Part 1 of my two part blog considered the SRA’s new competency based CPD regime, identification of training needs and the importance of a proactive performance management (appraisal) system. Proactive, constructive and regular supervision are key skills in effective performance management and the delivery of high standards of client care.

The issue of effective supervision has been an important but recurring theme in recent years, especially following the introduction of outcomes based regulation in 2011. When something goes wrong the first step is to establish why the immediate supervisor/senior line management has not picked up the issue before it became a problem or complaint.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines supervision as ‘the action or process of watching and directing what someone does or how something is done’.

Training for Tomorrow and the Competence Statement refer to the needs and skills of qualified solicitors but the broader SRA Code of Conduct does, of course, cover all staff. Accordingly, I interpret supervision as the provision of guidance to a more junior member of staff. In most law firms, therefore, the majority of qualified staff supervise on a day-to-day basis. How well they undertake that supervision can dramatically affect the efficiency of teams and individuals.

The new competency based CPD regime adds a further and new dimension to this trend. When something goes wrong the following areas will now, in particular, come under immediate focus:

  • whether the individual had the necessary skills or knowledge;
  • why those skills or knowledge were not applied in the particular case;
  • was there a breakdown in supervision; and
  • in the more extreme cases, why had the individual been signed off as competent?

In Part 1 we identified that an effective performance management system would assist in identifying development needs but any process can only be as good as the supervisors and line managers who are involved in conducting it.

So what should law firms do to ensure that supervisory standards are of a high standard now and remain so in the future?

  • Audit the current standards of supervision and line management. This should look at systems (such as file reviews), activity and attitudes in practice (i.e. lip service through to effective supervision) and the skills of the supervisors and intermediary line managers.
  • Have a programme of interlinked supervision/management skills training that provides guidance and support to individuals at appropriate stages in their individual career progression.

Pegasus Professional Development has the expertise to assist with reviewing and developing your supervisory talent as well as supporting the introduction of the new SRA CPD competency based regime.

Kevin Chard

Tel: 01264 361127

Mob: 07741 479791