SUPERVISION AND MANAGING STAFF
Rationale for Policy on Supervision
and Managing Staff
Supervision can be
viewed as a process of managing functions intended to promote the achievement
of institutional goals and to enhance the personal and professional capabilities
of staff. Supervision interprets the institutional mission and focuses human
and fiscal resources on the promotion of individual and organizational competence.
to the accomplishment of the institution and unit's goals and to the personal
and professional welfare of the staff. An effective supervisor provides by assistance
to staff members in meeting their personal and professional goals within the
context of the division and the institution. Supervision policy should, then,
be directed toward the following objectives:
- Model practice
focused on student learning and education of the whole person.
- Accomplish the
unit and institution's goals and mission.
- Fulfill the institutional
functions assigned to the unit.
- Coordinate the
recruitment and selection process of new staff members.
- Coordinate the
orientation and training of new hired staff members.
- Consider the personal
and professional welfare of the staff members.
- Establish good
communication between members of the unit and division.
- Conduct and coordinate
the performance appraisal of staff members.
- Address needs
of departing and remaining staff members when employee separation occurs.
All staff members
are entitled to quality supervision. Supervision is ongoing and includes two-way
communication to achieve the dual purposes of institutional and staff member
development. Supervision will focus on competence with the supervisor responsible
for leadership toward the accomplishment of meeting institutional and staff
needs. Staff members should be given clear guidance regarding expectations about
their role in the unit.
The Staffing Model In Supervision
staffing model operates on the principle of all components of the model
being interrelated and strongly influenced by supervision. Therefore, it is
important to mention the five other dimensions of the model: , orientation,
staff development, performance appraisal, and separation. Supervision, as the
linchpin of the model, permeates each of these dimensions. Consequently, supervision
principles as discussed here should not be considered in isolation, rather,
should be applied to each dimension of the model.
Supervision - Supervision is not always easy. A supervisor is often called
upon to make decisions based upon the knowledge and skills which have been
acquired through the years of professional involvement. A supervisor must
serve many functions. Among these are:
and achieving the unit's missions and needs
- Monitoring and
managing the climate of the unit
- Fostering individual
- Developing teamwork
capabilities and group resources
- Promoting active
to Supervision - The
process of supervision can take on one or a combination of styles, and one
particular style may not be appropriate for every supervisory situation. It
is important that a supervisor is aware of his or her predominate approach
to supervision so that the style may be adapted as the situation or the staff
member requires. Winston and Creamer (1994) provide an instrument
to identify supervisory approaches (click here for an example) . The four approaches included in the
- Authoritarian - based on the belief that staff members require constant attention
- Laissez Faire
- based on the desire to allow staff members freedom in accomplishing job
- based on a friendship-like relationship
- a cooperative effort between the supervisor and the staff member
has been described as having the greatest utility for working with student
affairs professionals. Its cooperative nature allows joint effects to exceed
the combination of individual efforts. Important characteristics of synergistic
Focus - Staff members need to feel that they have a significant influence on selecting
and defining the goals of the unit and in devising strategies to accomplish
them. If staff members perceive goals as being imposed on them, they may
not make a personal investment in trying to achieve the goals of the unit.
For example, it is a given that a successful Residence Life operation has
a process for assigning rooms and roommates to new students. However, the
individual staff members can play a large part in defining how that process
will most effectively work.
Effort - Supervision is not something done to staff but rather a cooperative activity
in which each party has an important contribution to make. Plans for accomplishing
tasks such as determining unit priorities, scheduling and distributing work,
and coordinating the efforts of the division are worked out jointly between
the supervisor and the staff member.
Communication - In
the synergistic model of staffing practices, supervision is dependent upon
a high level of trust between staff members and supervisors. Staff members
must be willing to allow supervisors to learn personal information about
them. Staff members must also feel free to give their supervisors honest,
direct feedback. Communication is key in developing this trust.
Focus on Competence - Supervision should concentrate on four areas of staff competence:
and information - Staff members must understand how to effectively
perform the duties of their job. This includes, but is not limited to
understanding college student development theory, current laws and other
legal parameters of practice, standards of professional practices, ethical
standards, and institutional rules and policies.
skills - Supervisors must ensure that staff members stay current on
developing trends within the field of student development and that they
are trained in a wide range of skills related to their job description,
such as interpersonal communication, goal setting, and computer skills.
