New managers feel unprepared for role

Most newly promoted social work managers feel unprepared for
management regardless of how skilled they are as practitioners,
according to a new report from the social work department of South
Lanarkshire Council.

The research, carried out by Marian Price, staff development
officer with the council, involved a survey of 142 of the council’s
198 managers. It concluded that most of them felt ill-equipped for
the role when first appointed and, unless specific support was
available, continued feeling inadequate to the task.

Sandy Cameron, executive director of South Lanarkshire social work
resources, said: “Competent, well trained managers are core to
every aspect of care services, but we need to think about how well
we prepare people for the management task. Too often people are
appointed to management posts without sufficient preparation.”

The department undertook the research over six months as part of a
plan to improve staff retention, enhance the quality of management
and prepare for the registration of social work managers by the
Scottish Social Services Council. The move also helps meet the “fit
persons” criteria that are to be applied to managers of all
residential units.

Among the main findings, the research revealed that 71 per cent of
new managers found support from peers, 43 per cent were of the view
that management training should be provided before anyone takes up
a management post, and 31 per cent supported the appointment of a
mentor to support new managers for the first six months.

As a result, South Lanarkshire is preparing to introduce a
succession planning scheme – exposing practitioners to management
training prior to their first management post.

On appointment, new managers will undergo a four to six-week
induction programme, including two weeks of shadowing an
established manager, when they will not be allocated any management
duties. All new managers will be allocated a mentor for six months
and managers’ forums will be established throughout the

Marian Price, commenting on the study’s lessons, said: “I suspect
the experiences of our managers will be shared by many others
across the UK. We would be very interested to hear of other
research into how well managers are prepared for the management
role prior to them taking up post.”

– For more details on the research, Are Social Work Managers
Prepared to Manage?

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