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Gricel Okazaki, MS, LSMW Hunter College Undergraduate Paper


The first supervisory issue that I will be addressing is that of gender & supervision. In a former role, I worked for a mental health program composed of a three staff members and a supervisor. Our team was cohesive and we were able to draw upon each other’s strengths, life experience and educational expertise.

For example, the team included a peer specialist

who had a history of mental health (personal mental health problems), and a substance abuse counselor who had a history of substance abuse. I had several years in the field and a great deal of experience in working with the mentally ill population. Our immediate supervisor was promoted as a result of program expansion and I was subsequently assigned to be the supervisor

of

this

team.

As

Perlmutter

and

Crook

(2004),

points out, “it is inevitable that peer relationships will change when one is making the transition from direct practice to administration, and that some of these will be positive and others will be perceived as negative�( p.30). This was my first managerial position within the agency. We were a very cohesive team and I did not think that I would experience

any

difficulties

or

resistance

from

my

ex-

colleagues who were now my supervisees. I quickly learned that my

role

had

changed.

I

was

now

responsible

for

program


outcomes and for making sure that services were delivered in a timely manner. My first task as a supervisor was to assign the cases to the two case managers and to make sure they were meeting with the

clients

to

provide

them

with

individual

counseling

sessions as it related to their expertise. I immediately began to notice difficulties with one of the case managers (the substance

abuse

counselor.)

Previously,

our

working

relationship had been collaborative, as we were able to draw upon each other strengths to work on our cases. his

immediate

instructions, women.

supervisor,

indicating

he

that

he

began did

to

not

When I became undermine

take

orders

my from

Furthermore, he refused to submit a weekly schedule

and often times I was unable to account for his whereabouts. My

inexperience,

our

prior

co-worker

relationship

and

his

resistance to our new roles led to problems with delegating tasks to this worker. Cynthia Cohen explains that a study conducted by Sanshkin and Maier (1971) revealed that there is some

sex

difference

in

the

frequency

of

delegation.

Their

study further found that female managers become more cautious and less likely to take liberties and to act on their own, unless so instructed� (p.395). I at times felt the same and opted to perform the task myself instead of delegating it to my supervisee.


I immediately brought my concerns to my own supervisor, who

began

the

process

of

providing

me

with

individual

supervision. Kadushing & Harkness (2002) defined supervision as “an educational process in which a person with a certain equipment

of

knowledge

and

skills

takes

responsibility

for

training a person with less equipment” (p.19). My supervisor was instrumental in assisting me to identify the problems and to support me in asserting myself around this worker. He was also aware of the gender stereotype expressed by my supervisee and how it affected our working relationship. A number of experts

believe

that

“to

understand

gender

stereotypes,

we

need to understand the traditions on which they are based; traditional sex roles emphasize the difference rather than the similarities between women and men.” (Singh, 2003). I began to consider

other

factors

contributing

this

supervisee’s

stereotypical views. He was several years older than I was at the time. My understanding of his background was that he was an African American Male, who practiced the muslin religion. I was able to understand how these considerations were vital in order to develop a new relationship with this worker. Kadushin et al. (2003) illustrated that “becoming a supervisor forces one to explicitly examine one’s practice to conceptualize”. They

go

on

supervisor

to is

say in

that

some

“the

measure

transition analogous

from to

worker

to

developmental


transitions”

(Pp.

282-283).

I

strongly

agree

with

both

statements. For me, this process was very stressful. I needed to learn how to assert myself and to assume my new position. I also learned that the instrumental components of supervision are

concerned

with

“initiating

activity,

making

decisions,

organizing work, assigning work and reviewing and evaluating work” as well as “task outcomes, accountability, standards, rules, competence and effectiveness” (Kadushin et al., 203, p. 303). I think I was afraid to do all of these things for many reasons. I think that it was very difficult for me to make the transition from worker-to-supervisor. I was intimidated by all of the responsibilities and had hoped that I would have the support of all my peers. I thought I would be able to maintain dual relationships with no problems. With the support and guidance of my supervisor, I begun to meet with the substance abuse counselor and allowed him to voice his feelings and concerns as it related to our working relationship

and

his

position.

