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THE OPERATIONALISATION OF STRENGTHS-BASED SUPERVISION AS AN ETHICAL APPROACH TO SOCIAL AND HEALTH CARE LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT Dr Lambert Engelbrecht.

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Presentation on theme: "THE OPERATIONALISATION OF STRENGTHS-BASED SUPERVISION AS AN ETHICAL APPROACH TO SOCIAL AND HEALTH CARE LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT Dr Lambert Engelbrecht."— Presentation transcript:

1 THE OPERATIONALISATION OF STRENGTHS-BASED SUPERVISION AS AN ETHICAL APPROACH TO SOCIAL AND HEALTH CARE LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT Dr Lambert Engelbrecht Dept of Social Work, Stellenbosch University South Africa

2 Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 2 Introduction The emergence of new public management measures as an operationalisation of neoliberal ideas is evident in various social work contexts all over the world. Consequential changes in conditions of service delivery, control and accountability create an infusion of management mechanisms for bureaucratic standardisation in social service delivery.

3 This growing global discourse has an immense impact on managers and workers ethical conduct, as organisations, and social and health care workers are subjected to ever increasing performance pressures, exacerbated by a dominant deficit-based work orientation. These stressors, coupled in many instances with a traditional Western paternalistic and imperialist male worldview of management and leadership in social and health care, as imbedded in management models employed at organisations, need to be addressed by a critical theory beyond a deficits approach as an interpretative framework. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 3

4 A strengths perspective, defined as a theory of social and health care practice (Healy, 2005), with a focus on strengths, competencies, capacities, capabilities and resilience instead of on problems and pathology, is a challenge posed to managers in social and health care in order to counteract this situation (Cohen, 1999), with a specific and concrete approach towards ethical practices by workers and managers alike, as a demonstration of good ethical leadership. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 4

5 In response to the before mentioned challenge, this presentation attempts in a vein similar to Fergusons (2003) Critical Best Practice (CBP) approach to present an example of a best practice strengths-based supervision of social workers, –which may be replicated, generalise or transformed to fit other contexts and situations in different professional capacities. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 5

6 The South African welfare context, as a showcase for a paradigm shift of welfare service delivery from a social treatment model to a developmental service delivery model serves as an example of a best practice vignette of a strengths perspective on supervision employed at a welfare organisation. This best practice vignette may thus be applicable and transferable to other disciplines and professions. Therefore I shall refer interchangeably to: –supervisees/workers, who may be any professional; –and supervisors, who may be a manager in any social and health care setting –within a leadership context. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 6

7 Content Ethics in leadership, management and supervision A strengths perspective in social work Strengths-based supervision Excerpts of supervisees experiences of supervision Best practice vignette based on workshops with supervisors:Best practice vignette based on workshops with supervisors: –Strengths-based assessment matrix –Personal development plan (PDP) matrix –Strengths-based principles –Language of strengths-based supervision –Cautions regarding the strengths-based supervision experience Difference between tradition supervision and strengths-based supervisionDifference between tradition supervision and strengths-based supervision ConclusionConclusion Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 7

8 Ethics in leadership, management and supervision Supervision/management is an ethical experience. Ethics is part of our human quest, which is towards the good (Aristotle) Being responsible for what we do is thus part of being ethical. Ethics demands consciousness: –the ability to be aware of what is being done. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 8

9 But to foster ethical practices (what is being done) by professionals; the management and supervision of these professionals should also be ethical. Usually this is an unspoken topic, –as the link between the ethical management/supervision of workers and workers ethical performances in practices are not being regarded as coherent. However, research (Engelbrecht 2010; 2012) shows that workers do as their leaders do, implying: –that supervisees have the tendency to act and perform in the same why as their supervisors. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 9

