What does decluttering have in common with Supervision? Here’s my take on it. Now is the time of year when the festive season is rushing up on us and it prompts us to reflect on key events of the year just gone and hopes for the new year ahead. For me it’s also been the time for decluttering my home office. That activity led me to think about reflective career practice.

Decision time

If you’ve undertaken study recently you’ll recognise the symptoms even if you’re committed to the paperless office concept: books piling up on the desk and shelves, stacks of printed articles that might come in handy, random notes scribbled in aha moments, and pens you didn’t throw out in case they might still work…and the list goes on. After six years of accumulation and my PhD completed, I felt ready to clear the space. The first stage of the mission is now accomplished-and with it a sense of major satisfaction!

What I noticed was that tidying, sorting (e.g., repurposing the back of old journal articles as notepaper) and throwing out and letting go unnecessary stuff left me feeling uplifted and ready to think about what’s ahead. I even had room to let some new things into the space.

Reflecting and reframing

And when I reflect on my office declutter, I see how Supervision is a form of decluttering that we undergo each time we supervise and are supervised; a process of orderly reflecting and reframing, and especially for the supervisee, clearing away unhelpful “stuff” to make way for the “new”. The big difference was that in my office declutter I didn’t have a trusted person giving me undivided attention and supporting me to make informed decisions as I agonised over the choice of “bin?” or “keep?” for the scraps of paper, dog-eared folders or near-empty pens taking up valuable space in my work environment. In addition, Supervision isn’t something you’d do just once every six years!

This year, as a newly formed for-profit social enterprise, The Career Development Company (The CDC) implemented Peer Supervision for us as a team and provision of Professional Supervision to facilitate learning and support useful reflection for career practitioners. We’ve experienced those supervision modes in our previous practices and it made sense to have both in our new venture, especially with our team member Julie having completed a Level 7 Professional Supervision and Workplace Coaching qualification.

Supervision process

In our monthly Peer Supervision sessions, which allow each team member to share themes/issues or incidents in an allocated time, we follow a process outlined by our colleague Robyn Bailey in her workshops for CDANZ:

  • Allocate roles – Facilitator – Timekeeper – Respectful of rules and uninterrupted space • Allocate the time • Check-in • Decide the focus for the session • Share time equally • Listen well • Discuss – Identify the issue – Focus on the future – Identify strengths, resources, exception – Constraints, obstacles, barriers – Feedback – What now • Summarise • End the session

Similar to my office decluttering, the Peer Supervision session leaves me feeling uplifted and ready to focus on the next step. If you are seeking support to get started with your peer supervision or need to refresh your approach, let The CDC team know. We also offer a free, confidential consultation to discuss your Professional Supervision needs. Check us out on www.thecdc.nz and email us: connect@thecdc.nz

Dr Val O’Reilly is an Executive Director at The Career Development Company.

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