How to determine the quality of social work management

So, you’ve got an interview coming up for a new social work role and want to gauge the quality of management? Having a caring, supportive, and motivating manager is key to enjoying your job role. It is said that people leave managers not jobs so it’s important you know that your new manager will be the best for your wellbeing and career development, here are some questions you could ask to determine this.



Frontline social work managers experience lots of pressure day-to-day due to the ongoing staff shortages within the industry, a backlog of cases and an increase in more complex cases. Pair this with the common occurrence that some managers lack the right training and support themselves which in turn makes them very overwhelmed, it can cause a negative impact on your standard of practice, as well as your career progression. See the questions you can ask in your next interview to determine how effective different aspects of management are:


1.Ask about the career progression opportunities and how well social workers are prepared when they are promoted to a new role. 

Career development is important and effective managers must understand the long-term career goals of their staff to be able to help them progress effectively, as well as provide them with the appropriate training and support opportunities to take on more responsibility and pressure.


2. Ask how managers balance risk and autonomy as well as how your confidence can be developed within your role.

This is a good question to determine whether the manager micromanages their staff. Managers should have trust in their team and allow them to take on more responsibility to work towards a promotion and build their confidence as a result.


3. Ask about the process of case allocation and how managers spot whether a social worker has an overload of caseloads. 

To allocate workload effectively and fairly, social work managers must have a clear system in place. This will help you to assess whether you may find yourself quickly overwhelmed at work, and not have adequate support from senior members of staff to reduce your workload.


4. Ask for a quick overview of health and safety policies and what actions are taken when a social worker experiences emotional distress due to their job.

The social work profession comes with a lot of emotional distress and compassion fatigue. Therefore, managers must be there to support, listen, show empathy, and provide reflective supervision to social workers and take action where appropriate, such as debriefs after visits or joint visits. A good manager will express clearly what the process is when it comes to stress/ mental health support.


5. Ask about the reward and recognition policy for good work within the organisation.

Good praise and acknowledgement are important in making staff feel valued and motivated. Wanting to be rewarded for hard work is normal in any role, and social work should not be an exception. Make sure your manager recognises the importance of your role.


For more interview advice and tips, we have a helpful guide along with some example questions that you may be asked in a social work interview, click here to view it.

Good luck in your interview and don’t forget these vital questions to ensure that you are managed by someone who will care for and support you, especially within the difficult profession of social work.

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