10 Thus: if the management/supervision of supervisees is not ethical; –the supervisees are more prone to unethical conduct in practice. Ethics are chiefly contextualised and conceptualised in terms of what to do and what not to do –as most professions have ethical codes for ethical conduct. However, little is said on how to instil ethical conduct. Usually, no concrete approaches exist to instil ethical conduct by workers as well as by managers, – and if they exist, these approaches are charismatic, simplistic, a one-size-fit-all recipe and not scholarly. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 10

11 It appears that the main features of and common ways to instil ethical conduct: –is in a remedial way, –where the manager is telling the worker what is right and what is wrong, – without necessarily acting as a role model, demonstrating ethical conduct, –and without a process to ensure sustainability of ethical conduct, as these ethical supervision sessions are usually regarded as once-off sessions when a crisis occur. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 11

12 As ethics is an abstract concept, the approach to instil sustainable ethical conduct of workers by managers, should adhere to a specific criteria, which is: –part of a process; –planned and structured (not impromptu); –concrete and practical (otherwise it stays abstract) –outcomes-based focussed; –and not within a problem and deficit context. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 12

13 This preceding criteria to instil ethical practices of workers by managers; should thus be framed within a specific approach. An approach which seeks to encapsulates the criteria for the instilment of an ethical conduct –is an interpretative framework for strengths-based supervision of workers. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 13

14 A strengths perspective in social work practice The roots of the strengths perspective reach deep into the history of social work, as represented by social work pioneers such as Hollis (1966) and Perlman (1957). A revival of the strengths perspective was initiated largely by scholars of the University of Kansas. Social workers and other professionals throughout the world re-examined the strengths-based ideas and found them to be compatible with their own beliefs. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 14

15 A synthesis of conceptualisations on the strengths perspective adheres to a multifaceted philosophy which moves away from pathology and deficits towards practices which focus –on the strengths, assets, capacities, abilities, resilience and resources of people; –and is eminently based on key concepts such as empowerment, capacity, ownership, partnership, facilitation and participation; –it concerns itself with a language of progressive change; –it is compatible with social work's commitment to the person-in- environment; –and it can be applied in a number of contexts and situations. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 15

16 A strengths perspective on supervision of social workers Supervision in South Africa is generally defined by a normative or administrative function, a formative or educational function and a restorative or supportive function. Recent research reveals (Engelbrecht, 2010; 2012) that the way in which these supervision functions are depicted, tends to consider supervisees to be in deficit despite organisations social development approach, –which may be regarded as contradicting clinical intervention and correlating supervision practices. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 16

17 This arises from the fact that the functions of supervision as expounded by Kadushin (1976) are intrinsically based on a traditional problem-oriented paradigm (Perlman, 1957) of social work practice. In this connection, Cohen (1999) advised that problem- solving supervision may undermine strengths-based practices considering the parallels that exist between the process of supervision and the process of practice. – …problem-centred supervision would render strengths-based practice very difficult indeed and could result in the strengths- oriented supervisee developing either a powerful resistance to the supervision or a grand confusion in his or her work with clients (Cohen, 1999: 462) This postulation was echoed by a cohort of supervisees in SA in resent research (Engelbrecht, 2010; 2012) Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 17

18 E of supervisees experiences of supervision Excerpts of supervisees experiences of supervision Supervision is a focus on: do this, that and the other and just highlighting what Im doing wrong! Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 18

19 E of supervisees experiences of supervision Excerpts of supervisees experiences of supervision Supervisors rely on their own experiences of being supervised and there practice (social work) experience – which all focussed on problems and deficits Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 19

20 E of supervisees experiences of supervision Excerpts of supervisees experiences of supervision Supervision becomes an administration control session in order to deal with day-to-day operations in the office, instead of focussing also on the professional development of the social worker in terms of what the worker is capable of doing Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 20

21 E of supervisees experiences of supervision Excerpts of supervisees experiences of supervision Supervision becomes a baby sitting… and a punishment Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 21

