Free article: Supporting and developing managers

Published: Sunday, 01 December 2019

Georgina Turner, Director of Engagement at Skills for Care, looks at the value of continuing professional development (CPD) for managers and future leaders in social care.


  • Investing in accredited learning and CPD for managers contributes to well-led services.
  • £3 million of government funding has been allocated for employers to invest in their managers.
  • Skills for Care has launched three new CPD programmes for managers, with funding available until 31 March 2020.
  • Managers have broad development needs, including support from peers and a sense of belonging and recognition.


With as many as 10,000 registered managers due to retire in the next 15 years, it’s clear that a commitment to investing in accredited learning and CPD for managers and aspiring managers is required at all levels, whether you’re an employer, Skills for Care or the government.

That’s why Skills for Care has allocated £3,000,000 from the Workforce Development Fund, distributed on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care, to support the learning and development of future and existing social care managers.

We did this because we know investing in managers represents an investment in services, their staff and the quality of the care they provide. That funding allocation was driven by evidence showing that an effective, well-supported manager has the biggest influence on the overall quality of care provided.

At the same time as announcing the funding, we published our recommended development route for managers. These recommendations included the first three of a wider suite of one-day CPD modules that continue to develop the skills and knowledge of managers.

These modules were launched this autumn and cover the fundamental building blocks that managers need to lead and develop busy, high-quality services. They include understanding self-management skills, understanding workplace culture and understanding performance management.

Continuing professional development for managers

Skills for Care believes that managers need, and deserve, the same opportunities for recognised CPD as other professionals in our sector, like social workers, nurses and occupational therapists.

The importance of self-management

A manager’s role is characterised by change. When we published research in 2018, almost 80% of managers reported that their role had changed since they started, becoming more varied – but also more pressured.

The research also saw managers reporting that they split their time across a wide range of tasks, and over a third also reported completing tasks not included in their job description.

Those findings might suggest that managers don’t have the time for CPD or to step away from their services. In reality, making time for CPD is crucial, as a manager’s approach to their own resilience and time management will shape their ability to successfully lead and manage their staff.
As Julie Lusk, one registered manager, put it:

“If you don’t look after yourself, how can you be expected to look after others?”

Our research also showed that, while it’s clear that being a manager can be exceptionally rewarding, it’s also a busy and demanding role. The ability to prioritise rather than firefight is a must – not just for the good of a manager’s physical and mental health, but also for the health of their service.

To help managers manage their health, the delegation of duties to team members is a key component of the new self-management CPD module. It looks at the impact of self-management on others. If a manager feels they cannot delegate, not only are they increasing their own workload, they may be denying others opportunities to learn and grow in confidence.

Many managers proudly, and rightly, state that “caring isn’t a job, it’s a passion”. To make that passion sustainable day in and day out, managers must think about how they lead themselves, not just others.

Workplace culture

Consider the power, for better or worse, of the common phrase “We’ve always done things this way”. For anyone who has been on the receiving end of those six words, they immediately demonstrate the influence of culture. A service’s values and culture set the tone, personality and effectiveness of a service, including its norms and expectations.

Further evidence of the power of culture emerges frequently in the Care Quality Commission’s inspection reports:

“The values of the organisation (compassion, respect, caring) were put into practice on a day-to-day basis.”
“Staff were highly motivated and proud.”
“Staff told us they were encouraged to ‘speak up’ or ‘challenge’ if they had concerns.”

This useful feedback comes from the reports of services rated as good or outstanding. It offers proof from well-led services that a positive culture isn’t a ‘nice-to-have’ but an essential if a service is going to provide quality, person-centred care and do well at inspection.

The culture module is rooted in some very tangible elements, allowing a manager who understands each element to take practical action to change or sustain the culture of a service. It will enable them to clearly set the tone and standards they want, which empowers their staff to make positive changes by communicating their passion and seeing it replicated in others.

Performance management

Managers at any level should ask themselves: “How much time do I spend on performance management each week?”

The sector needs to recognise performance management as an ongoing conversation, which starts at recruitment and continues until someone leaves a service. Every conversation about work between a manager and a member of their team is performance management.

A further question is “Did you include managing good performance in your weekly review?”

It’s easy for us to assume that performance management means the worst, but it’s also a positive process that supports team work, develops staff and helps managers keep hold of good staff.

Whether someone is new to their role, or they are an experienced manager, the significance of good performance management supported by recognised techniques and strategies cannot be underestimated.

Accessing CPD

The launch of our CPD modules provides an opportunity for us to put our money where our mouth is, backed by the £3 million funding for managers and aspiring managers.

Funding is available until 31 March 2020 for each module via the Workforce Development Fund. In 2019, a number of funded places have also been available from Skills for Care’s endorsed learning providers and Workforce Development Fund partnerships.

The funding represents an important step in removing the barriers to accessing CPD, but investment itself is not enough if we’re going to give managers the support they deserve.

Alongside learning programmes on specific topics, we must consider the broader needs of managers in our sector:

  • Supervision: whether someone is taking their first steps in management or they’re an experienced manager, we know regular supervision is a ‘must-have’. It doesn’t just help someone deal with operational issues, good supervision will also be an important opportunity for reflection and growth.
  • Time: everyone needs time, and this takes lots of different forms. Time in a role, putting learning into practice, time for reflection, and time to complete learning. Being or becoming a manager is a big job – it shouldn’t and can’t be rushed.
  • Peer support: it will come as no surprise that registered managers frequently tell us some of the most important support, advice and information they receive comes from their peers. Given that this is a challenging role, the confidence and reassurance which comes from time spent with peers cannot be underestimated.

“I feel that as a registered manager you don’t often get a chance to catch up with peers and get support. I have found networks a great source of support, which gives me the chance to discuss topics pertinent to my role.” Sue Ann Balcombe, Registered Manager.

  • Services must support their managers: managers should never be allowed to feel they have to manage everything alone. They need to have great deputies, seniors and well-trained staff around them. Support from an active nominated individual or owner is also vital. No-one should ever think that management and leadership are just about one person.
  • Professional recognition: as the membership organisation for registered managers in England, we believe that when a manager tells someone that they’re a registered manager, the person should immediately recognise what that means – in the same way that the public recognise roles like social worker, occupational therapist or nurse.


A great manager is the heartbeat of any care service. We must never underestimate the importance of effectively managing ourselves, setting and maintaining a positive culture and getting the very best from our team. None of these are optional extras in what is a rewarding, varied, challenging and changing role.

The funding and the CPD modules will be key building blocks to providing support in all those areas for managers.

It’s also an important opportunity to think and talk more widely about what practical and emotional support managers need: peer-to-peer networks, supervision, succession planning and recognition.

The exceptional is often business as usual where managers in our sector are concerned. That’s why we must all keep talking about how we support and develop those individuals who do so much to support and develop others.

Further information

About the author

Georgina Turner is Director of Engagement at Skills for Care. She has extensive experience in social care and health. Her expertise extends to specific insights into the adult social care market and its supply chains, grant investment and management, as well as stakeholder engagement.



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