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Essential professional competencies of social work supervisors an a non-profit welfare organisation

Parker, Lorien (2017-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Social work supervisors who possess essential professional competencies will have a positive influence on their supervisee, the organisation, and the end service user. They bring about professional growth and change, which encourages the development and maturity of the social worker, resulting in optimum practice. These are key responsibilities of the supervisor, who should be competent to offer supervision at a level that is beneficial to the ecosystem of supervision within the organisation. According to South African policy documents, social work supervisors should be competent to fulfil the expectations and requirements of their position. This implies that supervisors are equipped for their position as social work supervisors, and that they possess the skills, knowledge and experience that are critical for social work supervisors. However, the literature reveals that supervisors are not well prepared for their position, they do not receive training prior to their appointment, and there is no focus on the identification or development of their competencies. There are no policy documents or research papers that explore the essential professional competencies of supervisors. This aspect is critical to examine further, as there is an identified need in South African policy documents to increase the retention and quality of services of social workers, and competent supervisors can contribute significantly to solving this problem. A competent supervisor will lead to a competent supervisee, thus benefitting the organisation and the service user. This study explored and described the essential professional competencies of social work supervisors in a non-profit welfare organisation. This was done by examining which competencies are deemed essential for supervisors, and how they are implemented or experienced. By exploring a conceptual framework for supervisors in South Africa and considering a model and definition of competence within the context, the development and importance of professional competencies could be better understood and explored. An instrumental case study design was deemed the most appropriate design for the research, as it provided a clear context for the research topic to be explored. The study further assumed an exploratory and descriptive research design in order to provide a detailed description of the phenomenon being studied, namely the essential professional competencies of social work supervisors. A qualitative approach was used in the study in order to explore the topic at hand, as it was complementary to the explorative and descriptive research design. Data was gathered Stellenbosch University by means of a semi-structured interview schedule, which was administered during individual face-to-face or telephonic interviews. This allowed for data to be gathered that provided a rich description of the research topic. The design of the semi-structured interview schedule was based on the information obtained from the literature review chapters. The findings from the empirical investigation reveal that the two main categories in which supervisors should be competent are foundational and functional competencies. Foundational competencies include four subthemes, namely that supervisors should be competent in: emotional intelligence; anti-discriminatory supervisory practices; professional relationships; and ethical practices and legal knowledge. The functional competencies focused on three main subthemes, namely that supervisors should be competent in: balancing the three supervision functions (administration, education and support); implementing the supervision process; and possessing specific managerial competencies for the non-profit organisation (NPO) sector. The findings indicate that supervisors are not fully equipped for their position, and that they require training and equipping in order to understand and implement the competencies that are essential for their practice. Furthermore, the findings show that supervisors have a high workload, they are responsible for a large number of staff, and their supervisory responsibilities are often over-shadowed by structural issues. Supervisors in South Africa need to be competent in balancing their supervision responsibilities alongside the middle management responsibilities that they are expected to bear. Recommendations were made on four of the systems involved in supervision. Specific recommendations were made for each theme, subtheme and category. The general recommendations focus on: supervisors prioritising their competencies and creating opportunities to practise them and improve in them; organisations needing to emphasise the importance of professional competencies, specify them in supervisors’ job descriptions and encourage opportunities for competencies to be learnt and practised; training institutions needing to offer more training in foundational and functional competencies, on both an undergraduate and postgraduate level; and finally, ethical and legal bodies needing to incorporate competencies into policy documents and to facilitate national development programmes to operationalise foundational and functional competencies.