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Facilitative Supervision Handbook

Facilitative supervision is a major component of continuous quality improvement (QI) in health services. Facilitative supervision helps supervisors at all levels in an institution focus on the needs of the staff they oversee. Supervisors who use the facilitative approach consider staff to be their customers. This approach emphasizes mentoring, joint problem solving, and two-way communication between a supervisor and those being supervised.

The role of the facilitative supervisor is to set goals, motivate health care staff, and lead them through the process of change required to improve quality and meet clients' needs. The most important part of the facilitative supervisor's role is to enable staff to manage the QI process, so as to meet the needs of their clients and implement institutional goals.

The framework of clients' rights and staff needs for quality services guides site managers, supervisors, and staff in their efforts to improve quality. All QI efforts rely on similar, well-accepted principles: the customer mindset; a focus on processes and systems; staff involvement and ownership; ongoing QI efforts; continuous learning, development, and capacity building; and cost consciousness and efficiency.

EngenderHealth has found that supervisors who possess the following characteristics, skills, and experience are better equipped to become successful facilitative supervisors:

  • Leadership qualities (ability to inspire and motivate others, foster trust, establish a non-threatening environment, and promote team work)
  • Good communication skills, especially active listening and constructive feedback (other skills/techniques needed include appropriate questioning technique, paraphrasing, clarification, and verbal and nonverbal encouragement)
  • A desire to empower others and provide opportunities for growth
  • An ability to work effectively in teams, encouraging different levels of staff to work together, delegate and complete work through others, and manage different personalities
  • Experience delivering reproductive health services
  • Technical knowledge
  • Flexibility
  • Openness to new ideas
  • Ability to train and coach or convey information to others
  • Empathy

The Facilitative Supervision Handbook helps supervisors to develop such skills. The handbook includes descriptions of the facilitative approach to supervision and the roles and characteristics of facilitative supervisors in involving staff in the QI process, leading staff through change, creating a nonthreatening environment, and helping staff use data for decision making.

You can download the entire handbook in six pieces, using the links below.

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