Coaching supervision in South Africa : comparing current practice against COMENSA guidelines

Dawtrey, Chantal (2015-04)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The Coach and Mentors of South Africa (COMENSA) coach/mentor supervision policy of 2010, which was updated in 2013, aims to convey COMENSA’s official position on coaching supervision as well as inform members about this practice. The policy offers a framework for best practice for coaching supervision and serves as a benchmark against which to compare the goals and competencies of coach supervisors in South Africa. COMENSA’s policy on supervision includes a list of seven goals. The policy further recommends that, throughout the supervisory relationship, the supervisor must be able to demonstrate a range of behaviours and competencies, as well as be able “to pay attention to, work with and balance” the three functions of supervision, namely: developmental, resourcing, and qualitative. Currently it is unknown whether the coach supervisors offering supervision in South Africa actually meet these behaviours, competencies and goals. In addition, it is unknown what qualifications and experience the coach supervisors have and whether their supervision meets the supervisees’ expectations. This study assessed whether coach supervisors in South Africa actually meet the COMENSA supervision policies’ competency requirements and supervision goals and whether these goals and requirements are necessary and sufficient for quality coaching supervision sessions. The study also explored whether coaching supervision met the supervisees’ expectations. The research design was an empirical qualitative study using a multi-method approach involving interviews and documents. The study was interpretive and exploratory in nature. Primary data was sourced through semi-structured interviews with 23 participants comprising five supervisors and 18 supervisees from three regions in South Africa. Secondary data came from the two COMENSA coach/mentor supervision policies (2010 and 2013). The data was analysed using ATLAS.ti. It was found that supervisors focused their goals on learning and support first, then relational dynamics and professional practice issues. In the COMENSA coach/mentor supervision policy the emphasis differs. The policy focuses predominantly on relational dynamics, then learning and professional practice. Supervision as support was mentioned only briefly in two goals. According to the perspective of their supervisees, supervisors were competent in terms of the requirements set out in the COMENSA coach/mentor policies (2010 and 2013) and supervision largely met their expectations. Supervisees identified areas for improvement in supervisor facilitation skills, providing a safe space and stronger contracting. A surprising result emerged with 11 of the 18 supervisees either already using supervision to discuss the business of coaching or wanting this to be an added element of the process. The business of coaching covers topics such as marketing and how to run a practice and is not typically included in coaching supervision. The competency of raising cultural awareness and respecting diversity and difference was not mentioned by any of the participants, a surprising omission given the diverse socio-political environment of South Africa.

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