Two words often go hand-in-hand when discussing student affairs supervision: challenge and support. The challenge component refers to how supervisors set expectations, encourage their supervisees to grow, even when it’s uncomfortable, and give feedback on a regular basis. The support component refers to helping supervisees work through issues and decisions, address their areas needing improvement and reach their goals, with care and compassion.

You never want to skew your approach, so consider how you can provide equitable levels of both challenge and support as an effective supervisor. For example…

Challenge: “I’d like to see you giving your supervisees more specific praise so they can better understand what it is that they’re doing well and that you’re thanking them for. They’re more likely to feel valued and to repeat those positive behaviors as a result.”

Support: “Let’s role-play a few ways that you can give that kind of specific praise. We can both give examples.”

Learn more about supervision strategies like this one, as well as 17 other topics from student development to supporting students’ well-being to executive functioning, DEI and belonging efforts, understanding the student affairs context you’re working in, compliance concerns and much more in our NEW How to Thrive in Student Affairs: Self-Directed Courses for New Professionals guide.