Embarking on a new role in Child Protection can be both exciting and nerve wracking, whether you are a new graduate starting out, changing direction or starting a new role. Through my roles in leadership within organisations and also as a Professional Supervisor, I have seen people start a job only to find it’s not for them or lose their way as they go. I want practitioners to be hopeful, skilled and passionate about the work that they do and so have put together six tips for you to consider so that you successfully set yourself up for a positive experience in a child protection role.
- Be aware of what your needs are before accepting
Before attending interviews or accepting a role, be clear about what your non-negotiables are so that you can be the best practitioner you can be. You might need to consider commuting time, work/ life balance, culture of the organisation and pay to name a few. If your needs differ significantly from what the organisation/ team/ role can provide or are not outweighed by other positives then you may end up burnt out, resentful and losing passion for the role.
- Make you sure there is adequate support and training in your role.
No matter where you are in your career but especially if you are newly starting out, support in the role is vital so that you can learn and develop, as well as for your own self care. When interviewing for jobs, don’t be afraid to ask about what is provided by way of supervision, training and additional support (such as peer mentoring). Stay clear of places offering very little of these things or that seem put out when you ask the question! Previously as a hiring manager, when people asked this in an interview I was impressed as it demonstrated a want to continue to learn and develop.
- Connect with and spend time with team members who are passionate and skilled
There are certain types of people in a team, and the two on opposite ends of the scale are the passionate, hopeful and skilled practitioners and then those that are always complaining, involved in office politics and resistant to change. Make sure to identify who those skilled and passionate practitioners are early on, develop a good working relationship with them, ask to go on home visits with them and take in all you can learn! It will mean you are more likely to be hopeful and positive plus learn some great new skills too.
- Have a growth mindset
People with a growth mindset know that through persistence and learning that they can develop new skills no matter how experienced they are. Head into your new role ready to learn, accept feedback and to reflect. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback either, this is a great way to learn and is also a way to develop a solid relationship with your supervisor too.
- Stay true to your values and ethics
It is vital to firstly have identified your values and ethics early on in your career, but also to keep on checking in on them as your career progresses. Before embarking on a role, make sure that your value and ethics align to the organisation you will work for. Once you start in the role check in with what the organisation says are its values versus what it actually does (lets face it they don’t always align!). Don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel that the your values and ethics or the Social Work Code of Ethics are being breached, it might not win you friends but it will ensure that you don’t end up doing something against your values that you might regret later on.
- Be proactive with your self care
Have a plan for your self care and prioritise it. While it’s common for practitioners to start implementing self care strategies once they starting feeling symptoms of burnout and vicarious trauma, it is vital that you start these strategies before you have any (but that’s a whole other blog). Starting a new role is the perfect time to set yourself up for some good habits.
If you are about to embark on a new role consider a session with a myself to set yourself up for a positive work experience.