I

also

explained

his

responsibilities as an employee. Together, we developed a work plan that included his daily responsibilities, problem areas, performance and objectives.

I am happy to report that through

this rigorous and supportive process, this worker and I were able

to

develop

a

respectful

and

supportive

working


relationship.

In

their

summation,

Kadushin

et

al.,

(203)

maintained that “the transition to supervisor is a difficult change,

involving

reorientation

of

relationships

with

colleagues and alterations in self-perception and attitudes toward agency goals and procedures� (p. 329). In my case, I found their statement to be extremely relevant.

The second supervisory incident that I will be addressing involves lay-offs and how this has affected my work and my relationship with my supervisor. I

presently

work

for

the

Women’s

Prison

Association,

Alternative to Incarceration Program (WPA/ATI). The WPA/ATI is an organization seeking to reduce incarceration among women. The

alternative

offers

women

and

to

incarceration

the

criminal

component

justice

of

system

the the

agency use

of

community based, non-incarcerating responses to crime (WPA/ATI program outline). I was hired to serve as the Deputy Director. In this capacity, I have administrative responsibilities for the Residential Facility that houses 18-20 women. I manage the facility.

I

provide

supervision

to

two

case

managers

and

interact with the residents, assisting them with securing and locating a range of housing, employment and health services. Additionally, I am responsible for the fiscal accountability


of the program, program development, and intensive interaction with the criminal justice system. My immediate supervisor informed me in November of 2008 that the state of our economy and projective budget cuts would mean several lay-offs of staff. I was also informed that I would be assuming the responsibilities of those positions. In December of 2008, I had a formal meeting with my supervisor who assigned the following duties and responsibilities to me in addition to my own: These positions responsibilities are but not limited to: A.

Supervisor of the Residence Monitors: scheduled and

supervise

residence

monitors

for

residential

facilities.

Monitors client’s supplies and performs all of the duties of a residence monitor as well as to provide back-up for other residence monitors. B.

Program

Specialist:

provide

administrative

and

clerical support to ATI programs C.

Case

Manager:

Provide

counseling,

advocacy

and

referral services to court referred clients, Provide intensive case work to a caseload of 12-15.

Not only was I given these additional tasks, but I also have

not

received

any

direction

or

supervision

form

my


immediate supervisor.

I find that most of the time I am lost,

overwhelmed and multi-tasking without any guidance. Kadushin

et

al.,

(203),

maintained

that

“in

assigning

work the supervisor not only has to deal with the problem of task selection, but also has to decide the explicitness with which he or she instructs the worker about action that needs to be taken in implementing assignment” (p.56). I quickly found myself behind in the many tasks I was now responsible

for

performing.

I

requested

to

meet

with

my

supervisor to go over specific work assignments and to discuss the priority in which I was to perform these assignments. Although somehow

we

would

forget

schedule

that

we

to

were

meet,

she

supposed

to

would get

cancel

or

together

to

discuss these vital issues related to supervision. In her article The New M.S. W. Supervisor Problems of Role Transition, Ambramczk, (1980), looks at “the difficulties of the public welfare supervisor, at his or her frustration with

large

caseloads,

rapid

staff

turnover,

and

staff

rivalries and conflicts”. Ambramczk, goes on to illustrate how these supervisors struggled with “the problem of supervisory authority versus professional autonomy” (p. 83). I find myself dealing with the same struggles and feel that because I am new to this agency; I don’t have the authority or knowledge of the program

to

exercise

professional

authority.