For student affairs professionals to remain effective, these skills have
to be refreshed regularly. This is especially true for skills that are
not used on a regular basis. Supervisors must also provide the means for
staff members to develop and acquire new skills.
skills - The synergistic style emphasizes a holistic approach to supervision.
Just as attention must be paid to development of a staff member's work-related
skills, so too must personal skills be developed. To function successfully
as a professional, individuals must acquire skills in areas such as time
management, anger control, diet and exercise, and retirement planning.
Attitudes - Supervisors must maintain a positive attitude among their staff members.
Positive attitudes can motivate individuals to apply knowledge or skills
to strive toward personal, unit, and division goals.
professionals are involved in a people business. Therefore, their attitude
toward people, especially students, must be appropriate. Whether a staff
member approaches tasks with an attitude of enthusiasm or sarcasm often
determines that staff member's success.
Orientation - An important
responsibility of supervision is career development of staff. Supervisors
should provide assistance to staff as they pursue work that is meaningful
and personally satisfying. This manual suggests using Schein's
Model of Career Anchors (Table 1) to help clarify a person's occupational self-concept.
If a supervisor can understand a staff member's career anchors, it may be
much easier to help that person climb the career ladder and find work assignments
that are congruent with their interests and abilities.
Table 1 - Model of Career Anchors
Adapted from Winston, R. B., Jr. &
Creamer, D. G. (1997). Improving staffing practices in student affairs (pp. 201-203). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. This material is used by permission
of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
and Functional Competence
of people who have this anchor is tied to their feelings of competence
in the particular areas they are in, and consequently they are not interested
in management, though they will accept management responsibilities within
their technical or functional area of competence.
of people in this group involves management per se as the ultimate goal.
Specific technical functional jobs are seen only as necessary interim
stages on the way to
the higher, general administrative levels.
in security tend to do what is required of them by their employers to
maintain job security, a decent income, and a stable future in the form
of a good retirement
program, benefits, and the like.
seem to have an overarching need to build or create something that is
entirely their own product. Self-extension through the creation of a product
or process is
the key to these people's career anchor; however, they lose interest once
are up and running successfully.
tend to see their title, uniform, and other trapping of office as a fundamental
basis for their self-definition.
are in occupations such as counseling, social work etc. The interpersonal
competence and helping are ends in themselves rather than means to an
It is important
that supervisors have a clear understanding of adult development theory
to best relate to and help develop staff members at different life stages. The entry
level individual has needs, personal and professional, that are far different
than the individual that has been in the field for several years. Two individuals
such as these should never be supervised in the same manner.
and Creamer (1997), using the work of Schein
(1978), developed a "life
cycle tasks" table (Table 2) in which they applied general life issues and
tasks to work in student affairs. This table provides an excellent guide
to supervisors, especially those who supervise individuals at varying stages
of life development. Marsh (2001) advocates
using adult development theory as a framework to understand staff's personal
and professional needs. Her work overlaps with and extends Winston and Creamer's
(1997) developmental foundations of synergistic supervision.
Table 2 - Life Cycle Tasks
Winston, R. B., Jr. & Creamer, D.
