In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Synergistic Supervision, Job Satisfaction, and Intention to Turnover of New Professionals in Student Affairs
  • Ashley Tull (bio)

New professionals leave the field of student affairs administration every year. One common reason for this attrition is job dissatisfaction. Job dissatisfaction can result from role ambiguity, role conflict, role orientation, role stress, job burnout, work overload, and perceived opportunities for goal attainment, professional development, and career advancement (Berwick, 1992; Conley, 2001). Brown (1987) stated that high attrition indicated low morale and this "demands constant training of new professionals" (p. 14). Creamer and Winston (2002a) stated that one of the principal factors for attrition is the quality of supervision received in the first one or two jobs. Effective supervision of new professionals is one way that the profession can reduce the propensity of new professionals to leave.

The culture of an organization, particularly in higher education, has the potential to influence a new professional's retention in the job setting. New professionals encounter a host of issues with entry into the profession (Ellis, 2002; Hamrick & Hemphill, 2002; Marsh ,2001) and need orientation and socialization both to their field of work and to their employing institution (Amey, 1990, 2002; Katz & Tushman, 1983). An effective model of supervision that provides the necessary orientation and socialization to student affairs and higher education is one way to reduce the attrition of new professionals.

Both the orientation and socialization processes help the new professional in adjusting to the work and culture of student affairs organizations in higher education (Amey, 1990, 2002; Harned & Murphy, 1998). Socialization can be defined as a new professional's introduction and assimilation into student affairs work. This should include a focus on appropriate behaviors, values, and relationships that are judged to be an intrinsic part of the professional culture. The success or failure of new professionals has been attributed to the social support that is received within the organization (Amey, 1990, 2002; Katz & Tushman, 1983; Scher & Barr, 1979). The inability of supervisors to provide the necessary support and reassurance to new professionals through the orientation and socialization processes can hamper the development of new professionals (Harned & Murphy; Rosen, Taube, & Wadsworth, 1980).

The orientation of new professionals has been described as more of a process than an event (Saunders & Cooper, 2003). The orientation process should provide new professionals with information about procedures, organizational culture, and personal and professional expectations (Flion & Pepermans, 1998). Many supervisors have not given the orientation process the attention that it deserves (Winston, Torres, Carpenter, McIntire, & Peterson, 2001).

Staff supervision is one of the most complex activities for which organizational leaders are responsible, and certain skills and knowledge about staff development are required for effective supervision. Winston and Creamer (1997) defined supervision in higher [End Page 465] education as "a management function intended to promote the achievement of institutional goals and enhance the personal and professional capabilities of staff. Supervision interprets the institutional mission and focuses human and fiscal resources on the promotion of individual and organizational competence" (p. 42).

Synergistic Staff Supervision

Synergistic staff supervision is focused on a holistic approach to supervision. Winston and Creamer (1997), when describing synergistic supervision, concluded that it is related to "(a) discussion of exemplary performance, (b) discussion of long-term career goals, (c) discussion of inadequate performance, (d) frequency of informal performance appraisals, and (e) discussion of personal attitudes" (pp. 42-43). The synergistic model allows supervisors the ability to clarify expectations through discussion of performance and informal appraisals (Winston & Creamer, 1998). The model also results in better organizational communication between the supervisor and professional. Therefore, those new professionals in student affairs administration engaged in a synergistic supervisory relationship may have greater job satisfaction and perceived opportunities for professional development and advancement. This may lead to less attrition of new professionals in the field of student affairs administration, thus insuring the presence of well-prepared administrators equipped to lead the profession in the future.

Synergistic supervision is an approach to supervision that enhances the personal and professional development of new professionals. The synergistic approach involves establishing open lines of communication, building trusting relationships, supervisory feedback and appraisal, identification of professional aspirations of staff and identification of the knowledge and skills necessary for advancement (Winston...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 465-480
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.