As

illustrated


above,

I

have

made

several

attempts

to

schedule

a

formal

supervisory meeting with my supervisor. As discussed in one of our lectures, the supervisor is not only responsible for the clients but also for the people they supervise. In addition to feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, I have also begun to feel isolated. According to Levy (1973) supervision has been described, as an administrative process designed to improve services to clients

through

the

development

of

worker’s

skills

in

the

employment of agency-structured process� (p.14). I strongly agree with their description and had hoped to have been given the proper supervision to work towards achieving the goals of the different positions I current perform and those of the agency. The supportive role of the supervisor was unsuccessful in this last example, as for the past three months I have been assigned

three

new

positions

and

have

not

met

with

my

immediate supervisor to discuss how those tasks are going to be address, prioritize & schedule.

I also feel that I was not

properly introduced to my new responsibilities and the agency. I believe that my current agency structure is very rigid and formal. I say this because I have attempted to speak to my supervisor’s supervisor and I have been re-directed to address any

programmatic

issues

or

concerns

with

my

immediate


supervisor.

The

communication

function

of

a

supervisor

dictates that “the supervisor acts as an integral link in the chain of administrative communication” (Kadushin et al., (203) p.

63).

As

illustrated,

there

has

been

minimal

communication between myself and this supervisor.

or

no

Kadushin et

al. (2003), explains that communication needs to happen “in the vertical line of authority, the supervisor faces two waystoward the administrators above him or her in the hierarchy and toward the workers below” (p. 63).

The supervisory skill

illustrated above has not been successfully implemented as it relates to my job functions. I continue to struggle with the issues illustrated above. My current status as a MSW student requires that I remain in my current position, since this agency is providing me with the internship portion of my MSW studies. Kadushin et al. (2003),

explain

supervision

in

that

the

“each

Ecological component

in

frame the

of

social

expanding

work

set

of

components exerts some influence on the proceeding component, the contiguous components of the system having the greatest influence on each other.” For me, this has proved to be quite relevant.

I

feel

that

because

I

am

not

receiving

any

supervision or direction, I find that I am removed form the expanding

set

of

components

(e.g.,

agency

goals,

specifics

tasks and how they influence each other.) Kadushin et al.


maintains that “the more distant component, as a rule, the less direct, immediate impact is likely to exert� (p. 26). I strongly agree. I feel that I cannot perform many of my duties because I feel so removed from my expanding components. I remain unclear about my many roles and it is very difficult for me to exert any influence within the roles I perform.

Gricel,

Good

use

of

the

literature

scenarios.

Grade for Final paper ---Honors Group Presentation----Honors Course grade---Honors

in

analyzing

your

two


REFERENCES: Kasushin, A. & Harkness, D. (2003) Supervision in social Work 4th Edition. New York: Columbia University Press. Perlmutter, F.D., and Cook, Wendy. (2004). Changing Hats: From Social Work Practice to Administration.

2nd

edition. Washington, DC: NASW Press. Abramczyk ,L.W., “The New M.S.W. Supervisor: Problems of Role Transition.” Social Casework, 1980.Pp. 83-86. Levy, C. “The Ethics of Supervision.” Social Work, March 1973.Pp.14-21. Cooper, C. L., & Davidson, M. J., High Pressure: “working Lives of Women Mangers.” Manchester, United Kingdom: The University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, 1982. Pp.254. Cooper, C.L., & Davidson M. J., “Stress and the Woman Manager." New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1983. Pp. ix + 230. Cohen, C. “The Effects if Manger’s Sex and Attitudes toward Women” University of South Florida, 1980. Pp. 395-398. Singh, K., “Women Managers Perception vs. Performance Analysis.” University of Delhi, Vol 3, No. 1, April 2003, Pp. 31-41.


Simon, R., “Gender, Multiple Roles Meaning, Mental Health.” The University of Iowa, Journal of Health and Social Behavior vol. 36, June 1995, Pp. 182-194.

Supervision in Social Work  

My personal experience as a new SW supervisor

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