22 As part of the search for an appropriate ethical approach to supervision of social workers, research was conducted by means of workshops, as a research methodology, with supervisors in SA in order to establish a Critical Best Practices (DBP) case study (vignette), reflecting on supervision in a specific welfare organisation, with the aim to construct an interpretative framework for the operationalisation of strengths-based supervision as an ethical approach to social and health care leadership and management Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 22

23 Best practice vignette based on workshops with supervisors Background of the organisation: Supervision is regarded as a middle management activity internal to the organisation. All front-line social service professionals employed by the organisation receive supervision from middle managers in accordance with organisation policies. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 23

24 All social workers employed by the organisation receive in-house training in strengths-based social work practices –and are expected to reflect this perspective in their interventions as indicated in organisational manuals and documents. The organisation redefine itself as a strengths-based learning organisation, and initiate processes to transform its problem and deficit oriented management and supervision practices to be congruent with the ideal of strengths-based social work intervention practices. This revaluation initiated the construction of interpretative frameworks using an inductive methodology by means of workshops with the supervisors in order to facilitate an alternative management and supervision paradigm. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 24

25 Workshop participants (supervisors) decided to delineate the organisations management of supervision to a two-step process and associated product, namely –a strengths-based assessment –and a strengths-based personal development plan (PDP). Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 25

26 Strengths-based assessment The strengths-based assessment of social workers serves mainly as a process of information gathering to compile a strengths register of assets, talents, competencies and capabilities, which may be recognised and actively engaged in the PDP and subsequent supervision sessions of the social worker. The assessment is a keeping of an assets register instead of conducting a needs survey, as it is: –a compilation of a skills register to list what supervisees can do or contribute; – not a denial of problems, but rather a choice to focus on talents, skills and competencies as opposed to spending all the time and energy on deficits. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 26

27 The strengths-based assessment determines signature strengths, which have the following hallmarks: –A sense of ownership and authenticity (This is the real me) –A feeling of excitement while displaying it –A rapid learning curve as the strength is first practiced –A sense of yearning to find new ways to use it –Invigoration rather than exhaustion while using the strength –Joy, zest, enthusiasm while using it Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 27

28 The strengths-based assessment is an audit matrix on work related strengths in order to: –Identify misperceptions and check them against perceptions of strengths. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 28

29 Strengths- based assessmentKnowledge Skills Values Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 29

30 Strengths- based assessment Social worker characteristicsKnowledge e.g.: - self-knowledge - leadership - communication - loyalty - creativity - adaptability Skills Values Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 30

31 Strengths- based assessment Social worker characteristics OrganisationKnowledge e.g.: - self-knowledge - leadership - communication - loyalty - creativity - adaptability e.g.: -policies - legislation - statutory processes - budgets - administration Skills Values Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 31

32 Strengths- based assessment Social worker characteristics OrganisationService usersKnowledge e.g.: - self-knowledge - leadership - communication - loyalty - creativity - adaptability e.g.: -policies - legislation - statutory processes - budgets - administration e.g.: - culture - developmental phases - socio- economic status -capabilities Skills Values Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 32

33 Strengths- based assessment Social worker characteristics OrganisationService users Challenges of service usersKnowledge e.g.: - self-knowledge - leadership - communication - loyalty - creativity - adaptability e.g.: -policies - legislation - statutory processes - budgets - administration e.g.: - culture - developmental phases - socio- economic status -capabilities e.g.: - poverty - homelessness - abuse - troubled relationships - family violence Skills Values Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 33

34 Strengths- based assessment Social worker characteristics OrganisationService users Challenges of service users Intervention with service usersKnowledge e.g.: - self-knowledge - leadership - communication - loyalty - creativity - adaptability e.g.: -policies - legislation - statutory processes - budgets - administration e.g.: - culture - developmental phases - socio- economic status -capabilities e.g.: - poverty - homelessness - abuse - troubled relationships - family violence e.g.: - methodologies - models, theories and perspectives - integration of theory and practice Skills Values Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 34

