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We’ve previously heard your thoughts as to what constitutes great social work managers, but with the 2018 Social Worker of the Year Awards open for entry, now is a good time to review the skills required to be a great social work manager.

Our tips may be useful for those considering entering the awards, or they could offer advice as to what skills may be required when applying for your next job role.

If you are looking to take the first steps onto the managerial ladder and are considering applying for a senior practitioner job, a service manager job or a team leader position, take a read of our latest article.

You never know, it may give you the confidence to apply for your dream job role!

1. Communication skills

Communication is key for all social work managers – not only will you have to share plans and directives from senior managers, but you will also need to make sure that frontline practitioners are clear about what they are working towards.

Danielle from Birmingham suggests that communication is imperative for social workers to feel valued. She says that good managers should “be honest and transparent, especially around lack of resources and the impact this has on budget approvals – managers who do not explain this may leave a worker feeling their assessment is inadequate.”

2. Leadership skills

Whilst this may seem an obvious skill required for all social work managers, leadership is more than just being able to allocate tasks. It’s about having the ability to respond to a variety of issues, being able to keep a team calm during a moment of crisis whilst also setting high standards and working to ensure that each team member is able to meet those required standards.

Linda from London believes that “Managers should not tolerate poor practice but have the emotional intelligence and/or social skills to challenge in a constructive way.”

This is something which is true of last year’s Social Work Awards winner Leanne Baines. In her winning entry for the Children’s Team Leader of the year prize, her colleagues noted that not only did Leanne “manages difficult conversations, in difficult times, fantastically" but she also put the needs of her team first and made sure that “her phone is never switched off until she knows everybody has finished safely for the day"

3. Confidence

Good managers need to feel confident – not just in their own ability, knowledge and understanding of social work, but also feel confident that they are able to provide support and guidance to those working underneath them.

A good social manager should feel confident in challenging decisions and advocating for their service users – they should be able to make difficult decisions without any hesitation.

Leanne Baines was praised by last year’s judging panel for being a manager who was not only “driven to implement policy and practice changes within the organisation but is not afraid to challenge so that the best outcomes are achieved.”

Jacqui from London suggests that this confidence and the “belief and strength in character can be passed down to social workers, helping them to develop their own independent thinking”

4. Ability to remain calm under pressure

Social work is an extremely pressurised career path, so it is vital that social work managers can remain calm at all times – not just for their own personal self but also to keep the team around them calm.

Nicky Skinner, the Adult Team Leader of the Year at the 2017 Social Work Awards was notable in her award entry for her “notable calm demeaner” with Chief Social Worker Lyn Romeo making it clear that Nicky’s ability to “manage volume and support her team” was a key element to her receiving the award.

If you have these skills, then it may be time to take the next step in your social work career.

You can find details of our latest social work job vacancies here – we have a wide range of opportunities for both permanent and locum social work practitioners.

Alternatively, if you would like more information about how to enter the Social Worker of the Year Awards, then please visit the awards website. Deadline for entry into this year’s awards is Friday 20 July.

As headline sponsors of the awards, we are extremely proud of the ways in which it is boosting recognition and awareness of the great work undertaken by social workers every single day.
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