We achieve great things when we listen, connect and communicate clearly together. There is real attention to each other, and surprisingly creative ideas are often raised.
Do you, together with your colleagues, want to take an earnest look at the way in which you operate on the work floor? Are you in need of a quiet place where you and your co-workers/professional colleagues, can discuss challenging issues in confidence? Or do you, as an organisation, want your employees to reflect better on their work, learn to ask themselves questions or find each other in case of problems?
The word intervision (or peer review) is increasingly thought of as being the way to professionalise yourself on the work floor.
But what is intervision?
Intervision is a method to learn from each other in regards to everyday work issues. This is done with a group of colleagues and peers in a self-managing, but structured way. The methodical approach, focused on first exploring the question before giving advice, strengthens the communication and strategic skills of the participants and utilises the diversity of the group.
Through good conditions and principles a sense of trust and safety is created, in which participants optimally reflect on an introduced issue, discuss vulnerabilities and devise new actions. Intervision can therefore be seen as a specific form of professional development.
To participants, intervision also means a moment of peace and reflection in a work environment that is often subject to constant change and sudden demands on everyone’s adaptability.
Intervision is valuable because it strives towards a culture of trust at relatively low cost because it is an element of a learning organisation. The participants will learn to explore the principles of their professional behaviour and to determine whether those principles are still useful, or need to be adapted.
To get the desired results from intervision, it is necessary that it takes place in a structured and careful manner. Effective intervision processes therefore require a disciplined approach, knowledge of the group process and an attitude of deferred judgment and advice. Otherwise there is a risk that the meetings will have little structure, lack depth or unintentionally place the emphasis on “safe and cosy”. Also, other organisational goals can be confused with intervision, making intervision no longer a proper place for proper reflection. Good intervision therefore requires the use of certain knowledge and skills. These can all be learned.
Happy is he who has come to know the causes of things - Vergilius
The following examples come from an unruly intervision practice, taken directly from the work floor. It seems the principles are not handled properly. Recognisable? Supervised intervision can provide a solution.
- Our intervision group is more like a social gathering, and doesn’t really address work problems.
- Our intervision group has little structure. We often don’t know where things are heading during a session.
- My manager is also part of my intervision group. That often keeps me from speaking my mind.
- Attendance is highly variable in my intervision group. This reduces the motivation.
- If I input a case in my intervision group, I am often overwhelmed with advice. I feel judged by others.
- I would like to try another intervision method.
- When I lead an intervision session, I find it very difficult.
- The participants do not feel safe in the intervision group. How did that happen?
- I don’t know how to stimulate reflection and create the peaceful atmosphere to properly explore the case at hand.
You and your colleagues start with intervision in your organisation. Several peer groups may be formed, each one existing of between 5 and 8 participants. The participants are already sufficiently acquainted with various intervision methods and train the necessary skills to carry out intervision properly. You can think of skills like asking questions, reflection, analysing problems, deferred judgment and advice, exploring the perspective of the participant and giving feedback.
Face to face and online
After several face to face sessions, guided intervision may also take place online and be interspersed with face to face meetings. This way, intervision may also include employees or colleagues that are located on a physical distance. The process can continue and may even turn out to be more effective.
Guided and unguided
The possibility also exists to teach the intervision group to hold meetings independently (without the presence of the trainer). To learn this, accompanied and unaccompanied meetings can be alternated. The ultimate goal is that you can work with the other participants independently. After six meetings, the intervision group can continue on its own.
In most cases, however, it is necessary that the group has meetings with the facilitator on a regular basis to keep the quality high. This is especially true for online intervision, which almost always requires an external facilitator.
If you, as an organisation, wish to implement intervision, I can discuss with you the conditions which must be met for intervision to be a successful instrument. Following these conditions, the best approach for your specific situation can be determined.
Your organisation may also choose to train a number of staff as intervision counsellors. They must meet specific quality requirements. The designated staff should have experience as supervisors of reflective learning. A training course can be implemented if necessary.
Intervision Train the Trainer
During a two-day training course, the pre-selected group within your organisation is acquainted with a structured way of intervision. The goal is to teach them the principles of intervision and the necessary conditions for the establishment of an intervision group. This is done on the basis of theory and the participation in a number of intervision rounds where different methodologies are used. Participants will learn what is important in leading intervision sessions. They practice with watching the group dynamic processes during peer review sessions. They also practice as a facilitator.
Experience with guided intervision and peer methods is gained through exploring personal cases and those of the other participants. After the first day follows a practice period with guided intervision, after which follows a reunion day. During this day, troublesome aspects are discussed in the intervision practice, also with the participants in a supporting role.
Guidance and advice
After this training, the intervision counsellors can be further supported to continue to guarantee the quality of the intervision process in your organisation. For example, you can opt for regular guided intervision meetings. In these, new methods can be used, or issues from intervision practice can be discussed.
More open consultation meetings for the intervision counsellors are also a possibility.