35 Strengths- based assessment Social worker characteristics OrganisationService users Challenges of service users Intervention with service usersKnowledge e.g.: - self-knowledge - leadership - communication - loyalty - creativity - adaptability e.g.: -policies - legislation - statutory processes - budgets - administration e.g.: - culture - developmental phases - socio- economic status -capabilities e.g.: - poverty - homelessness - abuse - troubled relationships - family violence e.g.: - methodologies - models, theories and perspectives - integration of theory and practice Skills Values Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 35

36 PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN (PDP) Flowing from the strengths-based assessment's interpretative framework, the supervisors of the organisation concerned identified ten competencies as the basis for each social workers PDP, which is peculiar to the organisations domain within the social development approach. The competencies are not a job description, –but are seen as providing a common language; –for the organisation to define organisation-specific practices; –as determined by the organisation's vision, mission and service plan. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 36

37 Each competency informs specific outcomes, based on the social workers strengths-based assessment and situational work context. The participating managers interpret an outcome: –as a demonstration of achievements culminating in a reliable, valid, authentic, current and sufficient context, stemming from a particular competency; –the outcomes ought to contain a verb to denote action, –an object or noun; –and as far as possible a word or parameter with which to qualify it Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 37

38 Competencies 1. Policies and legislation 2. Methodologies 3. Assessments 4. Contracting with service. users 5. Engagement with service. users 6. Integration of theories,.. perspectives and models 7. Utilisation of specific. Intervention programmes 8. Documentation 9. Management 10 Monitoring and evaluation Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 38

39 CompetenciesSpecific outcomes 1. Policies and legislation e.g.: 1.1. Practice reflects ability to work in accordance with statutory requirements 2. Methodologies 3. Assessments 4. Contracting with service. users 5. Engagement with service. users 6. Integration of theories,.. perspectives and models 7. Utilisation of specific. Intervention programmes 8. Documentation 9. Management 10 Monitoring and evaluation Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 39

40 CompetenciesSpecific outcomesSupervision activities 1. Policies and legislation e.g.: 1.1. Practice reflects ability to work in accordance with statutory requirements 1.1 Self-study of applicable statutory documents such as:…………….. 2. Methodologies 3. Assessments 4. Contracting with service. users 5. Engagement with service. users 6. Integration of theories,.. perspectives and models 7. Utilisation of specific. Intervention programmes 8. Documentation 9. Management 10 Monitoring and evaluation Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 40

41 CompetenciesSpecific outcomesSupervision activitiesAssessment method 1. Policies and legislation e.g.: 1.1. Practice reflects ability to work in accordance with statutory requirements 1.1 Self-study of applicable statutory documents such as:…………….. 1.1 Present court reports of ….. (service user) and identify ……(social workers) ability (strengths and challenges) to work in accordance with statutory requirements 2. Methodologies 3. Assessments 4. Contracting with service. users 5. Engagement with service. users 6. Integration of theories,.. perspectives and models 7. Utilisation of specific. Intervention programmes 8. Documentation 9. Management 10 Monitoring and evaluation Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 41

42 CompetenciesSpecific outcomesSupervision activitiesAssessment method 1. Policies and legislation e.g.: 1.1. Practice reflects ability to work in accordance with statutory requirements 1.1 Self-study of applicable statutory documents such as:…………….. 1.1 Present court reports of ….. (service user) and identify ……(social workers) ability (strengths and challenges) to work in accordance with statutory requirements 2. Methodologies 3. Assessments 4. Contracting with service. users 5. Engagement with service. users 6. Integration of theories,.. perspectives and models 7. Utilisation of specific. Intervention programmes 8. Documentation 9. Management 10 Monitoring and evaluation Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 42

43 Strengths-based principles Principles identified by workshop participants are: –aimed at creating supervisees independence; –optimising participation in the supervision process; –respecting self-determination; –develop self-control regarding reactions and decisions; –supervisor lets go of the power associated with the title of "supervisor; Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 43

44 –focus on success as a necessary condition; –guard against focusing on the past and its connection with current performance; –focus on the development of existing competencies; –create a vision and challenges for the future; –not be crisis-driven; –not see the supervisee as the victim. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 44

