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hoping you can help me. I have a very good member of staff who has recently been promoted to a supervisory role. She is good with the organisation and paperwork side of the role but really struggles with the supervision and can not manage to direct the staff or point out areas that they need to improve on.

I have sent her on a basic management course hoping that this would give her the confidence to take the lead in supervising the staff but unfortunately if the staff argue with her or question her she still becomes upset and she is still unable to give them direction.

I desparately want to support and develop her in this role but I am running out of ideas (And tissues when the staff upset her).

Part of me feels that maybe we should re evaluate her position which I have discussed with her aprt from not wanting to give up on her, she says she is really enjoying all other aspects of the role and does not want to give it up. :o Sorry to have rambled on but really could do with some ideas on this one.




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Hi Shelley


I have exactly the same situation with a senior member of my staff, unfortunately i do not have any answers!!


I have been shadowing her, taking the lead in situations, trying to give her confidence when dealing with staff. She is getting better, but only in my presence.


I look forward to reading other peoples ideas!!

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It's that balance between work colleagues and subhordinates ( in the best sense of the word).


Assertiveness training may help, or maybe some role play ( just you and her as she trusts you) Act out different scenario's to help her to find her voice in a safe context ( if you know what I mean)


Also maybe have a word with other staff as to their responsibilities to show initiative etc, often I find that the things I have to direct staff on are things that they are fully understanding of, maybe leaving things for others to do ( being a bit lazy) or not recognising when they need to step in with children etc.


Encourage the supervisor to award initiative shown by staff ( verbally in front of other staff or 1-1 recognition such as "you did well today stepping in with Tommy when I was talking to Ann's mum"


Also the supervisor needs to practice phrases to use directing staff, not so much "can you....." but more, commanding " Go and support Ann with her puzzle" I often use body language as well as verbal, I will look at a member of staff and say " There needs to be an adult in the book area"


You say she gets tearful, is this more about needing to challenge staffs behaviour rather than directing them? If she needs to direct them too much she may feel that she is challenging their lack of initiative, laziness etc. In this context she again needs to practice what phrases to use.

I love my husbands ex army phrase " That wasn't a request" :o ( a bit strong for colleagues though ). Phrases that are not personal ie starting with "I want, I feel, I wonder", , this is hard and does need practice. "I expect" or even practice the use of questions so that staff have to reflect on their own behaviour instead of having to be too directed. " Why is .....not done yet?

"Why has this been left here?" "Why is there a problem with.......?"

Sometimes it is easier to give advance directions ie: Tomorrow you need to do so and so before lunchtime, then if it is not done at lunchtime say " I asked for so and so to be done before lunchtime you need to do it now". This helps the staff to think about ( remember) what has to be done. Thus promoting initiative. If the person does remember and does the job then say " Thanks for remembering now that needs to be done every other day" ( ie: repeat timescales so instruction only had to be given once instead of every day.



Good luck.




just thought, ask your supervisor to spend some time on thinking how she can be more 'proactive' directing staff to future tasks, rather than 'reactive' dealing with what has not been done.



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I am in the same situation of your supervisor myself, I am good with the organisation and paperwork side of the role but really struggles with the supervision and can not manage to direct the staff. I have been in the supervisors role for many years now but still finds it hard to direct the staff, I tend to say please will you, which Ive been told is not the the best of ways to doing it. Its to do with a lack of confidence, The same thing goes when Im on the forum, I tend to lack confidence to get involved in the discussions. On my apprassils I always say if we aresuppose to be working as a team I should not have to keep asking staff members to do things as we have all worked together for the past 8 years, I only work 3 afternoon sessions a week and I know that some of of staff dont carry out some of the things during my sessions that they do with out being asked on the other 2 suppervisor sessions.

So if you have any good confidence building ideas, may be it will help me as well, I have worked in the same setting for 23 years being 1 of the supervisors for the last 10 years.

I went through a stage of very bad depression a few years back because of this. At the time I working 5 afternoon a week, its mainly 2 members of staff that cause the problems one is a supervisor on the 2 sessions that I dont work know. I decided that I could only cope with working with these two staff members for 1 session a week. I found that Im more relaxed within the setting when they are not in. I didnt realy get much support from the main supervisor/manager, she suggest that I let the other supervisor take over the session but I carry on doing the paper work side.


Lack of confidence supervisor


Rosemarie. :o

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