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Reading and reflecting on articles

Your CPD should be personal to you and your practice. These examples should not be viewed as best practice.

Reading and reflecting on articles

Example of CPD recorded by a registered social worker

Title of CPD

Reflection on articles about more compassionate supervision and the role of kindness in good leadership

Date CPD completed

13/11/2020

What was your role in this example?

My role was to take time to reflect on articles about more compassionate supervision and about the role of kindness in good leadership. I reflected on how I could apply this to my practice development, to further support the Social Workers and Senior Practitioners and Health Professionals, who I offer supervision to and who I support as a Team Manager.

What did you do?

I read an article from Professional Social Work magazine, titled A Time For Supervision That Is Compassionate. This was from the November issue and written by Shabnam Ahmed, Adult Services Team Manager. I also read an article called Good Leadership Is An Act Of Kindness. This was written by Boris Groysborg and Susan Seligson, Harvard Business School. Both articles focus on leadership, supervision and support to staff due to the intensely challenging period that we are continuing to experience, the Corona Virus pandemic.

Thinking about this example, what would you do differently and how did this learning activity impact on your practice?

The first article I read explored the benefits of developing a more compassionate supervision style, inspired by the COVID 19 period. During this period the challenges professionals, service users and carers have been experiencing have been many, varied and intense. Shabnam asks us to reflect on what, we as managers who supervise staff, can do? Do we need to consider supporting people in a different way?

As Shabnam points out, being compassionate in professional supervision arrangements is already an integral part of supervision in the human services professions. However, her argument continues that during this pandemic period, it needs to be enhanced.

She suggests practical changes, such as offering more frequent supervision to those who need it. Shabnam emphasises the importance of creating space and time for feelings to be named, allowing emotions safely back into social work practice. Shabnam highlights the use of the tool - Wheel of Emotions - which was first developed by Robert Plutchick.

On reflection about the development of my own practice, I have seen versions of this tool, but my next step is to try it out in practice by offering to use it with some of the professionals who I supervise. I already regularly offer people more frequent supervision, if it seems as if this would be helpful, but this is a good reminder.

I realize that it is important for me to take a step back in the busy current environment to think individually about each person whom I supervise and try to meet them where they are. What is perceived as supportive to them and to their work will be very different for different people. This causes me to reflect again on reasonable adjustments and trying to offer these and supervision in general, to different people in a way that is most helpful for them.

The other aspect mentioned in the article is to more regularly ask for feedback about ways I could develop further or help to improve their supervision experience. This is something I have done, but I can now see the benefit of trying to do this more regularly. This is likely to communicate to the person I am supervising that I am willing to be flexible and adjust support to what will be most helpful to them.

In the second article Susan and Boris suggest that in times, such as the current pandemic, a time of great uncertainty and unprecedented employee stress, a manager's toolkit must expand in ways we haven't seen before. It talks about developing a leadership strategy around the idea of being kind.

They emphasise the importance of offering people a little reassurance, the benefits of compassionate listening and of making a conscious effort to acknowledge people's fear and confusion. I like to think that these are skills of emotional intelligence that I have developed over time and use regularly, to offer support to staff I supervise and manage. However, as Susan and Boris highlight, in the business world kindness often gets lost when managers are in perpetual crisis management mode.

On reflection of my own practice within Adult Social Care, I see that this is also a challenge for me and the way I manage. The Corona Virus Pandemic period has brought many challenges, including the need for quick changes in the ways services are run, while also prioritising being responsive to the clients and carers we provide the service for. On reflection, I see the importance of stepping back and reviewing what other strategies I can put in place, to ensure that I take the time to be open to offering this support to staff I manage as individuals.

Susan and Boris highlight further observations that are important for me to think more about. Kindness is teachable and practicing it will help people to be better at it. On reflection and in my experience, I can see that if the leaders of a team or group set up and demonstrate an approach based on respect and kindness, this is likely to be the approach that most people within the group also take, to varying degrees.

They also make the link between being kind and this having a positive effect on employee's mental health and this translating to improved morale and performance. On thinking about this further, I realise that this is my experience of trying to adopt a positive and kind approach and the effects can at times, be quite powerful.

I already have an understanding of the importance of compassion and kindness in the process of managing and supervising social workers and health professionals. However, these articles have encouraged me to think about how I can build on this, to develop a more robust and consistent approach.

My next step will be to use these reflections to work to strengthen my focus on this and to continue to try to weave this through my approach as a manager and as a supervisor. I will ask more regularly for feedback from staff I supervise, about how I can work with them to improve their experience. I will think about how I can offer to use the tool of the wheel of emotions in supervision sessions. I will discuss my thoughts and reflections on this in my own supervision with my manager. This will provide me with an opportunity to have another person's view and reflect further on how to develop my practice in this area. I will link this to theories and frameworks, by refreshing my training on reflective supervision, by reading over articles and notes. I will continue to keep in mind the idea communicated by David Thoreau, that kindness is an investment that never fails.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed are those of the social worker. We have not edited the content in this CPD record. It should not be viewed as best practice. Instead, it illustrates one of the activities which you could record as CPD to help you learn, improve and reflect on your practice. 

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