Supervision or one to one

I believe that one to ones are very important for staff to be able to develop and succeed in their roles. But they tend to be very work and issue focussed (around current projects and initiatives) and less about the actual person.

When I am in a position where I am people managing a team I like to introduce supervision sessions alongside one to ones. A weekly meeting alternating between one to one and supervision. But what is the difference?

So what is the difference?

One to Ones

This time is focussed on work and objectives. Time to discuss and prioritise workload, give any updates or information that needs passing on. A real focus on the here and now, I use a this time/next time methodology. We talk about what has been achieved since we last met, what is your main focus for the next two weeks. Are there any issues that I can help with, anything you need/want to flag up to me?

We also cover equipment, relationships, holidays, sickness and any training or development needs. Depending on the role we will talk about professional registrations and any work, training or sign offs required to maintain those. Once a month will pick up on PDR objectives to ensure that we are on track.

The basic format I follow is:
Achieved since last meeting
Issues affecting performance/delivery
Focus/Priorities for next period
Updates for management/organisation
Anything to raise/discuss from colleagues perspective

This is all quite fluid and depending on person and what they are working on the order will change, but all items will be covered. These sessions are all recorded, with a formal write up shared (by me) after the meeting, which is then agreed by my colleague. This record forms the basis of the ‘since last meeting’ discussion.


These sessions are informal, undocumented and all about my colleague. Part way between coaching, mentoring and counselling. There is no set agenda, but there are some points to cover. These are you, development and goals.

Personally I really enjoy these sessions, but there has to be a level of trust between the participants, the knowledge that the conversation is confidential and will not affect the working relationship.

The main reason for this is the topics for discussion all come from the colleague. They drive the sessions and set the tone and agenda, but more importantly their share their goals.

This could be that they are looking for a promotion, or a move to another team, and so would like to try and gain some expertise and exposure in a certain area. This may need you to facilitate an introduction, set up some shadowing, or look at available courses.

They may wish to undertake a change in direction, and need some accredited training courses in order to do this. They may also be perfectly happy to stay in the role that they are in but just hope for a little extra challenge or stretch to be added.

It is essential that these sessions stay focussed on the person and their direction. Tempting as it is to discuss work issues and projects, these sessions need pulling back to their purpose.

Initially it can feel uncomfortable until you are both comfortable with the rhythm of the sessions. These should endeavour to be more coaching that mentoring, with questioning and goal setting.


Are you now thinking of your practice?
Will you make changes to how you manage your time with your colleagues?
At the least, why not take this to your next one to ones and suggest it as a method?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s