45 Participants realise: –Thinking in terms of a strengths perspective requires conscious effort: The urge to determine what is missing or lacking appears stronger than the urge to locate strengths and resources. The language of a strengths perspective is important: –Typical social work language tends to be problem-focussed Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 45

46 Participants also discovered some cautions regarding the strengths-based supervision experience –Supervisees are not always accustomed to the responsibility of positive ownership. –Negative ownership (being comfortable within a negative situation or co-dependent in some contexts) can become comfortable for some supervisees. –Supervisees to take ownership only when they are ready. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 46

47 DIFFERENCEBETWEEN TRADITION SUPERVISION AND STRENGTHS-BASED SUPERVISION? Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 47

48 TRADITIONALSTRENGTHS-BASED The supervisor educates and the supervisee is being taught in terms of ethical conduct Both the supervisor and the supervisee are involved in the education and they learn from each other in terms of ethical conduct Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 48

49 TRADITIONALSTRENGTHS-BASED The supervisor is the all- knowing expert and the supervisee is the layperson The supervisor admits that he/she is not the all- knowing expert and appreciates and utilises the supervisees knowledge and experience Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 49

50 TRADITIONALSTRENGTHS-BASED The supervisor takes full responsibility for the critical reflection on interventions, especially in terms of ethical conduct The supervisor and the supervisee are jointly involved in critical, reflective and imaginative thinking in terms of ethical conduct Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 50

51 TRADITIONALSTRENGTHS-BASED The supervisor makes the ethical decisions and the supervisee implements them. The supervisor and the supervisee make joint ethical decisions, based on what is appropriate. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 51

52 TRADITIONALSTRENGTHS-BASED The supervisor controls the supervision process and ethical conduct and the supervisee is being controlled The supervisor and the supervisee strive to meet each other's needs instead of administering the control of the supervision process and ethical conduct Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 52

53 Conclusion Ultimate core question remainsUltimate core question remains: Who is taking ownership of the supervision process, ethical decisions and conduct? –Workshop participants decide: a strengths perspectives on supervision of social workers holds that ownership of the supervision process implies a shared agenda between the supervisee and the supervisor and that the focus on workers strengths does not mean an abdication of responsibilities for the development of own competencies (specifically within the context of ethical decisions and conduct). Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 53

54 Using the strengths perspective is a balancing act –Deficits need to be acknowledge and can not be simply ignored. –This balancing act should be guided by the nature and stage of the partnership, the context and the issues at hand. The strengths perspective is not just positive thinking in another guise: –It is as wrong to deny the deficits as it is to deny that which is possible. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 54

55 The outcomes of strengths-based supervision, specifically focussed on ethical conduct of supervisees, have inter alia the following components: –the fostering of an ethical sensitivity, implying e.g.: Awareness of own current values Awareness of motivations Knowledge to use power To accept limitations Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 55

56 –discerning ethical decisions, implying e.g.: Being open Making clear decisions Noticing external pressures on decision making Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 56

57 –implementing ethical decisions, implying e.g.: Being alert to the possible gap between deciding what to do and actually implementing the decision Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 57

58 –justifying ethical decisions, implying e.g.: Accountability for decisions made is enhanced by not becoming defensive but being honest and noticing where there are risks, lack of clarity and differences in viewpoints, and Allowing conflict and disagreement Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 58

59 ethical peace and sustainability, implying e.g.: Ethical maturity –Having the reflective, rational, emotional and intuitive capacity to decide whether actions are right and wrong, having the resilience to implement decisions, and being accountable for decisions made. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 59

60 As a proactive response to neoliberal global and local market demands, a strengths perspective thus compels supervisors to employ strengths- based interpretative frameworks for assessments and personal development plans of supervisees, specifically to enhance their ethical conduct in practice. This reveals true ethical and transformational leadership. Dr Lambert K Engelbrecht Dept. of Social Work, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 60


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