Super Supervisor

What is a supervisor?

A supervisor is a mentor, a leader, a coach, a problem solver, a cheerleader, a supporter and a person.  Playing all of these roles and more can be overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. 

Setting the Tone

Supervisors play a critical role in setting the tone and culture for the team.  The best way to do this is to model the tone and culture you want to establish.  Be confident in your abilities and your staff will become confident in their abilities.  Be honest with staff and staff will be honest with you and with each other.  Give constructive feedback and staff will give constructive feedback.  Pitch in when necessary and staff will pitch in when necessary.  Setting a positive culture for the team is critical to great team work and it begins with the Supervisor.

Supervisor Tools


- Help staff but, don’t enable staff.  Just as we work with our families to support and encourage behavior change, supervisors work with staff to guide them but, that doesn’t mean providing all of the answers.  Guide staff to discover their own answers by asking those open ended questions like, “What do you think the next steps should be?”


-Help staff use their strengths to their full potential and develop new skills.  Utilize staff strengths for the good of the whole team.  If someone is particularly good at time management, let them share their expertise with the team and everyone benefits.  If staff are going to develop new skills they will also need to be allowed to make mistakes.  Creating an atmosphere where mistakes are used a learning opportunities will encourage a culture of growth and innovation instead of fear.


-Be there for your staff.  Support the work they do and back them up.  Represent staff when interacting with other levels of management.  Pitch in when the need arises.  Don’t ask staff to do anything you would not do yourself.


-Give staff the benefit of your knowledge.  Look for those teachable moments when you can share your experience and talent with staff.

-Learn  Let staff see that you do not know everything.  Welcome ideas and assistance from your staff.  Accepting help from staff will encourage them to help each other.


-We learn much more from listening to others than listening to ourselves.  Take the time to listen to what staff members are saying.  When meeting with staff, do whatever is necessary to focus on them (turn off e-mail, turn off the phone etc.)

Effective supervisors are the key to staff retention.  Staff members who feel empowered, respected, valued and supported are more likely to stay even in the most challenging positions…like child welfare!