Updated: Apr 28, 2020

Hardly a day goes by without an email arriving in my inbox related to coaching and mentoring. From a staff development perspective it seems everywhere – and this is a good thing in my book. It’s great that a conversation can be had with a coach or mentor that helps someone to put matters into perspective, see a pathway through their situation, removes a weight from their shoulders and motivates.

But what about the coaches and mentors themselves? Even with feedback from the people you are coaching and mentoring, it can be hard to know if you’re doing the right thing or could be doing it better. Although there is much conjecture about supervision (see Moyes’ literature review, for example) it does provide scope to discuss the supervisor’s process and progress.

Greater insight is enabled through models such as the Seven-Eyed Model (Hawkins and Shohet) which asks coaches and mentors to look beyond matters such as the techniques used and consider factors such as the client and their issues, the coach/client relationship and the impact on the coach/mentor. You can see why Hawkins thinks supervision is important here. I am conscious that coaching and mentoring, beyond the client feeding back, can be difficult to evaluate as it is usually one of a number of things happening concurrently. Undoubtedly this will also be the case with supervision.

Having completed an ILM Level 7 qualification in Coaching Supervision (the picture below is a video still from the 30 hours of evidence needed!) I am now on the cusp of facilitating a version of this Programme at LJMU. My excitement is matched by many of the people whom I have worked with in a coaching and mentoring capacity. In coaching and mentoring circles supervision is talked about as being a good thing but in practice it is far less likely to be carried out. Not only might it be tricky to find a supervisor but it means time out of the office and probably at a financial cost.

What is coaching and mentoring used for? Undoubtedly it is about continuous improvement. Increasing confidence, self-belief, engagement in the workplace - supervision done well can provide ‘super-vision’. Can you put a price on that?

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