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LHF is committed to developing existing managers in the homelessness sector through our LSBU sponsored course, professional development programme and travel bursaries.  But what about the steps before that? We asked Becky Rice, LHF Course Director for the LHF/ LSBU  Post Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Management (homelessness and housing), what advice she would give to people looking to step up into their first management role.

Preparing for management; securing that first role

It can be hard to get that first management role.  People come to this point with very diverse experiences. Some people have a wealth of experience in the sector and then seek to move into management; others are earlier their career but feel that management is the right path for them; some may have transferable skills in management from other roles that they want to apply to the sector.  As Course Director for the LHF I am sometimes asked how people can break into that critical first management role – then a few years later hopefully join us on the LHF/ LSBU course!

Here are a few ideas: 

It might sound obvious, but does your line manager know that you are keen to assist in areas relevant to management?  Ask if you can help with management tasks such as supervising volunteers, trainees or students on placements.  You could also offer to take on non-line management supervision, for example of temporary or cover staff.

Induction is crucial for new staff, and a key management focus.  Make sure you are a proactive part of new team member’s inductions if you can.  Even better, ask if you can help plan the induction programme.

Recruitment is another potential way to build your management skills; being part of shortlisting and interview panels is great experience to have when applying for first management roles.

Getting involved in corporate opportunities around change management or strategic development is another really useful thing to consider.  For example, volunteering to be on working groups, staff panels, or task and finish groups. This could include diversity working groups, GDPR champions role, and internal project boards or steering groups e.g. for pieces of research or to consider the organisation’s response to new government policies or legislation.  Different organisations have different ways to describe these kinds of opportunities so find out more about what’s going on in your organisation.  This way you can make additional contributions to your organisation, keep up to date on the latest developments in the sector, and show that you are really motivated to keep learning.

Offer to assist with briefing staff in any areas you know about or where the team needs someone to do a bit of background research and feed it back in a team meeting.  For example, ask your manager if you could look into a new areas of government guidance or new research report and prepare a short briefing note for your colleagues or feedback in a team meeting.

If time allows you could consider volunteering outside of work to broaden your perspective, bring additional insight to your work and build your CV.

Another obvious point but often missed is to make sure you have a personal development discussion with your line manager.  It is usual to have a dedicated discussion with your line manager about your development plan regularly – if that’s not happening its worth asking to dedicate time in your next meeting to this.  You can take this as an opportunity to state your ambition to move to the next grade when possible and that you would like support with that. Ideally, you should have a Personal Development Plan or similar which provides an outline of what is planned for the coming year to help you progress with your current practice and your career. As part of your personal development discussions, check your organisations policy on internal and external training – and sign up if you can!

Finally, ask about any additional coaching or mentoring.  If this is available it would allow you to explore your ambitions and build your network with someone who is not your line manager.

Good luck!

For more information about the LHF sponsored post grad course, professional development programme and travel bursaries have a look on the relevant pages on the website.

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