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Maatskaplike werk supervisors wat die noodsaaklike professionele bevoegdhede het, sal ’n positiewe invloed op hulle werker, die organisasie en die eindverbruiker van die diens hê. Hulle veroorsaak professionele groei en verandering, wat die ontwikkeling en volwassewording van die maatskaplike werker aanmoedig en lei tot optimale praktyk. Hierdie is sleutelverantwoordelikhede van die supervisor, wat bevoeg moet wees om supervisie aan te bied op ’n vlak wat voordelig is vir die ekosisteem van toesighouding binne die organisasie. In terme van Suid-Afrikaanse beleidsdokumente moet maatskaplike werk supervisors bevoeg wees om aan die verwagtinge en vereistes van hulle posisie te voldoen. Dít impliseer dat supervisors toegerus is vir hulle posisie as maatskaplike werk supervisors, en dat hulle die vaardighede, kennis en ervaring het wat belangrik is vir maatskaplike werk supervisors. Die literatuur toon egter dat supervisors nie goed voorberei is vir die posisie nie, dat hulle nie vóór hulle aanstelling opleiding ontvang nie en dat daar geen fokus is op die identifisering of ontwikkeling van hulle bevoegdhede nie. Daar is geen beleidsdokumente of navorsingspublikasies wat die noodsaaklike professionele bevoegdhede van supervisors ondersoek nie. Dit is van kritiese belang dat hierdie aspek verder ondersoek word, aangesien ’n behoefte in Suid-Afrikaanse beleidsdokumente uitgespreek word dat die behoud en kwaliteit van dienste van maatskaplike werkers verhoog moet word, en bevoegde supervisors sal kan bydra tot die oplossing van hierdie probleem. ’n Bevoegde supervisor sal lei tot ’n bevoegde werker, wat dus die organisasie en die diensgebruiker sal bevoordeel. Hierdie studie het die noodsaaklike professionele bevoegdhede van maatskaplike werk supervisors in ’n organisasie sonder winsmotief ondersoek en beskryf. Dit is gedoen deur ondersoek in te stel na die bevoegdhede wat as noodsaaklik vir supervisors beskou word en hoe hulle geïmplementeer of ervaar word. Deur ’n konseptuele raamwerk vir supervisors in Suid-Afrika te ondersoek en ’n model en definisie van bevoegdheid binne hierdie konteks te oorweeg, sal die ontwikkeling en belang van professionele bevoegdhede beter begryp en verken kan word. ’n Instrumentele gevallestudie-ontwerp is beskou as die gepaste ontwerp vir die navorsing, aangesien dit ’n duidelike konteks vir die navorsingsonderwerp wat ondersoek word, verskaf. Die studie gebruik verder ’n verkennende en beskrywende navorsingsontwerp om ’n gedetailleerde beskrywing van die fenomeen wat bestudeer word, te kan verskaf, naamlik die Stellenbosch University noodsaaklike professionele bevoegdhede van maatskaplike werk supervisors. ’n Kwalitatiewe benadering is in die studie gebruik om die onderwerp te verken, aangesien dit die verkennende en beskrywende navorsingsontwerp komplementeer. Data is versamel deur middel van ’n semi-gestruktureerde onderhoudskedule wat van individuele aangesig-tot-aangesig of telefoniese onderhoude gebruik gemaak het. Hierdeur was dit moontlik om data te versamel wat ’n ryk beskrywing van die navorsingsonderwerp verskaf het. Die ontwerp van die semi-gestruktureerde onderhoudskedule is gebaseer op inligting wat in die literatuurondersoek verkry is. Die bevindings van die empiriese ondersoek toon aan dat die twee vernaamste kategorieë waarin supervisors bevoeg moet wees, fundamentele en funksionele bevoegdhede is. Fundamentele bevoegdhede sluit vier subtemas in, naamlik dat supervisors bevoeg moet wees in: emosionele intelligensie; nie-diskriminerende supervisiepraktyke; professionele verhoudings; en etiese praktyke en regskennis. Die funksionele bevoegdhede het op drie subtemas gefokus, naamlik dat supervisors bevoeg moet wees in: balansering van die drie supervisiesfunksies (administrasie, opvoeding en ondersteuning); implementering van die supervisieproses; en besit van spesifieke bestuursbevoegdhede vir die sektor waarin die organisasie sonder winsmotief voorkom. Die bevindings dui aan dat supervisors nie volledige vir hulle posisie toegerus is nie en dat hulle opleiding en toerusting benodig om die bevoegdhede wat vir hulle praktyk noodsaaklik is, te begryp en te implementeer. Die bevindinge toon verder dat supervisors ’n groot werkslas het, dat hulle vir ’n groot getal personeel verantwoordelik is en dat hulle toesighoudende verantwoordelikhede gereeld deur strukturele kwessies oorskadu word. Supervisors in Suid-Afrika moet bevoeg wees in die balansering van hulle supervisie verantwoordelikhede saam met die middelbestuursverantwoordelikhede wat van hulle verwag word. Aanbevelings is gemaak oor vier van die stelsels wat in supervisie betrokke is. Spesifieke aanbevelings is vir elke tema, subtema en kategorie gemaak. Die algemene aanbevelings fokus op: dat supervisors hulle bevoegdhede prioritiseer en geleenthede skep om hulle te beoefen en te verbeter; dat organisasies die belangrikheid van professionele bevoegdhede moet benadruk, hulle in die supervisors se posbeskrywings moet spesifiseer en geleenthede moet aanmoedig vir bevoegdhede om geleer en beoefen te word; dat opleidingsinstellings meer opleiding in fundamentele en funksionele bevoegdhede moet aanbied, op die voorgraadse en nagraadse vlak; en laastens, dat etiese en wetlike liggame bevoegdhede in hulle beleidsdokumente moet Stellenbosch University insluit en nasionale ontwikkelingsprogramme fasiliteer om fundamentele en funksionele bevoegdhede te operasionaliseer.

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