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Supervisor wellness: How to avoid becoming a swamp monster

Posted By Grace Konyar, Graduate Resident Director, Ohio University, Monday, August 27, 2018


One of the perks about summer in ResLife is that you are able to focus on your office work and your plans for the following year.  If you are anything like me, you may have decided you were going to completely revamp your year and become the best supervisor there ever was.  Have you done that?  I have.  For two years.  You know what else I have done these past two years?  Become incredibly stressed and overwhelmed.  So much so that my organized, put-together aura became more swamp monster-esqe.  Clearly, I was not focusing on my wellness as a supervisor.


Me, a swamp monster.


So now that you have a nice visual of me, I am going to provide you with some helpful tips for supervisor wellness!


The more individualized you are, the more stress you will have.

When I start planning out my supervision style for the year, I often get it in my head that completely individualizing supervisions with each staff member is a great idea.  While personalizing each supervision makes you seem like an AMAZING supervisor, it also creates a lot of stress for you.  It requires a great deal of planning, preparation, and thought.  The best way to incorporate personalized supervision into your work is to have a standard model for all staff members and make small adjustments from there.  AKA set some boundaries for yourself on what you are willing to do for your staff during supervisions.  It evens out your balancing act and creates some consistency in your schedule. 


Plan for things to not go your way.

One of my favorite things to do is overplan.  I plan out when I am going to bake little treats for my staff, when I am going to distribute information, and when I am going to implement certain teambuilders.  This obviously does not end well for me.  Either I get bogged down with work and class, or my students do.  Luckily, this is built into my plan.  I’ve learned to stop micromanaging my work life, and start opening up my schedule to various possibilities.  One of the keys to this is having a list of things you would like to do at some point throughout the year.  This allows you the flexibility to move activities around or to say “meh, I don’t think I have time to get to that this month.”  It is okay to readjust and take some of your ideas out of the mix.  It does not make you a bad supervisor.


Practice what you preach.

We ALL tell our student staff to practice self care and use their away days from campus.  But do we do the same?  I have found myself responding to problems in my building despite the fact that there is a pro-staff member on duty.  I have also found myself getting texts and calls from student staff members late at night because they too forget that I do not work 24/7.  Something I learned last year:  If I don’t model proper work/life balance, my staff will assume that I am always on call.  Sometimes being a good supervisor means that you do not respond to every call because you are taking time off for yourself.  If I have done my job correctly, my staff should know who to call and understand why I am taking time off.


Don’t be a pushover. Know your limits.

Housing people LOVE to say yes.  Even when we are slowly being engulfed in hours of work, we will still say yes.  Whether it is to our staff, to our department, or to the division, saying yes comes naturally.  IT ALSO MAKES YOUR LIFE STRESSFUL.  Before you say yes to adding something else to your schedule, really take a moment to ask yourself if you can realistically devote enough time to that project to create your best work.  Sometimes it is important to remind others that you have a lot on your plate and need to create balance.


All of these tips I have learned from personal experience.  Honestly, you have probably dealt with the similar problems, but you don’t want to admit that you are putting that stress on yourself.  Don’t worry, I do that all the time.  It’s the reason I wake up looking like a swamp monster.  However, I am also lucky enough to work with students who look at me and say, “You look terrible.  Go do something fun for yourself.”  It’s great!  I’m pretty sure they do it because my swamp monster look haunts their nightmares, but it works! So my last tip for you is...


Make sure that demand for self care goes both ways.

We push our staff members to take care of themselves and they listen to us because we work so closely together.  Why shouldn’t that go the other way?  Our students help make us better supervisors.  Not only because they challenge us, but also because they are willing to be brutally honest with us.  They know us at our best and our worst because they see us nearly everyday.  Listen to them

Tags:  #wellness #SAPro #SAGrad #GLACUHO #H_W #supervisio 

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