Extra Resources: P 105 Supervising Youth Workers


Why bother with induction?

  • Introduce new employee to values and philosophy of the church/agency/project
  • Familiarise employee with policies and practices of the church/agency/project
  • Help people become more effective more quickly
  • Identify and address any potential problems

What to try and cover in an induction programme:

  • Conditions of employment and specifics of the job description
  • The structure, management, organization and activities of the church/agency/project, including procedures for communication and supervision arrangements
  • The layout of the office/plant and procedures for using equipment, post, etc
  • Employee facilities, welfare arrangements, etc
  • Data protection practice and policy
  • Policies and procedures of the church/agency/project, including child protection and health and safety
  • Equal opportunities policies and practices
  • Learning new tasks, activities or skills necessary for the job
  • Get to know fellow workers and key officers
  • Be introduced to appropriate networks
  • Understand the organizational culture and local customs such as what happens on birthdays or at Christmas
  • Begin to feel part of the church/agency/project
  • Build confidence in the employee


It can be helpful to devise a contract for supervision, so that both parties are working to the same understanding and expectations.

  1. Purpose
    Identify management, education, support and mediation issues for the specific context. (A fuller outline of the importance and meaning of these terms for supervision is found in chapter 5 of this Grove booklet)
  2. Confidentiality
    Trust is important, but need to bear in mind accountability. Good practice suggests that confidentiality is never broken without informing the supervisee.
  3. Boundaries
    What can or cannot be discussed in sessions?
  4. Timing
    How frequently does supervision happen? How long are the sessions?
  5. Place
    Where is it appropriate to hold supervision?
  6. Cancellation
    Supervision should have a very high priority. Cancellations should only happen rarely and the session should normally be rearranged.
  7. Preparation
    What preparation will each party make? Does anyone need any information in advance, if so, how much in advance?
  8. Format
    What shape will the supervision session take?
  9. Recording
    Who will take notes of decisions made in supervision? Who will keep them? When/how will they be shared? Where are they stored?
  10. Review
    When and how frequently will supervision be reviewed?


  1. How are things generally?
    Open question to help both parties get into the session.
  2. Looking at the work
    Share information, identify problems, plan ahead
  3. Specific issues
    Either party may have specific issues they wish to discuss
  4. Relationships
    Are there any relationship issues that need addressing?
  5. Priorities
    What are the priorities for the next period of time?
  6. Training
    Have any training needs been identified?
  7. Anything not covered elsewhere in the session
    Opportunity for either side to raise something they need to
  8. Recording
    Agree and note action points and priorities
  9. Next meeting
    Arrange or confirm next meeting


  • Supervisor responsibility:
  • Ensure a safe place
  • Be supportive, encouraging and open
  • Help Youth Worker explore and clarify thinking and feelings
  • Share experience, information and skill appropriately
  • Challenge practice which appears unethical, unwise or incompetent
  • Challenge personal or professional blind spots
  • Be aware of the wider context of supervision eg church/agency/project, young people, colleagues (paid and voluntary), community
  • Be aware of the wider framework and aims of the Youth Worker post

Supervisee responsibility:

  • Identify their own needs and make it clear what they need and expect from supervision
  • Be open and share information
  • Identify what sort of responses they want
  • Aim to meet church/agency/project, legal, ethical and professional standards
  • Accept appropriate responsibility for their own performance
  • Participate in evaluation and problem-solving
  • Reflect, think through and explore options

Responsibilities of both supervisor and supervisee:

  • Prepare for supervision
  • Make supervision a priority and be punctual
  • Share responsibility for making supervision work
  • Be open to feedback
  • Monitor tendencies to justify, explain or defend
  • Not to collude with each other
  • Maintain confidentiality within agreed boundaries

Potential anxieties in supervision
In supervisor:

  • Wants to be helpful and constructive
  • Wants what they say to be seen as informative
  • Fear of their own limitations being exposed
  • Fear of rejection
  • Concern that their own methods and attitudes may be challenged

In supervisee:

  • Feels supervision is a threat to their independence and autonomy
  • Anxious about expressing lack of knowledge and vulnerability
  • Fear of not meeting supervisor’s expectations

(adapted from Hawkins and Shohet, Morrison and Thompson - references in Grove booklet and below)


  • There is a commitment to lifelong learning and continuous professional development.
  • An individual induction programme for each new worker will be drawn up, involving visits, placement and time to network, understand the local situation, establish appropriate supervision and pastoral support mechanisms and follow church/agency/project induction guidelines.
  • An initial training review and needs analysis will be carried out. Annual reviews of training needs will be undertaken. Each worker has a budget to meet their identified personal training needs. Long-term goals of the worker to be considered in identifying training opportunities.
  • Workers attend one conference annually where they can meet their peers for input, mutual support, etc.
  • Provision should be made for retreats, spiritual input and pastoral support in work time to an agreed number of hours/days.
  • Workers to be able to keep up to date in their field through reading relevant books and magazines, accessing web sites, etc, and specified time to be given to this.
  • An in-service training programme to be drawn up for staff and volunteers for the church/agency/project.
  • Budget provision should be made for training at church/agency/project level in line with the above policy.


Adirondack, Sandy (1992). Just about Managing? London: London Voluntary Service Council.
Hawkins, Peter and Shohet, Robin (2000). Supervision in the Helping Professions. Buckingham: OU Press.
Helm, Nick and Allin, Philip (Eds) (2002). Finding Support in Ministry. Cambridge: Grove.
Ingram, Gina and Harris, Jean (2001). Delivering Good Youth Work. Lyme Regis: Russell House.
Morrison, Tony (1997). Staff Supervision in Social Care. Brighton: Pavilion.
Thompson, Neil (1996). People Skills. London: Macmillan


Click on the link below to download Good Practice Guidelines for Supervision - used with permisson of Gill Millar and the Regional Youth Work Unit at Learning South West:

Implementing Consistent Supervision in Youth Work Settings : Good Practice Guidelines (Word document)

Author: Sally Nash

Sally has worked with Youth for Christ for over 20 years in training and supporting youth workers, and is now Director of the Midlands Centre for Youth Ministry based at St John's Nottingham. She enjoys walking and good food (often combined), plays golf and supports Spurs.

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