Supervising with your Head and Heart

by
Monique Sigler, FCNI Staff Supervisor
August, 18, 2016 -

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

What does it mean to be a positive supervisor and why do I enjoy it?

My journey with the Family Care Network started almost 12 years ago, and has included many different roles and responsibilities. Of all of my differing roles, I have truly enjoyed supervising our Direct Services staff and supporting them in their professional growth.

After obtaining my degree in Psychology from UC Davis and returning to the Central Coast, I discovered FCNI and the agency’s mission spoke to me. Having grown up here, it has always been a passion of mine to give back to my community and serve others. I was originally hired as a Rehabilitation Specialist (RS)--back when we were called In-Home Support Counselors—and I worked in this role for two years in some of our most challenging homes and situations. During that time, I decided to earn a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. Following graduate school, I was promoted to a Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist. In these roles, I had the honor of working with the children and families in our Familia de Novo program (also known as the Wraparound program) for several years, providing case management, therapy and intensive mental health services to children and families. As my journey at FCNI continued, I was promoted to a Program Supervisor for Rehabilitation Support Services (or Rehabilitation Specialists) a few years ago. This is a role I have enjoyed the most, because supervising Direct Service staff allows me to support the growth and development of young professionals in the field and in serving our community.

So, what makes a good RS Supervisor?

First, the role of a Rehabilitation Specialist is hard work. The work is complex and difficult on many levels, from building relationships to having strong time management, professionalism and communication skills, to being able to effectively manage the safety of others. Every aspect of the role is important. In my early twenties, being an RS was a highly valuable, yet challenging job. As most RSs will tell you, no two days are the same. Some days are very rewarding—you help a youth identify something they are good at and secure a job in the process, or you get to assist a family in resolving a conflict which helps them communicate more positively. While other days are more challenging--you have to contact law enforcement to report a runaway, complete an incident report or are consistently running into communication roadblocks with clients. No day comes with the same rewards or the same challenges.

In being an RS Supervisor, it’s important to understand the complexities of the job, while also promoting the confidence, support and growth of those in the field dealing with the ups and downs of the role. An effective supervisor is someone who really understands the role of their staff, is genuine and empathetic while also holding their staff accountable. These supervisors are able to assess an individual’s needs in any given situation, assist them in developing awareness and insight, challenge them, and provide them with a trustworthy and safe environment so that person can explore their goals, both in their career and life path.   

As a Supervisor of RS staff, my style and approach to supervision aligns with our mission and is really more like a philosophy and lifestyle. Our mission is “to enhance the wellbeing of children and families in Partnership with our community”. Looking at my role through this lens, supervision becomes more about partnering with my staff to help them identify their strengths, problem-solve and learn how to think critically when faced with challenges both in the field and while managing their role. Respect, kindness and patience are three principals that I consistently keep in the forefront of my mind when I’m meeting with others. Not only does this approach help develop trust and a healthy relationship with my staff, but it also goes a long way towards helping me be more productive when having difficult conversations. These three principals remind me to practice a compassionate, supportive and non-judgmental approach when offering feedback, and to care enough about the staff I’m supervising that I remain honest. 

By practicing these attitudes and techniques, it’s amazing how you can actually see the confidence and competency blossom in your staff. And that, in turn, is what inspires me to continue to serve my community through this unique role.