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We’ve all heard the clichés of what makes a really strong team, but what is it about team dynamics that really makes a difference to frontline practice? We surveyed a group of social workers and asked them for their views, and here’s what they said:

Social interaction and a comfortable space full of acceptance and diversity…

“Good leadership enabling shared learning and allowing people to make mistakes and learn from them. Providing social interaction and laughing together.” – Mahongo, Oldham

“Experience, humour and willingness to support each other.” – Katharine, Liverpool

“Having a solid office base, with everyone having their own desk, I think hot desking and desk sharing means that often teams are not together, and don't know who many of their team members are when in larger buildings.” – Danielle, Birmingham

 “Mix of different strengths and backgrounds and an ethos of encouraging debate and challenge in a supportive sharing way.” – Victoria, Bury

“Accepting difference, mixtures of ages and gender, ability and life and professional skills.  Having a manager who is focused on the team as a whole and as individuals. Staff supporting one another and keeping strong communications especially in light of adversity. Fun, we need fun and laughter at work.” – Amanda, Selby

Communication, strong basis, stability and professionalism…

“Good communication systems and professional etiquette. Stability in organisations and low staff turnover.” – Yvonne, Seaham

“Consistency of the staff group, regular meaningful supervision, ensuring that difficult conversations to address issues can safely take place. The team is supportive of each other, and carry out their work in a safe and informed manner at all times.” – Navlet, London

  “Teams that are outcome based and not resources led. Teams which are evidence based and clear about the social work values and responsibilities.” – Sibongile, Hackney

 “Everyone using consistent approaches to benefit service users. Knowledge of other backgrounds to value knowledge acquired either personal or professional.” – Sue, Macclesfield

Knowledge and caring leadership…

“Clear and supportive leadership ensuring individual team member's professional strengths are fully utilised.” – Russell, London

“A great team has great leadership. With great leadership there is collective leadership. and the feeling of empowerment to do the work we do, well.” – Kamal, London

“A management structure that is confident and secure and us clear in its decision-making processes and allows social workers and their managers the autonomy to make difficult decisions. It the structure above is secure the structure below can grow and thrive in the knowledge that they are professionally supported, nurtured and valued.” – Jacqui, London

“Strong managers who know their stuff and believe in their social workers. They ask and check up on you if late visits were undertaken or if someone isn’t in the office someone will know where another colleague is. Seniors who when managers are away they step up and are able to support the team. In our team, anyone will stop to help someone if they need, we are a team and not individuals. We have weekly team meetings every other week is taken by our seniors, we all communicate daily on informal and formal levels. Tea and coffee rounds are offered by every member of the team. We don’t forget important personal dates like colleagues’ birthdays, we bring goodies and a card in. I recently got a present and card for completing my ASYE I feel part of this team and that I am an important part. We go out and socialise not just work.” – Caroline, Banbury

We’d love to hear from you! If you’ve worked in a team that’s supports one and other to help service users, we’d like to know. Just leave a comment below!

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