Sign Up to Receive PHI Alerts

The Difference Between Traditional and Coaching Supervision

By Kezia Scales, PhD (she/her) | September 20, 2018

Editor’s Note: This excerpt is from Growing a Strong Direct Care Workforce: A Recruitment and Retention Guide for Employers.

Across long-term care settings, supervisors play a pivotal role in employee retention. Like direct care workers, supervisors need proper skills training and preparation.

By learning to implement a person-centered “coaching” style of supervision, supervisors can significantly reduce disciplinary actions, boost worker satisfaction, and reduce turnover.

This approach can also improve relationships and care quality. It’s important to note that a coaching style of supervision focuses on supporting workers’ growth while also setting high standards for performance and accountability.

Traditional Supervisors

  • Raise a performance problem.
  • Describe the rules, and explain the consequences of breaking them.
  • Offer or mandate possible solutions.
  • Require compliance, and penalize non-compliance.

Coaching Supervisors

  • Establish a trusting and respectful relationship with the worker.
  • Raise a performance concern.
  • Gather information from the worker’s perspective.
  • Engage the worker in generating possible solutions.
  • Help the worker commit to action steps.


In 2016, the Massachusetts Senior Care Association (MSCA) launched a pilot program in three long-term care systems to examine the effects of the
PHI Coaching Supervision® training on staff stability and satisfaction. PHI’s training emphasizes the core communication skills that are essential to good supervision, including active listening, self-management and self-reflection, and clear, non-judgmental communication.[1]

The outcomes?

Better relationships between supervisors and workers, improved problem-solving, reduced disciplinary actions, better relationships with clients, and a more supportive workplace culture.


How can long-term care providers improve their recruitment and retention? Read our new guide, where you can also find a list of citations.

Kezia Scales, PhD (she/her)
About The Author

Kezia Scales, PhD (she/her)

Vice President of Research & Evaluation
Kezia Scales leads PHI’s strategy for building the evidence base on state and national policies and workforce interventions that improve direct care jobs, elevate this essential workforce, and strengthen care processes and outcomes.

Caring for the Future

Our new policy report takes an extensive look at today's direct care workforce—in five installments.

Workforce Data Center

From wages to employment statistics, find the latest data on the direct care workforce.