regular, if not daily, basis and suggests approaches supervisors can consider when devising their supervision schema. For most problems there are no easy, formulaic answers. What we offer are some perspectives to frame issues and suggestions that supervisors might try as they work with new professionals. As in all human relationships, one must take into account many variables, including personality characteristics, the situation, level of knowledge and experience, background, and the institutional and societal context, when supervising both new and seasoned professionals.