Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Personnel Development and Supervision (PA-PDS) 4: Supervision

Supervision supports personnel development, retention, and improved outcomes.


Unless otherwise noted, the standards in this section apply to supervisors at all levels including middle managers who support front-line supervisors.
2020 Edition




The agency supports personnel and promotes personnel competence, satisfaction, and retention by providing initial and ongoing competency-based training; a variety of personnel development opportunities; and regular, supportive supervision.
Note: Supervisory responsibilities should be delineated in the written supervision framework submitted in PA-PDS 3.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions: exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement.
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented. 
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.

Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  

  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.  
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.  
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed administration and management infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
No Self-Study Evidence
County/Municipality Administered Agency, State Administered Agency (Central Office), or other Public Entity
  • Documentation of supervision or supervision logs 
  • Sample job descriptions of supervisors from each program or service (i.e. front line, managers, department directors)
State Administered Agency (Regional Office)
  • Documentation of individual supervision 
  • Documentation of regional activities or practices related to mitigating work-related stress
All Agencies
  • Interviews may include: 
    1. Supervisors
    2. Agency field personnel

PA-PDS 4.01

Supervisors have sufficient time to:
  1. provide regularly scheduled supervision and conduct evaluation and training activities as outlined in the agency’s supervision framework; and
  2. offer flexible support in response to crisis situations or urgent needs.


Supervisors should maintain an administrative file with up-to-date documentation of each supervisory session, including the date and duration of each session as well as a brief outline or summary of what was discussed.

PA-PDS 4.02

Supervisors’ administrative functions include:
  1. delegating and overseeing work assignments; and
  2. ensuring that service delivery is performed according to the agency’s mission, policies and procedures, and applicable law and regulation. 

PA-PDS 4.03

Supervisors promote a supportive culture of continuous learning across all levels of the agency by:
  1. consistently recognizing the strengths and accomplishments of personnel;
  2. framing errors as opportunities for growth and continued learning;
  3. promoting knowledge acquisition and skill development through various professional development opportunities; 
  4. assisting personnel in transferring the skills and knowledge obtained in the classroom to their work in the field; and
  5. facilitating opportunities for personnel to learn from one another’s successes.
Examples: Professional development opportunities can include a mix of formal training or education, peer support, mentoring, consultation, and coaching.  

Examples: Regarding element (d), supervisors can support knowledge transference by:
  1. working with personnel to identify the most appropriate trainings for their position;
  2. clarifying the purpose and relevance of the training before it is delivered; 
  3. following up with personnel to establish a plan for incorporating acquired skills and knowledge into their work, including setting performance goals and methods for tracking progress when appropriate; 
  4. modeling appropriate practice and/or establishing mentorships with more experienced colleagues; and
  5. observing practice in the field accompanied by constructive feedback.  

PA-PDS 4.04

Supervisors address the social and emotional needs of personnel through:
  1. adherence to agency policy and procedures that promote worker safety; and
  2. activities or practices designed to prevent, recognize, and respond to work-related stress.


Supervision must go beyond task supervision to address the social and emotional needs of workers, including the risk of indirect trauma exposure.
Examples: Activities or practices that can prevent, recognize and respond to work-related stress include, but are not limited to:
  1. training supervisors and workers on the potential impacts of work-related stress and prevention strategies;
  2. reflective supervision;
  3. peer support including self-care groups, supervision, mentoring, and group processing;
  4. encouraging personnel to utilize vacation time;
  5. offering flex time arrangements;
  6. informal and formal assessment tools;
  7. managing work assignments to avoid heavy caseloads of traumatized individuals; and
  8. providing access to employee assistance programs. 

PA-PDS 4.05

Supervisors provide additional support to personnel when they are: 
  1. new;
  2. developing competencies, including personnel who have not yet obtained professional licensure or certification; 
  3. experiencing challenging circumstances with the individuals and families or staff they work with; or
  4. experiencing higher caseloads.


The suicide attempt or death of a service recipient can be a traumatic experience for staff. To help staff process the loss of a service recipient to suicide, voluntary, non-judgmental support services should be made available to help personnel grieve and prepare for future contact with individuals at risk for suicide.
Examples: Examples of additional support that might be needed by personnel include, but are not limited to: 
  1. more frequent supervision;
  2. additional training opportunities;
  3. shadowing; and
  4. voluntary crisis response services.