A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about onboarding new staff and some of the tools you can use to ensure that people feel supported and settled within the first few weeks of joining your organisation.
I am ever conscious of the role of Registered Managers, having been one myself and the little resource and focus available. It could be that you are in a new role, settled in your current position or thinking of leaving, so in this week’s column, I am going to share some tips and resources that you can use as a Registered Manager as part of your induction and ongoing development.
For the sake of this blog, let’s pretend it is the first day of your new job.
Take a moment to reflect back to when you started a new job and how it made you feel: nervous, scared, overwhelmed, anxious, excited, a combination of them all...?
If your first day is anything like mine, they are always a blur because there is so much to take in. That’s why as a Registered Manager it's important to have a plan.
You don’t have one? Good thing that’s what this blog is for…
Introduce yourself and build relationships
All the feelings that we described above on your first day, your team are going to be thinking the same. They will have lost their manager who was steering the boat, and many will be unsettled and worried about someone new and the changes that will come.
The best thing to do is to meet with your team. It is important to establish a positive relationship from the start, and I personally like to have an informal conversation over a cup of tea or coffee and explain who I am, my journey within social care, and why I applied for the job. I then like to open the floor up to any questions – personal or work related so that the team get a chance to know me.
Be prepared that some people will have questions, but they won’t want to raise their hand. Make sure that you reassure your new team that after the meeting, people can come to you.
Depending on whether you are managing a service where the people you support live in or out of the community, your approach matters. I personally find it beneficial to shadow a member of staff for a couple of days, as this gives you the opportunity to have further in depth conversations about who they are, what they like about working for the company, what they don’t like, what they would like to change or implement and also a chance to meet some of the people you will be working with.
Following your shadowing, you will then be able to set up some time to meet the people you will be supporting. You’ll be able to let them know about who you are, why you are working for the company and provide a chance for them to ask you questions.
Remember, it is important to also meet with the stakeholders, such as family, friends and other professionals, and this can take up a large amount of your time.
If you are going to be managing a larger service, you may want to send out personalised letters introducing yourself and offer for people to contact you if they want to have an introductory meeting. Relatives love this as, all too often, their voices are not heard, and having a chance to talk openly will be welcomed.
Vision, values and culture
It is important for all of us to know what the visions and values are of the organisation we work for. After all, it should align with our own, so it is vital that you learn about and understand the company’s visions, values and any mission statement they have.
A good place to start is within the Statement of Purpose. I personally like to take a photocopy and highlight any areas where you want further clarification, but to also scribble notes where things may need updating.
As the Registered Manager, you are responsible for the Statement of Purpose and this is what the regulator will hold you to account on.
Learn the business and seek mentorship
In order to drive the business forward, you need to have a sense of how it operates. I have spoken about the importance of shadowing your fellow team, but it is also important to sit back and observe.
Your director/CEO should be spending time with you on the first few weeks, sitting down with you and showing you the processes of things.
It is important that if you do not get this, which unfortunately is common in social care, that you document what you need upskilling in and take this back to them and ask for clarification or training.
All too often, we are afraid of admitting our faults or short comings. You are in a new role, and there are new processes and new systems, but it is important that you feel empowered and confident to ask for help. If you have joined a company that does not want to help, or is not listening to you, then I would suggest that you reflect on whether this is the right company fit. Sadly, I do see this happening within social care, and if you are reading this and thinking ‘this is me’, make sure you seek mentorship from another Registered Manager or someone you trust.
Being a Registered Manager can be the loneliest of jobs. Your team have one another, but it’s often you on your own, making the decisions and having to often be the ‘bad guy’ but it doesn’t have to be that way. Find someone to offload to, and if this isn’t or cannot be your manager, perhaps look for external support.
It is important that regardless of the relationship you have with the team, the people you support, and the directors/CEOs, that you seek external support if you need it.
There are many benefits of having someone that you can speak to that does not know the organisation. This will allow them to give you a fresh perspective and hold you accountable for your actions.
There are many social care consultants and mentors out there – some that will charge, some that are free. Do your research and find the person who is right for you. From an advice point of view, I am always happy for people to contact me, you just have to drop me a message (and I won’t charge).
Continuous Professional Development (CPD)
We are expected by our regulator to focus on the career pathways of our teams. We want to see people achieve but we often neglect to do that for ourselves, especially when goal setting.
CPD is important as it helps us to stay up to date with the skills and knowledge that we need to do our jobs, but also to upskill us for the future. Some developmental opportunities you could look at would include:
- Qualifications in social care
- Qualifications in management
- Leadership events
- Care conferences, such as The Care Show, Health plus Care, UK Care Week and the Care Managers Show
You should also consider using Facebook groups, following people that inspire you on social media, and having your company pay for external training days. It doesn’t have to cost the world – I often find that simply networking with others is enough, with someone who knows what I am going through and can relate.
But what if you don’t want to complete a new qualification at this time, or you have reached the top of what you can do?
Think about your long-term career goals. Could you do something that could benefit you in the long run, such as a teaching qualification, a training degree, nursing in social care, or a social work qualification.
Registered Managers do an amazing job putting others first and ensuring that they feel valued and supported. Remember to stop and make sure that you are doing or getting the same for yourself. It's not selfish, its valuing yourself.
I haven’t touched on it above, but make sure you take care of your mental health. Have strict boundaries so you don't overdo it, and make sure you put steps in place so that you can effectively manage your workload, avoid burning yourself out, and prioritise yourself as much as you do everyone else around you.