Jess qualified as a social worker in 2009 and considers her first job as giving a solid ground for her career and subsequent transition into management. Although her first position as a social worker was before the ASYE scheme, the team knew how to support new staff as well as stretch them. As a newly qualified social worker, Jess had regular supervision, a manager with an open door policy and a strategic manager who was visible and approachable. Here Jess was encouraged to take on champion roles and engage in post qualifying studies. A feature of the team was their ability to pull together an incredible ‘bring and share’ lunch which Jess has chosen as her image to represent her transition into management.
“I feel that this represents my transition into management as most social work offices will have at least an annual bring and share lunch! This also represents how I have been lucky to have people bring and share their knowledge, skills and experience with me (as well as food) in the form of managers, colleagues and teams.”
Jess considers this first post as a “solid foundation” to her social work career, which gave her the opportunity to move into a specialist leadership type role before a management one. This enabled her to understand and practice her leadership skills – how to influence practice and build relationships with practitioners. This role provided her with the experience to understand the connection between management and leadership and provide a smooth transition into a more traditional managerial role.
Jess’ experience highlights that former positive role models are a source of influence and inspiration. Hair (2013) suggests that in the absence of training, new managers draw widely on past experience as practitioners to base their management style upon. The literatureindicates that social workers’ prior experience of being managed is seen as opposite ends of the spectrum – good or bad, yet the reality for Jess was more like a bringing together and sharing of ideas and experiences (Hair, 2013, Kitchener et al. 2000).
I’ve never worked in a perfect organisation or had a perfect manager but each of them has taught me something about social work management – even if at times that’s perhaps not the ways I would do things. This can be reflected in a bring and share lunch where you might try a new food, or discover a new thing that you like or something that you don’t like. This for me is all about the concept of a ‘bring and share’. No social work office would be complete without one and I wouldn’t have transitioned into management without others sharing their knowledge, skills & experience with me.”
Jess’ image and words about ‘bring and share’ lunch, metaphorically acts as a reminder of the importance of shared experiences, ideas and relationships and the contribution a varied menu and dishes can make in shaping our own practice and transition into leadership and management.
Jess is a Principal Social Worker for Adult Social Care
Hair, H. J. (2013) The Purpose and Duration of Supervision, and the training of and Discipline of Supervisors: What Social Workers Need to Provide Effective Services, British Journal of Social Work, 43(8): 1562-1588.
Kitchener, M., Kirkpatrick, I. & Whipp, R. (2000) Supervising Professional Work under New Public Management: Evidence from an Invisible Trade, British Journal of Management, 11: 213-226.