Effective supervision and organizational culture

Authored by: Abigail Ornellas , Lambert Engelbrecht

The Routledge International Handbook of Social Work Supervision

Print publication date:  June  2021
Online publication date:  June  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367250867
eBook ISBN: 9780429285943
Adobe ISBN:


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Supervision has been a long-standing practice within social work. Yet it can be argued that the supervisory role has not effectively evolved to fit into the broader changing organizational culture of the social work profession worldwide, which has shifted due to socio-political changes and demands. While these changes may be reflected in the broader parameters of the profession, such as circumscribed in the global definition of social work and the global agenda for social work and social development, it appears that supervision practices, as the very muscle of the profession, have possibly become relatively stagnant. Supervision of social workers has been largely displaced by mere management roles and activities in many countries, with frontline social workers, in many instances, expressing concerns over a lack of meaningful support in supervision. This is affecting not only the quality of intervention delivered to social work service users, but also the mental health of social workers themselves. When the roles of supervisors are no longer aligned with the value-culture of an organization or the profession at large, segregation between the objectives and practices of the organization can manifest, causing confusion and ineffectiveness of supervision, as well as a conflict between professional and managerial values. To remain effective, supervision practices need to be aligned with the evolving value-culture of social work organizations.

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