Ask the Experts: Making a move to management


Our expert panel offers advice on staff supervision, team motivation, life skills for young people and engaging nursery children with the arts.

I have moved to a more senior position at workthat requires me to undertake staff supervision and have a more strategic role within the organisation. I am anxious about making the shift from an operational role into management. Any tips?

Jeanie Lynch: There will be core competencies relating to your new role that should have been outlined in your job description and formed the basis of your interview. You obviously met these requirements to have been offered this post.

Undertaking supervision for the first time can be daunting, especially if it means supervising colleagues who were previously your peers.

Ask your line manager for an induction programme that explores your learning and development needs. Get your manager to outline the key tasks involved in supporting staff through effective supervision and appraisal, and identify some formal supervision training.

Your new role may also require demonstrating strong leadership skills, which can also be a bit nerve-wracking at first. Build your confidence and you will probably find there is little to be worried about.

Jeanie Lynch has more than 20 years’ experience working as a senior manager developing support for vulnerable children and young people

One of my managers is excellent but sometimes gets very emotional about the cases he oversees. How should I handle this?

Peter Lewis: This person is one of your strongest members of staff, so if he is struggling then others are likely to be struggling too. You need to focus on keeping him and his team focused and motivated, which requires good management and great leadership.

This means being clear about the task in hand, what children need and the difference the right support and intervention can make. It is also about setting standards. Everyone – staff, parents, carers and, crucially, the young people you work with – needs to be clear about the standards set for them and their workers, and be involved in setting those standards.

With clear standards in place, your manager will feel more confident and he and his colleagues will offer a more solid service. Young people are relying on them. If it all gets too emotional, the service will struggle and standards will fall, which does not help anyone.

Peter Lewis is a freelance providing interim local authority children’s services leadership, and a former DCS in Haringey

I have been asked to manage a new project designed to help young people leaving school, going to college and making plans for the future. What elements should it include?

Tracie Trimmer-Platman: You need to start where the young people are – whether they are applying for education or training, looking to start work or have other or no plans. Ensure you have a good overview of the mix of needs.

You can run preparation for work sessions – job searching, CV writing and applying for jobs. Interview role-plays and presentation skills would be helpful. Stress can be a huge issue for young people as they move into new situations and environments, so workshops and activities that focus on building self-esteem and confidence are useful for all. Also, look at ways to develop skills for independent living, such as living on a budget and shopping for food.

You may not have the knowledge and experience to facilitate all of this, so team up with partner agencies such as careers advice services, colleges, universities and mental health charities.

Tracie Trimmer-Platman is senior lecturer in youth and community work at the University of East London

I manage a nursery and am keen to increase our children’s access to the arts. Where do I start?

June O’Sullivan: Every child deserves a rich cultural experience, which is crucial to imagination, self-expression and creativity. The arts encompass architecture, music, visual art, dance and design, all of which enhance children’s personal, social and cognitive skills.

The benefits may be hard to envisage when looking at two-year-olds, but access to the arts has both specific and holistic benefits for the very young. For example, using music and sounds encourages better listening in toddlers; dance develops better spatial and physical skills; and architecture and design through model-making, block play and collage develops a range of abilities from basic maths to physical skills and problem-solving.

Arts and culture are also a great basis for interacting with parents, whether that is collecting items for display, doing shared art activities at home or a competition to design a nursery logo.

June O’Sullivan is chief executive of the childcare charity and social enterprise, the London Early Years Foundation

Email questions, marked “Experts”, to cypnow@markallengroup.com

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