Community Development Practice Hub

Community Development Practice Hub

The Community Development Practice Hub is a resource for people and organisations who ‘work with’ people in Birmingham so they can take collective action to make changes to things that are important to them and their communities. 

We aim to connect, inspire and upskill community development practitioners across Birmingham.

Come join us on this exciting journey, as we collaborate with the sector to offer a tailored approach with a focus on Birmingham-specific learning, challenges, and achievements.  

Research has shown that Supervision ensures that community development practitioners feel valued, supported and more prepared for the challenges of their role. In turn, they are more motivated, with reduced rates of staff absence and turnover. In addition, incorporating a reflective element to Supervision is recognised as a valuable tool for community development practitioners to explore and develop their practice. 

Unfortunately for many people, their experiences of supervision are too often focused on targets and administration, with little if any time given to reflection on practice and professional development. However, by noticing and paying attention to our strengths and the challenges we have faced, we can grow as people and professionals. Incorporating reflective practice in supervision also allow supervisors to be alongside the practice of community development, in turn helping to build a good quality relationship and trust between the supervisor and supervisee.

‘Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful’. Margaret J Wheatley

What are the aims of Supervision?

Supervision enables organisational, professional, and personal development goals to be achieved within a context of support and accountability. It has a range of aims and objectives, such as;

  • Providing space for practitioners to receive guidance, feedback, support, and praise.
  • Supports continuous professional development to ensure practitioners have the relevant skills, knowledge and understanding to deliver quality practice.
  • Guide practitioners with organisation and management of their workload.
  • Strengthens the capacities of community development practitioners to achieve positive outcomes for the people they work
  • To provide an intentional and boundaried space to discuss any issues practitioners may be experiencing in their work.

‘The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.’ Henry Miller.

Our target-driven work culture rarely values time for reflection. However, it’s worth making time for reflection and critical thinking. With an element of reflective practice, effective Supervision can create an environment of mutual respect, with goals set and achieved through interpersonal development, rather than rigid accountability.
Do you currently have staff supervision processes in place?

If not, there are excellent resources at NVCO that can help you put them in place.

If you want to add an element of reflection to your current staff supervision processes, read on

Simple system

Reflecting, sharing, learning and celebrating challenges and successes enables people to truly thrive at work and deliver the best outcomes for themselves and the organisation
You could embed a simple process of reflection into Supervision by including these two questions in each session.

What has gone well since your last Supervision?

Have you found anything challenging since your last Supervision? How have you/are you overcoming the challenge(s)?
The two questions above are pretty broad and allow staff members to reflect on learning, motivation, and general well-being. You can then work with them to set objectives or personal development plans, reviewed at subsequent supervisions.

You can broaden the conversation by incorporating the following questions as appropriate;

  • What have you learnt about yourself from these experiences?
  • What do you need to do differently over the next month?
  • What development or support do you need to achieve this?
  • Since your last Supervision, what have you learnt about yourself that you would most like to focus on and develop between now and your next Supervision?
  • How do you feel about the month ahead?

You can explore some simple models of reflection here

Tony Morrison’s Model of Supervision, or the 4x4x4 approach

You could use Tony Morrison’s Model of Supervision or the 4x4x4 approach for a systematic approach to Supervision that integrates:

4 Functions (management, mediation, development, and personal support)
4 Types of Supervision (experience, reflection, analysis and action planning)
4 Stakeholders (beneficiaries, staff, organisation and partners).

Commonplace in social work settings, the model is rooted in the belief that Supervision is an integral part of working within communities and informs the quality of community development practice and the outcomes achieved with communities.

A brief overview of the process can be found below, with links to more in-depth guidance on how to use the model.

Format and frequency should include 1:1 formal supervision sessions at least once a month. Ad-hoc Supervision when issues arise. The 4x4x4 approach uses a cyclical learning model, consisting of four stages based on Kolb's adult learning cycle. As a supervisor, you work collaboratively with a supervisee through the four stages. You can start the cycle at any stage, but must follow them in sequence:

  • Experience (or “DO”)
    The story – what happened? In this stage, the supervisee discusses what is happening in their current work. It also provides opportunity to discuss the perspective of community members they are working with. It may help to focus on a specific aspect of work, activity or incident.
  • Reflective (or “OBSERVE”)
    What was it like? In this stage the supervisee can explore their feelings and reactions. Here they could explore and understand how stress may impacts them. It can also be an opportunity to explore any assumptions and biases that might influence practice.
  • Analysis (or “THINK”)
    Asking why, what does this mean? In this stage, the supervisee is asked to consider the meaning of the specific aspect of work, activity or incident they are exploring, and to inform their thinking apply knowledge of similar situations. It allows them to explore their practice, and identify any learning and development needs.
  • Planning (or “PLAN”)
    What next? In this stage, you work together to create a plan, based on any needs or actions identified through this process.

When using the supervision cycle

  • You can use the cycle in both formal situations and in ad hoc conversations.
  • Use open questions to facilitate discussion. Avoid closed questions that lead to Yes/No answers.
  • Try to work through all the stages and avoid the temptation to miss out reflection and analysis.

Talk to your line manager or board of trustees and discuss how to integrate reflective supervision your current management and professional development processes.

Further reading

The context for effective Supervision: Developing a supervision policy

Research in Practice
Supporting individuals, teams and organisations
Checklists and guide

Insights, achieving effective Supervision

Research in Practice for Adults
Practice Tool, Getting the most out of Supervision