So you’ve been thinking of becoming a social work supervisor? Good! Being a social work supervisor can be a rewarding profession. After all, they are responsible for providing direction and consultation to the social workers conducting functions such as referral, monitoring, placement, and counseling.
The job also comes with financial benefits. Recent data shows social work supervisors earn between $80,926 and $102,627 a year, depending on experience, certifications, and academic background. However, you must possess specific skills to succeed as a social work supervisor.
This article outlines the essential skills a social work supervisor needs to communicate organizational needs, manage social workers’ performances, and handle the relationship between the client and the organization.
Effective communication in a supervisory role in social work is paramount. As a social work supervisor, you will interact with social workers regularly since you are responsible for assigning cases, evaluating case activities, and initiating corrective actions.
Supervising is about leading and guiding others to do the job in your desired manner. When you are a strong communicator, you can better manage your teams. This also allows for an easier delegation of tasks, building relationships, and ensuring concerns are addressed accordingly.
Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving this because every organization is unique. However, an excellent start is to set a positive tone by discouraging complaining, negativity, and gossip among the social workers you manage.
You can also create an atmosphere of open communication. Let your team of social workers know you are not too busy to be interrupted by unexpected issues or concerns. Like it or not, social work is a breeding ground for the unexpected since you deal with individuals from different walks of life.
By communicating openly, you can improve the collaboration between social workers within your organization and make everyone feel involved in your projects for increased satisfaction and better efficiency. When using the appropriate techniques, two-way communication can also be used to change or reinforce behavior.
It is not uncommon for conflict to surface in the workplace because of perceived differences in values, goals, rights, needs, and interests. According to a QZ report, roughly 85% of employees experience conflicts at work, with 29% adding they had to deal with conflict almost immediately.
For a social work organization to fulfill its duties effectively, every member must work together harmoniously. As a social work supervisor, you must learn to manage conflicts well to resolve issues and develop successful relationships.
When you have understood how to manage conflict, you will inspire confidence among your social workers to question each other in the spirit of making the best decision for the organization. But how do you manage conflict in the social work sector? The initial step to handling conflict effectively is understanding the different conflict styles.
While some conflicts are solved through straight conversations, others require specific approaches, especially those originating from deep-seated differences in principles and values. This way, social work managers can discuss ideas and issues to foster a productive and efficient workplace. Once you’ve determined the conflict, you can develop a plan to work on it and determine ways to meet the common goal.
Social work supervisors work with clients and employees from diverse backgrounds and walks of life, so they must learn to be respectful and responsive to cultural beliefs and practices. You this know, when studying for an advanced standing MSW online at a prestigious academic institution, such as Cleveland State University, you will tackle several topics to understand the differing values, beliefs, and attitudes across various cultures in a flexible online degree.
When you are culturally aware, you increase the likelihood of fostering a high level of engagement from your social workers. This is because by establishing a foundation for understanding various cultural norms, cultural awareness strengthens organizations. Moreover, culturally-competent social work supervisors are more open to the perspectives and views of others, allowing for enhanced unity and collaboration.
Through this process, they heighten their empathy and adaptability toward their team members and can generate more creative ideas to solve problems. Globalization has influenced social work to the point that supervisors now deal with employees from diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds. Building relationships with these employees would be much more difficult without cultural competence.
Conversely, when culturally aware, you can interact respectfully and knowledgeably with your employees and people outside your inner circle. This, in turn, leads to improved communication and collaboration, increased employee satisfaction, and a greater ability to work with individuals from different walks of life.
Last but certainly not least, on this list of essential skills a competent social work supervisor must have is leadership. Social work supervisors with leadership abilities help bring accountability to their teams by establishing a motivating and supportive atmosphere.
Since a social work supervisor role entails planning, assigning, and reviewing activities performed by social workers, you must learn how to lead well. But how? After all, effective leadership is more than sitting in a corner office and delegating tasks to your social workers.
One rule of thumb is to engage in honest and open communication. When responsible for a team of social workers, you must be straightforward since the company and its employees reflect your team. By making honest and ethical behavior a key value, you inspire employees to respond honestly and ethically.
An effective leader understands how to show others what is required instead of telling them. Alternatively, you can also teach employees instead of giving orders. If you lead by controlling people to do things in specific ways, you will not achieve the level of engagement you want.
In contrast, if you coach your team of social workers, you can lead them to recognize the choices they have. This way, they can take a great deal of ownership over the direction of their work and achieve their goals and expectations.
Becoming a social work supervisor requires skills, abilities, and educational qualifications. Having these credentials empowers you to succeed and lead your team to fulfill their duties and continue doing meaningful work.