My Social Work Story Series: Managers Need to be Good Drivers

Being a social work manager is similar to being a responsible driver.That may seem like an unusual analogy, but realistically, the principles are the same. You need to understand the rules of the road, you have to have a great awareness of the law, experience improves your confidence and decision making… Your driving evolves the more you drive, simple as that. As you become more experienced you know when to use the fast roads and when to explore the countryside. You will experience speed bumps, road closure barriers and having to go the long way round. Road works will appear in your way and you will have no control over speed limits. You need to complete regular servicing and maintenance and you will be tested to ensure you are still road worthy.

Sound familiar yet?

Your journey as a social worker will take many forms, but life as a manager is always going to be riddled with pot-holes, speedbumps, route changes and complications. No matter how positive the experience is, I’ve never encountered an entire smooth ride that goes exactly as planned. Maybe that’s just my experiences, but it’s always felt like a car journey: clear objective with the possibility of changes at every stage.

So why, why do we do it?

We want to support others in their journey, to achieve their destination. We want to help people grow, to develop their knowledge and understanding and to Improve their confidence.  We want to be part of a great resource, where people get linked up with others, where challenges can be seen from a different direction and regardless of the chaos, spinning roundabouts, the traffic lights and road works destinations are reached. We want to use our practice knowledge to support your journey and help you navigate the roads ahead.

We will experience delays, breakdowns in communication, chaos due to critical situations and times when no route is a good one. But with the back-up of effective managers staff should never feel alone, they should never feel they have no-one to turn and in the event they do they should know who to contact. As a responsible driver, you need to be able to handle any last-minute changes or twists and turns. Life as a social work manager is no different – you need to be the calm in the storm, able to support your team through any complications.

]There are emergency services for social workers, support groups and forums should you ever feel truly alone or isolated. But whilst it’s good to have this back-up and reassurance for a time of crisis, ideally, managers would want to provide you the emotional reassurance and stability you need, in a timely manner to keep you happily on your journey.

Contributed by Nigella, a Social Work Manager

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