Enjoying my turkey with a glass of wine, three pairs of eyes stare at me waiting for an answer. Having discussed the doctorate of one of my best friends, and the other two’s applications to do a doctorate in the field of Psychology, for the first time I feel quite uncertain in trying to define and justify my new role. What exactly do I do?
After completing a year training to become a primary teacher, and surviving my NQT, it’s hard to justify my sudden career change.
“I suppose you didn’t like teaching then?”
No. I liked teaching. And I like a challenge. When working with a number of managers within the Council, it is safe to assume that it is probably the best teachers who make the best managers. Having the ability to teach others to take responsibility, to equip them with the right skills to complete their work, to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the team, and to encourage and trust the staff to achieve their goal – it is the foundation of an effective manager.
I am six months into the Plan, and I no longer feel comfortable still referring to myself as ‘the new trainee’, so what exactly have I been doing every day? What have I achieved? Am I succeeding on this scheme? And how do I measure success?
The plan focuses on 8 main principles that help us to measure success. In preparing for my first reflective meeting with my line manager, I was required to look for examples that showed that I was working towards, or have met these principles, in the first six months. During this time of reflecting on my experiences it became clear to me what exactly I’ve been doing in my role, and it was a great relief to see.
- Working with others
I have been working with a project manager and a member of the health board mapping systems and processes involved with the home care service using the VANGUARD method. We work with members of staff, from enabling officers, to area leaders, to follow the client’s journey through our existing systems, and identify areas for improvement.
- Communicate with confidence
Working on a project to develop a new system with the Brokerage team I have had to question and present ideas to the department managers, as well as gathering the views of area managers, and the views of staff who receive service and documents from the Brokerage department. I report on what I have learned to my team, co-worker and manager, and clearly state our intentions and vision of how the new system will work.
- Planning and organizing
I have a role on a project that is internalizing a service to another department within the Council. I have had a taste of life as a project manager, gaining a few responsibilities, such as creating a timetable, using a Gantt chart, and trying to make sure that we stick to it, as well as being responsible for organizing meetings and communicating with different individuals involved with the project.
I have also created the brochure and handbook for the staff and residents of Gwynedd who will be involved in the change with this service. I was required to plan what information was needed, contact members of the public to represent the service and communicate with the printing department how I wanted the leaflets to look.
- Achieve results of value
The mapping of the existing home care service systems will enable us to use this information to plan for future developments to the Home Care service. Looking at the results, and our findings we can see what systems are working and what needs to be monitored, modified or deleted to improve our systems.
- Analyse and solve problems
In addition, when mapping systems, we are trying to analyse processes to ensure that we can identify the system’s successes and obstacles. Then recognizing the barriers we are trying to devise a way that is more effective in completing tasks to provide a better service for our service users.
- Stimulate and be agile
I have learned on the brokerage project that systems have to be adapted to those who use it, and that there is a need to ensure that everyone agrees before we can move forward with an idea or change.
- Commitment to local government and the community
In the three projects, I focus on improving processes, raising awareness, and making it easier for individuals to access our services, as well as focusing on offering a better service for the residents of Gwynedd. I have enjoyed the opportunity to engage and advocate with different individuals, and aim to deliver them the best when looking at our existing systems.
- Demonstrate the Potential to lead.
I’m doing my best to lead small projects, and more importantly to lead people in my role as a trainee. I am far from being the complete, perfect leader, and it is possible that I will never be perfect, but it it’s a good ambition to aim towards, and I’m happy to work hard to be the best possible leader who is learning something new every day.
Looking back at these experiences, I can see what I’ve been doing. I’m proud of what I have achieved, and I’m looking forward to the next six months to see what other opportunities will come, and what kind of person, and leader, I will be by then.