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Supervision: Effective Clinical Relationships with your Supervisees
Supervision continuing education MFT CEU

Section 11
What to Expect When You're Doing Supervision/Coaching Right

Question 11 | Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | Supervision
Social Worker CEU, Psychologist CE, Counselor CEU, & MFT CEU

As an effective coach, you will begin to experience very specific, very real results - and results make coaching exciting. When you see supervisees growing and changing, and you know you are contributing to that growth - that's one of the most exciting things that can happen to you as a supervisor and StaffCoachTM.

As you recall, you should use your coaching role for supervisees who are performing above their fob standards. In the coaching role, your primary goals are to practice involvement that builds trust, clarify and verify your team communications, affirm, motivate and inspire. Here are some of the results you can expect to see when you are effectively performing that role.
o Clarification of performance expectations
o Changes In point of view
o Increased self-sufficiency/autonomy
o Insight into behavior and feelings
o Acceptance of difficult tasks

1. Clarification of performance expectations
When you properly perform the coaching role, both you and your team members have a clearer understanding of what performance is expected. Because you talk with your supervisees, you have a clearer picture of what each can do. And they get a clearer picture of what you expect. Quite often, this increased communication inspires both of you to greater achievement.

2. Changes In point of view
Because you are involved, respectful of team-member opinions and affirming their skills and goals, you will learn more about the other person's point of view. And because you are encouraging and inspiring others, you will be changing their points of view - helping them catch a new and broader perspective and professional vision.

3. Increased self-sufficiency/autonomy
An important outcome of effective coaching is the increase in the self-sufficiency and autonomy of team members. Being coached should help give team members a freeing new identity ... a sense of importance. It imparts confidence. It gradually eliminates the individual's need to prove his worthiness. Instead, it allows team members to rechannel "ego-energy" into collective goals. Once team members are secure about how you view them ... and how they can perform ... they are ready to energize teammates who may not be as self-sufficient. If you coach a team like that, congratulations! You're doing exactly what a great coach is supposed to do!

4. Insight Into behavior and feelings
There's an important concept you need to understand as a coach: Thoughts become feelings and feelings become behavior. Sounds simple enough, but unless you are conscious of the process, you can fall into the habit of responding to supervisees with emotional "knee jerks." You will be more likely to react negatively to the supervisees who have typically been difficult - and more likely to react positively to those who haven't made waves. That can be very damaging to growth - yours and the team's.

Why? Because it reinforces the subconscious idea that supervisees are valuable only when they perform at expected levels. And, as we've discussed, that kind of message does not "free" people to be people!

Here's a three-step process to monitor the "knee-jerk" response tendency:
When someone does or says something that bothers you, instead of blowing up, stop and take a deep breath. Then, ask yourself three questions:

a. " What part of this problem is the employee's and what part may be mine?"
For instance, have you ever been given "great" tickets to a sporting event, only to discover that you are much farther from the field or court than you imagined? You find yourself sitting there seething inwardly about the injustice of it all ... even when the seats are free!
The same situation can occur in the work environment when team-member attitudes or actions conflict with your expectations. Someone's choice of clothing may seem inappropriate for a client presentation. Someone's phone manner may seem grating or insensitive. Maybe those observations are true and need to be addressed. But first examine yourself - avoid a "knee-jerk" response! You may find the difficulty lies in your negative expectations, not in the employee's actual behavior.

b. "What is the specific feeling that I'm choosing to feel because of this action?"
Note the key word, "choosing." You have the ability to reject or accept feelings. As a coach, you have the responsibility to do that!

c. "What is the root reason for my feelings?'
What lies at the core of your anger, frustration, disappointment or bitterness? Does it really bear on this specific action or does it have its roots in something totally unrelated?

None of us approaches any experience totally free of experiences that preceded it. And that's good. After all, if we didn't learn from bad experiences and use that knowledge to avoid repeating them, we would be in trouble. But, if we're not careful, we can also allow experiences from the past to hinder or prevent positive responses in the present.

The truth is, a bad haircut really can cause us to respond more negatively to people and events than we would normally. An unexplained dent in your new car can make you sound curt to a client on the phone. But, knowing that, a coach must evaluate his responses -otherwise, your team members will begin to feel like children waiting for Mom and Dad to be in a good mood before approaching them with something important.

Have you ever been upset and not really known why? Someone asks, "What's wrong?" and you say, "I don't know." And you really don't. You're not in control. When you ask yourself the three questions listed previously, you're getting yourself under control so you can talk to supervisees as an adult and not as an irate parent trying to punish a child for doing something wrong. Act ... don't react!

5. Acceptance of difficult tasks
There's one more outcome you can expect if you have effectively assumed the role of coach. Your team members will accept increasingly difficult tasks. This is a natural result of team members having a clearer understanding of your expectations - as well as the confidence to work more independently. And it's important for you, as a coach, to encourage that growth. Challenge your supervisees. Let them know that you have confidence in them. Let them know you think they are "unlimited resources." Let them know you think they can do and be whatever they choose - and they will!

