Simon Arthur offers tips for social care professionals on taking their first steps into management
“Good” practitioners are often recruited to be managers on the basis of their skills. These can be transferred to management and leadership, but the process is not automatic. People interested in becoming managers should consider the following:
Why do you want the job?
People sometimes have unrealistic ideas about what they can achieve as managers. Ask yourself: “What’s my motivation and what will I miss about the job I am leaving?”
Are you committed to working as part of a management team?
Your management team is not the team you are managing – you are part of a larger system. The prospect of cuts means that managers will increasingly have to make difficult decisions. Are you willing and able to implement policies that you may find difficult or unpopular?
Learning new skills
Budget management can cause concern, so think about simple principles: understand how the budget is constructed, check it regularly and act on any drift towards overspend or underspend. Case allocation needs to be transparent and you need to apply agency guidelines. How will you supervise staff, including prioritising and making decisions about their training or development needs? How will you address changed relationships with colleagues?
What training needs will you have? What support will you receive when moving from skilled practitioner to manager? In learning theory, skilled and experienced workers or managers are said to reach a stage of “unconscious competence”. This means doing something well but not knowing how you do it. How will you address feeling deskilled as you move towards the “conscious incompetence” you will feel as a new manager – knowing what you should know but not possessing the skills to do it?
Imagination is more important than knowledge
Most new managers and some staff believe they have to know everything. What do you want to see and be as a manager? A clear vision will give your brain a powerful signal of what you want to achieve, what it will look like and most importantly how you will know when you have got there.
New managers face plenty of challenges, but remember there are highs as well. Bring your sense of fun, creativity, desire for growth and change. Enjoy seeing your efforts contributing to making things better for service users.
Simon Arthur is an independent trainer and consultant in management, leadership and team skills with clients in youth offending teams and children and families services
For further information visit http://www.simonjarthur.com