Supervision skills
A learning and development manual
By Neil Thompson and Peter Gilbert

To see sections of this book in a PDF, please click here.

Getting the best out of staff owes so much to the skill and commitment of the supervisor. An effective supervisor is able to create win-win situations where everybody is happy: the employee fulfils their potential; the employers get the best return on their investment; and people who use the organisation's services benefit from the quality of the staff member's practice.

This important manual in the Learning for Practice series shows that supervision is a complex matter, which is sadly often oversimplified. The deeper and broader our understanding of it, the stronger a position we are in to help establish the highest quality of supervision we can, where managers are able to use their knowledge and skills to help get the best out of people on an individual basis.

It shows that supervision is not simply a matter of making sure the supervisee is doing their job properly. It also involves helping staff achieve the best quality of work that they are capable of by maximising learning, promoting high levels of well-being, and addressing any conflicts, tensions or other obstacles to optimal practice.

This clear and well-written set of resources provides:
  • background information about the role and significance of supervision
  • a set of learning exercises carefully designed to promote professional development
  • a sound foundation for helping supervisors develop the skills they need to do their job to the best of their ability.

  • If you are in the business of helping supervisors develop their knowledge, skills and confidence, this manual provides a foundation for:
  • running training courses
  • carrying out staff development activities
  • planning teaching sessions as part of a college or university programme of teaching.

  • It can also be used for self-learning. Indeed, it is vital to remember - and a core principle of this book - that being responsible for supporting the learning and development of others does not take away the responsibility for our own learning.

    Customers who subsequently register their purchase with RHP may obtain, at no extra cost, the worksheets and presentation slides from the manual in PDF and PowerPoint format.

    A4 wiro. 112 pages. 978-1-905541-62-1. Published 2011. £29.95.


    Actual and aspiring supervisors and leaders across the private, public and voluntary sectors, plus those involved in training and supporting them, including:
  • trainers and staff in personnel and human resources
  • managers at all levels, including those who are councillors, trustees or directors
  • lecturers and tutors in colleges and universities; and their libraries.


    Who is this manual for?
    Series editor's foreword
    About the Learning for Practice series
    About this manual
    How to use this manual
    Photocopying permission for the use of the worksheets and presentation slides
    Electronic supply of the worksheets and presentation slides
    Setting the Context
    What is human resource development?
    Lifelong learning
    Investing in people
    Making supervision work
    What about the supervisor's development?
    The exercises
    A note on timing
    Experience of supervision
    Preparing for supervision
    Worksheet: Preparing for supervision
    Beginnings and endings
    Worksheet: Beginnings and endings
    Giving feedback
    Worksheet: Giving feedback
    Helping people learn
    Hopes and fears
    Worksheet: Hopes and fears, part 1
    Worksheet: Hopes and fears, part 2
    Giving support
    Problems in supervision
    Destructive processes in supervision
    Worksheet: Destructive processes in supervision
    Worksheet: Quotes
    The balance of support and challenge
    Good management vs. bullying
    The four elements of supervision
    Recording supervision
    Handout: Recording supervision
    Handout: Recording supervision (presenter's version)
    Worksheet: Recording supervision
    Managing poor performance
    Worksheet: Managing poor performance
    Promoting anti-discriminatory practice
    Worksheet: Promoting anti-discriminatory practice
    Developing reflective practice
    Worksheet: Developing reflective practice
    Avoiding the drama triangle
    Handout: Avoiding the drama triangle
    Worksheet: Avoiding the drama triangle
    Recommended reading
    Organisations and websites
    Appendix: Presentation slides and guide for new supervisors
    Presentation Slides
    Guide for new supervisors
    Electronic supply of the worksheets and presentation slides


    Neil Thompson
    is Director of Avenue Consulting Ltd (, a company offering training and consultancy across the 'people professions' - that is, the helping professions plus management, supervision and leadership more broadly. He has over 150 publications to his name, including best-selling textbooks, papers in learned journals and training and open learning materials. His website is

    Peter Gilbert is an independent consultant in social and health care, Emeritus Professor of Social Work and Spirituality at Staffordshire University, and visiting Professor with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust and the University of Worcester. He worked for 27 years in local government social services, as a practitioner/manager and senior manager, including being Director of Social Services in Worcestershire from 1997 to 2001. He is the author of Leadership: Being Effective and Remaining Human (RHP, 2005) and, with colleagues, Social Work and Mental Health: the Value of Everything (RHP, 2010), and co-editor of Spirituality, Values and Mental Health (Jessica Kinglsey, 2007). He recently co-authored a national position paper for SCIE on leadership and personalisation.

    Be tutored online by Neil Thompson as a member of his online learning community for only 10 a month! Click here for details.