Case Study
Nancy Evans joined the staff of a private Southern college as director of food services just three weeks after the former director had died suddenly in an automobile accident. When the associate director learned he would not be offered the vacated post, he resigned immediately. So Nancy took over a 37-person team with only four days to review records, accounts, menus and personnel files as well as inspect the campus food-service complex.

Her first act as director was to call a Saturday morning meeting (well before any of the food facilities were expected to be active) of the entire food-service staff to do five things:
1. Introduce herself
2. Assure everyone that someone was at the helm
3. Deal with rumors surrounding the associate director's resignation
4. Discuss her immediate goals
5. Answer any questions team members might have

After she covered her first three points, Nancy passed out a list of her short-term goals. She also placed them on an overhead projector while she spoke. Her goals were:
1. To meet with every employee in the next two weeks to discuss:
a. The strengths and weaknesses of the school's food-service program from each employee's point of view
b. The special concerns and dreams of each employee
c. Ideas for growth - the employee's as well as the program's
2. To thoroughly familiarize herself with working environments in all five food-service outlets: the Student Union Cafeteria, the alum and faculty "Regency Restaurant" (also located in The Union), The Snack Shop and the two dormitory cafeterias - and to hold team meetings with the complete staffs of each.
3. To establish an Administrative Committee to function in the vacated role of associate director. The committee would be composed of the five current staff supervisors, plus three team-elected members. The duties of the committee were to be defined in upcoming brainstorming sessions.

The time Nancy had anticipated for the question session proved too short. Many members had questions. It was apparent that loyalties to the associate who resigned existed - as well as much anger at the president over treatment and salary issues.

Nancy noted each remark or complaint on overheads for all to see. By the time the session was over, she had 11 note-packed overhead transparencies! Nancy concluded the meeting by promising to transcribe each remark, to study each and to report her conclusions to everyone within one month.

The days ahead were busy ones for Nancy. She asked for and was given an office in the Student Union building instead of the office of the past director. She met daily with the five supervisors to discuss operations and to brainstorm methods to improve service and profitability. She met daily with at least two members of the food-service team, with one during breakfast and the other over lunch, getting to know more about each, and generally covering the three areas she had outlined for them in her introductory meeting.

One month later, Nancy called another early morning team meeting. She opened that meeting by welcoming the "Food Brood." At that point, she turned the meeting over to the Food Service Administrative Committee, who passed out folders titled, "Where We Are & Where We're Going Together!" covering:
1. The new Committee-created Mission Statement
2. Ten new employee policies and benefits based on employee remarks in the introductory meeting
3. A new "profit sharing" bonus plan tied to each facility team's ability to create and implement new cost-saving, revenue-generating measures

Included in each folder was an "Impressions and Evaluations" form employees were encouraged to complete and return to their team leaders in one week.

Then the meeting was opened for questions. Committee members answered the surprisingly few questions that were asked. When it was apparent that there were no more questions, Nancy stood to conclude the meeting. She began by requesting a round of applause for members of the Administrative Committee. It was their efforts, she assured the group, that made the many positive new steps a reality. Then she expressed her gratitude to the president, who had reviewed the entire plan just presented and had approved it wholeheartedly. She then thanked the entire group for the fun of working alongside them, for allowing her to get to know them and for the loyalty and commitment she saw in each person. She concluded by telling the group that in only a short time every member had made her feel like "family."

Case Study Analysis
Nancy Evans demonstrated real coaching strengths in the scenario you just read. You get the feeling that her food-service team is going to benefit greatly from her leadership, don't you? Now let's focus on a few specifics that may give you deeper insights into the scenario - and into your own team/coach relationship.
1. What did the associate director's resignation tell you about the leadership style prior to Nancy's arrival? What message might the resignation have sent to the 37-member staff?
2. In her two total-team meetings, do you think Nancy communicated clearly? How?
3. Did she provide opportunities to verify employee understanding? How?
4. Was Nancy's choice of offices significant to you? Good or bad? Why?
5. Was Nancy's decision to have an Administrative Committee rather than an associate director a wise one? Why?
6. What other "involvement" steps did Nancy take in her coaching role?
7. Would the food-service team be motivated and inspired by the plans the Committee unveiled? Why or why not?
8. Do you think Nancy did anything to help eliminate resentment toward the president expressed in the first team meeting? Explain.
9. Do you think her concluding remarks about "family" were appropriate? Explain.

You may be thinking, "If only this coaching business was as easy to do as it is to write about." Agreed! But the encouraging fact is that real-life situations ... much more chaotic and potentially disastrous than Nancy's case study ... have been and are being handled capably by StaffCoachingTM principles. This is not pie-in-the-sky thinking - it can mean cake-in-the-plate results.
- Hendricks, William (ed.), Coaching, Mentoring and Managing, National Press Publications: New Jersey, 1996

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Personal Reflection Exercise #4
The preceding section contained information about what to expect when you are coaching supervisees the right way. Write three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section in your practice.

QUESTION 11
What are 5 results you can expect when you are supervising effectively? Record the letter of the correct answer the Answer Booklet

 
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