G. (1997). Improving staffing practices in student affairs (pp. 204-207).
San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. This material is used by permission of John
Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Tasks To Be Faced
or Professional Tasks
provisional commitments to a range of adult roles
a sense of self, thereby achieving a capacity for intimacy with spouse
or partner and close circle of friends
more discriminating in one's relationships
"home" separate from family of origin
Seek a spouse
Learn to get
along with (perhaps live with) significant other, spouse, or partner
sense of integrity by humanizing values, showing social responsibility
and congruence between values and behavior
Start to have
children (for some)
(make) choices about whether to pursue career or family, or career and
position in student affairs
of knowledge and skills acquired in graduate school (read and watch others
to learn about student affairs work if no professional preparation)
role and learn how to get along with peers and supervisor
and realistic level of aggressiveness within the norms of the institutional
of professional confidence
feelings of success or failure in first job
Find a sponsor
(maybe a mentor)
to enter student affairs profession in terms of talents, values, and career
opportunities and constraint
of colleagues outside the employing institution
conferences and present show-and-tell programs
make decision about doctoral study
from entry-level position
own person - widening, deepening, and stabilizing one's commitments
terms with the fact that time is limited and finite
of one's illusions or unrealistic expectations
about completion of the family
terms with aging by recognizing first signs of bodily decline
to recognize one's own mortality
Put down roots
Come to terms
with one's marriage or other relationship (substituting a realistic assessment
for the idealized vision of one's 20's)
between family and career
Begin to evaluate
the efficacy of one's dream
to make sacrifices in order to "make it" in a career of to settle
to become a specialist in a functional area or to pursue a general administrative
position in student affairs (such as VP)
a clear identity within the profession and within an institutional category
(such as community college; research university; private liberal arts
career plans in terms of ambitions, types of progress sought, targets
against which to measure progress
aware of career anchors
reassessment of one's dream
family relationships (children leaving home; reestablish relationship
with spouse or partner or divorce)
a more stable integration and life structure of prior role models or conformity
oneself to the world after a period of being closed
of autonomy and voluntary commitment - a sense that one is making one's
of one's own life
empty nest syndrome - helping spouse adjust to loss of parental role and
transition to some other role
independence or death of one's parents
niche in professional association(s) in which one can make contributions
about seeking senior administrative positions (such as VP)
student affairs career, move into academic administration, or leave the
Become a mentor
fear of loss of competence and competition from younger people "on
the way up"
concern about "running out of time"
warming up, and valuing spouse or partner, children and friends
one's life work and contributions to the world
with broader issues of society and community, loss of specialization and
growth of wisdom
retirement and different lifestyle
to declining health and strength
one stays in contact with one's friends, because of loss of interest in
making new contacts and friendships
adult relationships with one's children
Learn to be
plans for retirement, including different living arrangements and reduced
Find new sources
of satisfaction in hobbies, family, social and community activities, and
to handle high-level political situations both inside and outside the
to handle higher levels of responsibility and power without becoming paralyzed
or emotionally upset
Proactivity - Synergistic supervision focuses on identifying potential problems early
rather than reacting to problems that have been building over time. In this
style supervision emphasizes early identification and development of strategies
by the supervisor and staff member jointly to prevent or lessen their effects.
Asking for assistance
or advice from a supervisor is not a sign of weakness. For staff members
to present problems to a supervisor does not mean that the problems are
being transferred to the supervisor for a solution. Nor does it imply that
the supervisor will or should encroach on the staff member's autonomy to
attack the problem.
should create sessions that permit staff to bring issues and problems they
are facing to the table. However, supervisors must provide feedback, or
offer advice on problems that staff members may not be able to handle independently.
Based - Synergistic
supervision requires the supervisor and staff member to have clear expectations
of one another. Goals and expectations should be developed between them
and a commitment made to review and adjust those goals on a regular basis.
It is recommended that supervisors meet with their individual staff members
on a biannual basis to set and evaluate goals and on a bimonthly basis to
monitor progress of those goals.
and Ongoing Process - Supervisory
sessions should be held on a regular, proactive basis and not as a response
to crises or inadequate job performance. The newer and less experienced
the staff member, the more frequent the sessions should be held. Both good
and poor performance should be addressed. Topics
to be addressed at the meetings range from work attitudes of the employee
to values of the profession of student affairs.
Holism - People and their attitudes and beliefs cannot be separated from their
professional positions. Synergistic supervision concentrates on helping
staff develop both in their professional and personal lives and offers support
as they prepare to advance in their career.
Arminio and Creamer
(2001) conducted a study of "superior" supervisors in an attempt to
identify what made them "excellent" in the eyes of those they had
supervised. The found that the following behaviors were closely associated with
- Aligning staff
in the same overall direction through staff development and team work, then
reinforcing through high expectations;
- Leading by example;
- Being clear about
values, ethics, and principles of fairness;
- Interpreting and
building the culture of the institution; and
- Having a vision
of where the institution is going (Arminio
& Creamer, 2001, p. 39)
Participants in Arminio
and Creamer's study were asked to identify the processes associated with excellent
supervision. These processes included:
- Hold regular meetings
with individuals and groups;
- Involve staff
members in planning;
- Utilize a great
deal of face-to-face contact;
- Communicate consistently,
thoroughly and often; and
- Introduce challenge
to staff members in timely portions (that is, not all at once). (2001, p. 40)
for Improving Supervision
members need and will profit from tailored supervisory treatment. The level
of supervision will depend on the length of time and experience in the field
and the personality and developmental level of the employee. However, all staff
members, no matter their circumstances, deserve regular, competent supervision.
