Supervisors and front-line management

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I want to take on supervision / frontline management responsibilities

This section introduces you to the responsibilities of supervision, frontline management and team leadership.

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I want to move into a supervision / frontline management role

Supervisors and front-line management

People in supervisor and frontline management roles have often worked their way up from support worker roles in disability and related sectors. This background experience can prove invaluable and provides a level of credibility, having worked hands-on with participants and clients. However, taking on a supervisor or manager role changes your relationship to both the organisation and other workers.  You also need some different capabilities to be successful in a supervisor or manager role, so it’s a good idea to check those out before deciding on this career direction.

Organisations use different titles for supervisory and management roles. The way these roles are designed, and their responsibilities, depend on the way work is organised. They can have different levels of responsibility for managing participant relationships as well as supporting, developing, and managing people.  Some typical supervisor and frontline management roles in the disability sector include:

  • Team leader
    • Team leaders are often a working member of the team with additional management responsibilities. Responsibilities vary and could include participating in recruiting and onboarding new workers, acting as a key contact point for team members, managing rostering and leave arrangements, communicating two-way information between the team and the organisation, consulting with families and specialists on specific plans, modelling good practice and providing practice feedback.
  • Practice coach
    • Depending on the nature of support, some organisations delivering more intensive supports have coaching roles to model and reinforce practice frameworks. For example, experienced support workers could be appointed to a coaching role to support staff in delivering more intensive positive behaviour support. Responsibilities could include discussing and demonstrating specific approaches, providing refresher training opportunities, structured reflection and debriefing.
  • Supervisor
    • Supervisors generally have broader responsibilities for either directly supervising workers or supporting team leaders to ensure workers are well supported, for example by managing rosters, assessing capabilities, providing feedback on performance and arranging training and development opportunities for workers. They may be responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of support in achieving participant goals and will typically have some reporting responsibilities, for example, on team performance, issues arising, or future needs.
    • Supervisors provide a two-way link between the organisation and the workers. This includes explaining and modelling organisational values and policies, keeping workers up to date on capabilities, procedures and practice, providing feedback from frontline workers to the organisation and contributing to improving policies and practice.

Role profile

Team leader

Huyen is a team leader and practice advisor for a team of support workers who provide in-home support to participants

Can you describe what you do in a few sentences?

I manage rostering and admin for my team, as well as run team meetings.  I work with my team members to develop their skills and keep them engaged and motivated.

What does a regular day look like?

I manage the roster, check in with everyone and make sure they have what they need. If we have a new member, I organise shadow shifts for them to work alongside one of our more experienced team members. I regularly catch up with all the support workers and help them with things like planning leave, making sure they have the resources and support they need and addressing any other challenges they may have. There will typically be some administrative work that needs to be done such as reporting. I need to be across any changes with our participants or organisational processes and pass this information onto the team.

What’s the best part of your role?

I love finding ways to motivate and build the capacity of my team members to provide a better service.  

What are the biggest challenges?

The logistics and admin can be time consuming. It can be challenging trying to organise team meetings and development opportunities when everybody is working all over the place, with different rosters!

How did you get into your current role?

I was working as a support worker for five years. I always put my hand up to fill in and help out team leaders and supervisors whenever they needed it. I learnt a lot about the admin side and then when a full-time role came up, I applied.  

What skills or experiences did you have that were helpful, and what did you need to learn?

As an internal hire, I already knew our processes and practice with participants, but I needed to pick up some of the key leadership skills and figure out how to manage people who had been my peers. I took any opportunity to chat with the more experienced managers and asked to go on a leadership certificate course.

What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into your line of work?

If you want to be a leader or supervisor, you have to be proactive in learning more about what they do. You can do that by putting your hand up to help whenever they’re short-staffed, which will also put you in a better position to apply when those opportunities do come up.

Where do you see your career going in the future?

I’m enjoying leading the team at the moment, building up my skills in training and enabling my team members to do the best job possible.  I just want to keep learning so I can be in the best position for whatever opportunities come up in the future!


To find out more about the workforce management capabilities for this kind of work, have a look at the core capabilities for Supervisors and Frontline Management in the NDIS Workforce Capabilities Framework.  

Depending on the workers they are managing and the participants they are supporting, Supervisors and Frontline Managers may also need to be aware of the additional capabilities in the Framework, which can be found under the General or Advanced Support work types.

Supervisor and management roles also require capabilities in other areas than those directly related to workforce management, for example decision-making and conflict resolution, and possibly budget management, performance assessment reporting and analytical thinking for input to future planning and policies.  See the suggestions in the ‘More Information and Resources’ section below.

Things to consider

  • Frontline management roles often require prior experience in disability support work and may blend direct support with management responsibilities. Think about the different aspects of frontline management that interest you. For example, if you enjoy hands-on interaction with participants, you may want a role that allows you to combine this work with some frontline management responsibilities. Alternatively, you might be interested in fully transitioning to a supervisory or management role.
  • The transition from a frontline role to a management role can be challenging. You will have different responsibilities and accountabilities and the move into this kind of role is likely to change the way you interact with your colleagues. It is a good idea to seek guidance from others who have gone through this transition and are experienced managers. You can ask your organisation about how you would be supported to move into this new role, as well as seeking out and talking to managers you respect who can encourage you, give you advice on key things to watch for and think about, and perhaps agree to be your mentor as you make the transition.
  • You will need to develop and apply some specific skills, such as:
    • Coaching, mentoring, and developing others. Leaders in disability need to be able to model the required capabilities and demonstrate the required tasks. They also need to be good at explaining good practice, facilitating others to develop and assessing capabilities. This means having a good knowledge of the Framework, staying up to date with good practice and knowing how to be effective in supporting others in their practice.
    • Administration work. Supervisors and managers are likely to have a significant portion of their time devoted to rostering, participant plan management, overseeing operations, record keeping, reporting, and, in some cases, budgeting and financial responsibility.
    • General management responsibilities. Having a clear focus on team purpose and aims, providing consistent direction at both a team and individual level, motivating people, running effective meetings, seeking out and listening to staff feedback, and managing conflict are all required of managers and supervisors in any industry. Individuals progressing from support worker roles will need to develop many of these skills to succeed in the role.
    • Analytical thinking and communication skills. Supervisors and managers will need to present information and arguments to assist the organisation to reflect on and improve the way it operates. You will need to understand and consider a wider range of interests such as how decisions affect participants, workers, and business sustainability.
  • You may also consider requesting training for the skills you will need in frontline management roles such as coaching, managing conflict, having difficult conversations, conducting team meetings.

More information and resources

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