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.

What is going to be different about 2020?
Are you new to having career conversations with staff or experienced and wanting to refresh your approach?

The longer summer days and varying pace of life over the festive season are ideal for gaining perspective on your own career, as well as your manager role and how best to support the career journey of your staff.  

Speaking from 20 years of management experience, the demands of manager roles are wide ranging, the tasks can seem endless, and there are times when balancing the needs of the organisation with those of the employee can feel near impossible.

The good news is that there are myriad excellent development options for managers at all levels, including the essential skill of coaching. But the less favourable news is that for many managers the pressure is on coaching for performance of essential tasks in the shorter term rather than on coaching for the long-term goals and needs of the employee and organisation.

It was with this in mind that The Career Development Company has developed a programme to help equip managers with the skills and knowledge needed to have effective career conversations in the workplace. There is strong evidence that these conversations are one of the most important factors in building, motivating and developing highly skilled and committed employees. For example, in the 2015  Right Management Global Career Conversation Study , 4,402 respondents from 15 countries including New Zealand, responded to the question ‘If career conversations were more regular?’ with:

  • I would be more engaged with the work that I do – 82%
  • I would be more likely to share my ideas – 78%
  • I would be more likely to look for opportunities for career growth at my current employer -76%
  • I would be more likely to stay with my current employer – 75%
Tips for leading effective career conversations

I recently ran workshops with divisional groups of managers in a large government organisation where the following tips were applied. Although the value of career conversations was already accepted at this organisation, the challenge is to continue to improve the systems that support career conversations and to learn a simple framework for consistent practice.

Tip 1: Reflect on existing practices

Take some time to reflect on the processes that support career conversations in your organisation, and to reflect on your own recent career conversations. What is working well? What are the areas for improvement? What and who might help you make these improvements?

Tip 2: Have a structure for your conversations

You may already have a structure you use. Here’s a snapshot of The Career Development Company framework to compare or consider using:

  • Prepare well then start well – find a time that works for both of you, set expectations about both coming well prepared. Start in a welcoming way, outline the process and agree on the focus of the meeting.
  • Reflect on who they are – support each person to manage and develop their own career by asking questions that help them to reflect on who they are to better understand themselves.
  • Explore possibilities – help them examine ideas about possible future directions within the organisation, and outside the organisation if internal opportunities are limited.
  • Create strategies and implement action – discuss how they might develop their skills and capabilities, and encourage them to set career goals and develop an action plan. Provide ongoing support with implementing their plan. You may agree to offer specialist support such as external career coaching.
Tip 3: Update your own development plan

Effective career conversations contribute to improved staff engagement and retention. If you have identified learning needs from reading this Blog, you may like to add these to your development plan as a manager.

Contact The CDC (connect@thecdc.nz) to discuss how we can assist you and your organisation to thrive.


Julie Thomas is an Executive Director at The Career Development Company.

“…a series of informative and supportive seminars designed to assist students, families and schools in their career journey.”

Careers Expo

Just announced…we’re volunteering our time and expertise at this year’s Careers Expo. Watch for updates in the coming weeks about the seminars we’ll be presenting and read articles from us in the next JETmag.


The Expo has joined with The Career Development Company to bring a series of informative and supportive seminars designed to assist students, families and schools in their career journey.