Jan 17

It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it

Posted: 12 January 2017


What has Bananarama got to do with Skills for Care's Graduate Management Trainee Scheme? Thats the question posed by Karen Carter, Skills for Care’s lead on Leadership and Management, at the Graduate Management Trainee celebration event.  Karen was talking about the joy she had experienced with her first experience of working with the programme.  Joy that has come from seeing the graduates - who have completed their first degree and were not considering a career in social care prior to learning of this programme – grow in their confidence, skills and knowledge. 

Karen also spoke on the value of shared learning, including lots of fun and laughter, and reminded us all that fundamentally, social care is all about relationships and interaction.

This was confirmed when Albert and Melissa, two of the participants, shared their experiences and insights of their learning journey during the past twelve months.  It wasn’t always easy, there were highs and lows which is where the support of their host organisations and mentors showed its true value.

The host organisations provide these young future leaders with practical, hands on experience of what managing and leading in social care is all about.  Albert and Melissa told us that one of the things that most struck them was the diverse range of people who both need and provide care and support.  What a great testimony for our sector. 

It was so heartening to hear from these two young people explaining their clarity of purpose and commitment to high quality, and the best line from Albert was hearing him tell us he has learned you cannot sacrifice quality in social care.  A vital lesson for us all and one we must remind ourselves of daily.

In true CEO encouragement style , as they finished to great applause, I whispered to Skills for Care’s chair, Dame Moira Gibb, ‘follow that!’  And she did.

A perfect foil, following the enthusiasm and motivation of these future leaders, Moira shared her wisdom and learning from her career journey. In thinking what to say to these colleagues at the start of their careers, Moira reflected on what advice she would have welcomed at the start of her own career and offered four pieces of wisdom:

The first is an obsession with the frontline – Moira shared that as we progress through management roles, it can be tempting to distance ourselves from the stressful roles undertaken at the frontline.  It is also easy to be distracted by the many and varied demands placed on us as leaders.  Moira urged our graduates to remain obsessed because frontline practice is the job.

Secondly, we must invest in our staff – the best places to work are those which do this consistently and will therefore keep their high calibre workers. 

Thirdly, collaborate and build relationships – with the people we support, their families and carers, communities, colleagues in our own and other agencies.

And Moira’s fourth piece of advice is that we must tell our story better.  We must recognise that it is our job to explain, to avoid jargon, be open and seek opportunities to showcase and where appropriate boast about how we support people to live the best lives they can.

I wish I’d had this advice from Moira when I was starting out! 

Skills for Care is proud to offer this programme as part of our continual focus on improving the quality of leadership and management across the sector.  We are hugely grateful to everyone who makes it the success it is and in particular wish all the graduates every success – watch out for them, they will make an impact.

Oh – and the Bananarama reference? “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it – that’s what gets results”.