I’d been an advanced practitioner for about seven years, gained a lot of experience and deputised for my manager, so I felt that I had the skills that were necessary to move up. I wanted to be involved in strategic planning; I was very much involved as a senior practitioner in practice and in management – it was like a dual role – but I wanted to have more involvement in shaping the service.
What surprised you most about moving into management?
You realise all the pressures that you’re not really aware of so much as a practitioner. You are a lot more aware of performance targets and you really have to take responsibility for the decisions made at that higher level. It’s been a learning curve, but it has been really interesting and challenging at the same time.
What do you like most about being a manager?
The changes in Cumbria in respect to adoption have been fascinating. There are a lot of initiatives in terms of fostering and adoption recruitment, so I’ve been involved in that. We’ve also got a new team set up by the Adoption Reform Grant called the early permeance team, so we’re doing a lot of work on that. It feels like I’m advancing my skills and having an input into the strategic development of the service, which is exactly the reason I came into it.
What qualities do you think a good social work manager needs?
You’ve got to understand all of your service area. You’ve got to understand all of the legislation, all of the regulations and all of the procedures. But, fundamentally, it is about working with people, identifying strengths, motivating people and driving teams forward. If you’re leading the team, you’ve got to be positive in that role. Having been a practitioner for so long enables you to know what practice is like, and not losing sight of that is really important. Also my job is to advise, so being approachable is really important – you need to be accessible.
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