Experienced, Competent Professionals - These staff members generally do not need assistance in determining what tasks
need to be performed, instruction about commonly accepted practices, or explanation
about administrative structure. The types of supervision that experienced,
competent professional require include:
- Frank appraisals
of the contributions of their units
- A sounding board
for strategies for dealing with difficult issues or personnel
- Candid feedback
about how they and their units are perceived within the institution
- Care and involvement
in the establishment and evaluation of personal performance objectives
- Someone to keep
difficult issues on the table
- Advanced warnings
about impending changes
- An understanding
ear for personal issues
- Honest assessment
and suggestions for improvement
- Praise and encouragement
for a job well done
Ineffective Middle Managers - Supervision
of the unenthusiastic, unchallenged employee is much more difficult. When
the staff member is not motivated to improve, the supervisor may use tactics
- Discuss with
the employee perceived behavior and attitudinal deficiencies.
- Identify, with
the staff member, ideas for improvement.
- Agree upon a
plan to ensure changes in the staff member's performance.
- Monitor the
- Offer short-term
job rotation options to the employee.
- Assign the employee
a challenging short term project.
- Make sure that
the institutional performance appraisal system does not reward behavior
or attitudes that are nonproductive.
To improve supervision
in student affairs, Winston and Creamer (1997) recommend that supervision be
dealt with in an open and explicit manner and be systematic and ongoing. A collection
of supervision ideas (Table 3) is available in a table which includes recommendations
for supervisory behaviors to use and to avoid.
Table 3 - Supervision Ideas
discuss the goals and process of supervision with each staff member
supervision as a routine administrative task
advancement of staff member's personal and professional goals in the supervisory
supervisory structure without genuine input from supervisor
concern and interest in staff member's personal concerns
to become a staff member's therapist
at establishing friendly relationships with staff
romantic or "special" caring to develop with persons supervised
staff members equitably
or appear to show favor to some staff members
problems and issues when first realized
the value of the person with his or her behaviors
the decisions of superiors with subordinate staff and students
disagreement from supervisor during decision making process
admit when wrong or mistaken
(correct) staff members publicly
with staff members face to face
a staff member's problem behavior with another subordinate or coequal staff
to consult with supervisors or other professionals
direct, open, and honest
to send indirect message or message thorough a third party to a staff member
about his or her conduct
records of supervisory contacts
on memory for details of supervisory sessions
specific performance objectives or program outcomes periodically (at least
to follow up on accomplishment of objectives periodically
and reward achievement
that a "good job" is the norm and does not require acknowledgment
realistic assignments based on a knowledge of the staff member's experience
and skill level, personal maturity, and current life situation
that everyone on a staff or in an office should do the same thing at the
explicit connection between supervision and staff development activities
that staff members can always identify the areas in which they need to develop
skills or acquire knowledge
and learn from staff supervised
final knowledge about supervision or about a supervisory relationship
Issues in Supervision
section provides general information regarding supervision and management of
minorities as staff members. For
the purpose of this document, ethnicity will be considered part of the overall
diversity section. Because
there were some areas where research was more readily available (Religion, Gender,
and LGBT), specific information and tips for these populations will follow. This document does not claim to be exhaustive but is an overview of things
following tips can provide supervisors with ideas on how to address diversity
within supervisory functions:
staff members work on projects with other staff members who aredifferent.
model open and accepting behavior
- Pay attention to negative stereotypes and challenge them consistently.
advice, coaching and support for women and non-white employees when the
larger organization does not support a diverse work environment.
familiar with the communication styles of the culture groups represented
by those with which they work and supervise (Certo,
making generalizations and assumptions about a specific group of people.
- Be aware of the
assumptions we make. Knowing
our assumptions can prevent communication barriers caused by perceptions
and prejudices (Certo, 1994).
are commercially developed instruments available to be used to assess staff
needs. They can be used to
develop staff and meet various needs. The
Organizational Diversity Inventory (ODI) is an instrument with a battery
of statements dealing with various aspects of diversity in the workplace.
