A Trauma-Informed Approach to Supportive Supervision

 In Series on trauma-informed care, Videos

Supervisors play a key role in ensuring that trauma-informed practices are used throughout an organization.

Supervisors are leaders. When treated and supported as such, supervisors help set the tone for the culture of an organization.

Supervisors can be trained and held responsible for upholding the 5 principles of a trauma-informed approach.

The 5 principles of a trauma-informed culture are: safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness, and empowerment.

Supervisors ensure safety by making sure those they supervise are trained in best practices around physical and psychological safety and support.

Supervisors create choice by offering as many pathways as possible to achieving goals for their employees. If there are multiple ways to get the work done, allow for those options.

Supervisors develop a culture of collaboration by allowing employees to be part of the planning process for their work responsibilities.

Supervisors must follow-through and be consistent with their communication and plans in order to develop trustworthiness with their employees and organizational leadership.

This involves creating manageable plans and commitments.

Supervisors probably have the most opportunities in an organization to contribute to empowerment.

For example, evaluation, when performed effectively, contributes to empowerment and can help ensure best practices.

Effective evaluation includes two-way feedback loops where all members of the team are evaluated, creating comfortable and safe communication space, frequent and consistent feedback, and goal setting and reflection prior to meeting.

Even corrective feedback creates empowerment when pathways to success are supported for employees.

In addition, when it is appropriate, help employees understand the “why” of the work they contribute to and are responsible for.

Remember that supervision spans many levels at an organization. We can’t hold frontline managers accountable without the same accountability measures for upper level management.
A trauma-informed organization will support supervisors in this effort by appropriately allocating resources and building capacity when needed.

In what ways could you promote a trauma-informed approach to supervision in your organization?

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