Ways to get ten times the value from your supervision sessions

1- Create the ‘supervision experience”: Think carefully about what you want to cover before the session begins. Most supervision sessions are brief, maybe only 15-20 minutes for you as a coach, and supervision costs our business, so make every minute count. Ask yourself the question; “If I could cover just one thing today and have it be worth the entire cost of my time and my supervisor’s time, what would it be?”

2- Start with a full plate: Working off the question above, make a list, not of one thing, but of 2 – 3 things that would be that valuable. Have more on your plate than you think you can possibly go over, you just might be surprised! Of course, you don’t want to rush past something important. Supervision sessions are not the place to save the best for last. Put the most important item at the top of your list. That way, even if that’s the only item that gets handled, it will have been worthwhile. Some matters take time; in a group supervision session you may only cover 1 item, just make sure it is the important one.

3- Make clear requests: Once you have your list and the priority, write down what requests for supervision you have in one or two short, clear statements. For example, let’s say your number one topic is, “How to help my client get clear about their outcome?” Ask yourself, “How do I want my supervisor to support me in this?” Do you want to brainstorm some new ideas, develop the ideas you already have by talking them through, get some resource information from your supervisor etc?

4- Prepare your state of mind: Take a few extra minutes before the session to mentally prepare yourself, rather than ‘jamming’ the session into an already full day, or going into the session with your head full of other stuff.

5- Cut the chat: Keep the “chit-chat” to a minimum. I enjoy chatting with my own supervisor, but not if it takes up half the session. In a group supervision session, your chat may cost someone else their supervision opportunity. Chat with friends over lunch. Get down to business with your supervisor.

6- Be 100% responsible: Take full responsibility for the supervision. Don’t expect your supervisor to do your work for you or to ‘do supervision’ on you. Don’t be a passive member of the group either, you may get as much out of someone else’s issue as exploring your own. A healthy approach to supervision is to consider yourself 100% responsible for how the relationship goes and what value you get out of each session.

7- Bring you, not just your client: Remember supervision is about you growing as a coach. Concentrate on you and how you are in your coaching relationships. Bring just enough of your client’s story to facilitate the supervision – this is not story time

8- Train your supervisor: Give regular feedback to your supervisor, so he or she knows what works or what is most valuable to you so they can do more of it. Also, let your supervisor know what’s not working or has less value so it can be eliminated. At first you might not know what’s of most value but it won’t take long before you realise that some sessions are very powerful and others are so-so. Evaluate what was different about the two, and train your supervisor.

9- Debrief yourself: Take a moment after the session to make a note about discoveries, insights or themes that were explored during the session. Write down action items if you did not write them down during the session. I evaluate what I got out of the time with my supervisor, and notice what I didn’t cover that I want to address next time.

10- Supervision is ongoing: In my experience much of the best supervision happens in between sessions when the coach reflects on the learning, discovery or agreed action – maybe after their next coaching session with their client? Take the time to reflect, to process your learning and if you have committed to take some action with your client(s) or to develop yourself, think about how and when you will do that … and make time.

Steve Ridgley 2010 – www.illuminateddandelion.co.uk

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