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Seven reasons Group Supervision could be a 'team Sport'?!

Posted By Michelle Lucas Ms, Greenfields Consulting Ltd, 25 June 2018

Do you have regular supervision arrangements, or do you tend to operate on an “as needed” basis? I’ve noticed that some coaches say that they don’t always have something pressing to bring to supervision. My sense is that perhaps they see supervision as something they do “when they get stuck”. However, in reality I think supervision – especially Group Supervision can be much more useful than just getting “unstuck”! Here are 7 reasons why I see reflecting on your work (the good bits as well as the tricky bits) in group supervision, as a team activity

  1. Connecting as a community: Coaching can be a lonely profession. Regularly meeting with a group of fellow coaches provides reassurance when you discover that your personal coaching challenges are shared by others.
  2. Keeping your coaching muscle “toned”: When your coaching activity reduces it is easy to lose confidence about your work and to lose a sense of connection with coaching more generally. Hearing about other’s work may re-invigorate your energy for coaching, and prompt you to seek out more opportunities for coaching yourself.
  3. Jogging your memory: Listening and contributing to other people’s “cases” often gets you thinking more deeply about your own work. Whilst you might arrive at the group feeling as though “I’ve got nothing to bring” it’s common for something you’d almost forgotten about to be prompted by the group and to have a rich and lively discussion about it.
  4. Creating collective intelligence: Coaching is complex! Rarely is there one definitive “right” question or interpretation or approach. Nowhere is this clearer than in group supervision. You can almost guarantee that everyone will see something different in the client case presented, and everyone will have their own sense of what they would “do”. Clearly each coach will want to develop their own authentic response – however, together we can generate a diversity of ideas that individually would have escaped us.
  5. Deepening your repertoire by osmosis: For the most part supervision groups will include coaches from a variety of contexts and experience. Some of the situations that your peers will bring for exploration you may not have come across before. This can be fantastic preparation for your own practice. No two situations are ever the same, but by participating in the supervision discussion, you will be better prepared when something similar does occur.
  6. Keeping humble: As we deepen our experience as coaches we become increasingly comfortable about how we work with a range of clients and topics. However, it’s entirely possible to get “a bit too comfortable” and to use our go-to responses when faced with what appears to be a familiar situation. When listening to other people’s work or sharing our own, it’s fascinating what our peers see that we don’t.
  7. Being a resource for others: When we participate in group supervision we will naturally be thinking about the personal benefit. However, even if there is nothing that we want for ourselves we have the chance to take a more altruistic stance. When group members bring a topic to the group they are depending on us, as colleagues to help them think things through, to share experiences and to “be there” to provide affirmation, challenge or support. It’s this combination of personal benefit and benevolence to others that gives the sense of “team” to a group.

So that’s why I think group supervision is a “team sport”. It may well be that you feel you have nothing to bring. However if the group works as a team then whether or not you feel you have something “pressing” is not really the point! The point is that you are there for your colleagues, to help them think, to share your experiences in service of them resolving their challenges and to continue to deepen your connection with the group and the coaching community at large.

I’m not entirely sure what kind of team sport group supervision would be – maybe cricket when 9 of 11 people in a team are not on the field of play? What kind of sports team would be a good metaphor for your group supervision experiences? And importantly, what kind of supervision team player do you want to be?

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