Book Reviews

Book By: Anne O’Brien Carelli
Review By: Aimee Arreygue
Assistant Director, Weekend College
Mount St. Mary’s College

The Truth about Supervision is a handbook addressing supervisory issues such as teamwork, performance appraisals, and delegation. Anne O’Brien Carelli prefaces her text with, “This book is for supervisors who need realistic information about how to do some of the principal tasks of a supervisor” (v). While one hopes that, at some point, Carelli  will veer off topic just a little to dissect true-to-life work situations or offer a pearl of anecdotal wisdom, the handbook remains true to its purpose: a guide to defining and solving critical issues that come up in supervisor’s daily lives (based on interviews and surveys completed by real supervisors). It stays predictably dependable and for those new to supervision, the book is a quick and easy-to-comprehend solution manual for topics that will arise on a day-to-day basis.

A beneficial aspect of this text is its emphasis on communication in the workplace. The author stresses the need to constantly communicate so employees are never “blindsided (10)” by negative performance information.  Instead supervisors should communicate and coach employees from the beginning. This topic is useful to anyone, whether supervisor, advisor, or other staff. Employees in any work environment appreciate knowing where they stand and the same can be said for students in an advising relationship.

Another of the book’s assets is its straightforwardness.  However, this straightforwardness is also its major detriment as it pervades the text in such a way that no room is left to address the quirks which come up in most supervisory situations. A new supervisor may wish to know how to address more sticky issues such as how to handle a breach of ethics, or severe personnel difficulties. While the book alludes to these topics, it does not cover them in the same depth as the other topics. Another difficulty is that the situational problems described are clearly made-up scenarios instead of anecdotal references that would more easily resonate with the reader. One final note of caution, many of the scenarios are business-related and may not translate into non-profit academic situations.

New academic advising administrators may find this book a useful primer for handling supervisory matters.  While I will probably keep this book in my reference library, I’m not sure how often I will refer to it.

The Truth About Supervision: Coaching, teamwork, interviewing, appraisals, 360 degree assessments, and recognition. (2004). Book by Carelli, Anne O’Brien. Review by Aimee Arreygue. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas Publisher, 202 pp. Price: $48.95 (hard). ISBN #0-398-07470-4

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