(Hegarty, W.H. & Dalton,
concept of diversity management is one to consider when creating and managing
a diverse workforce.
management is a process in which each workers unique contributions
are valued and used to achieve an organizations goals. It is a one shot program but an ongoing commitment to acknowledge explicitly
employees and the firms cultural roots
accepts and celebrates differences in race, gender and other qualities
(Karsten, 1994, p. 73).
appealing aspect and paradoxical nature of multi-cultural management is that
it is supervision with an acute awareness of the characteristics common to
a culture, race, gender, age, or sexual preference while recognizing, and
embracing the individual characteristics each employee possesses (Karsten,
management represents and capitalizes on differences. It also supports those individuals who are part of an organization
but may be the only one of their kind (Karsten,
process enhances creativity and innovation and provides new perspectives to
organizational problems while bringing a marketing edge to the office (Karsten,
development is important in creating a positive work environment.
can be considerations for discussing religious practices, customs, in general
to benefit all staff members.
may also be helpful for supervisors to have a listing of religious holidays.
A better understanding of religion in the workplace can make for positive
is also important to take religious holidays into account when planning
staff or division wide events.
Issues In Supervision
attentive to the health and safety of women who may be pregnant. Do not ask them to lift or carry items that may cause them to strain
and harm the baby (Certo,
conscious of same gender communication and opposite gender communication
patterns. These can be the
source of difficulties.
relationships need to be carefully examined. Understand the dynamics of same gender mentor relationships as well
as opposite sex mentor relationships (Karsten,
not stereotype new mothers as individuals not interested in career advancement,
or interested in their current positions (Karsten,
the case of working mothers, devise a plan for how the two of you will handle
a child being sick. It is advisable
that this be done as soon after their employment as possible (Karsten,
Issues in Supervision
following information is taken from Blank
& Slipp (1994):
supervising individuals who are not of the majority or represent different
groups, supervisors should consider the following in order to ensure the working
environment is conducive to creating a positive and healthy experience for
every employee as an individuallthough members of different groups may
be diverse in appearance, speech, values, beliefs, and behavior, they
have many commonalties therefore assumptions based on group identity should
not be made.
that the cultural tendencies such as language, mannerisms, and communication
patterns are not necessary indicators of a workers performance and capabilities. Within each group there is a range of people from those qualified
to those who are not. Supervisors
must understand cultural differences and not allow them to cloud their
judgment as it relates to competence and motivation.
and confront the issue of discomfort when dealing with a diverse workforce. Be a role model of acceptance by including all workers in social
situations, using inclusive language, structuring work teams for projects,
coaching all staff on the work norms of the organization, and making clear
that equal opportunity exists for everyone.
and utilize different perspectives and styles of diverse workers and view
them as assets.
support the competencies and contributions of workers from all groups
because many times it is only the members of the dominant culture who
the federal, state, and municipal legislation that ensures equal opportunity
in employment such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Civil Rights Act
of 1964; the Age Discrimination in employment Act of 1967, and The Family
Medical and leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) which grants employees in companies
with fifty or more workers the right to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid
leave for the birth of a child or the illness of a family member.
aware of subtle and systematic institutional discrimination that pigeonholes
and limits opportunity for members of groups other than those in the dominant
all discriminatory and stereotypic behavior.
comfortable asking questions about preferred terminology or interactions,
which could potentially have a negative impact on the employee.
responsibility not only for the behavior and attitudes of employees but
also for trying to influence change in the organization.
Reason, and Briodio (2001) examined the experiences of GLB students in residence
halls and the effects of having a GLB resident assistant. They bound GLB residents
expected RAs to "address issues facing LGB students on their floors. The
students believed that RAs should be open and accepting, personally supportive,
and work to create a welcoming environment" (p. 85). They also found that
LGB residents thought it essential that there be openly LBG RAs on the staff
who could serve as confidants and liks to other LBG students. Evans et al. also
concluded that issues of sexual orientation should be openly and thoroughly
discussed during RA training sessions and during supervision sessions throughout
the academic year.
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with the fundamentals of HR management.