Saturday, 6 June 2009

Supervision and Mentoring

I've been thinking a lot recently about supervision and mentoring and the overlap and differences between them. It seems to me that both roles can pick up aspects of the four quadrants model of supervision (management, support, education and mediation) but there are key differences...

Supervision (oversight/episcope) assumes some form of "elevated vision". A supervisor is expected to see a bigger picture and may even have some clearly defined responsibility for the work that is being "undertaken" - usually on behalf of a "higher" body. This does not necessarily imply control or superiority but it does require a particular perspective or "position". Supervision could be likened to the top or archetects view of a building - how does it work? How do the bits fit together?

On the other hand, mentoring requires an emptying of position. A good mentor has no power to compell or direct but must agree to "come alongside" the person they are mentoring. A mentor may have particular knowledge or experience but they should be careful to allow the mentee to take responsibility and, on the whole, work things out for themself - while feeding in questions and thoughts that expand their horizons... Mentors must discuss the progress of the work (management) - They must encourage, inspire and empathise (support) - They must look for opportunities to learn (education) - They must help their mentee think about how they relate to others (mediation) - but they must also do this from a particular perspective. They are companions and fellow travellors - rather than overseers and co-ordinators. Mentoring could be be described as "fellow-travelling" or being "pilgrims together". Was Jesus acting as a mentor on the road to Emmaus... Mentors apprach a situation from the side...

Supervisors must approach a situation from above, mentors approach it from the side. Both roles are crucial - but different.

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