My annual review

I recently had my annual review, which gave me the opportunity to reflect on my year and what I want to achieve in 20–21.

I found my reviews of 2019 and previous annual review posts really helpful in preparing for this review. I’ve learnt a lot this year, and that learning has intensified because of the effects of COVID-19.

Feedback

We’ve done well this year. We’re fortunate that our organisation continues to grow in these challenging times. The events team’s place in the organisation has shifted, and consequently so has my management in the last few months, and that’s made us better aligned with the Tailored Support team. Conversations about things like staffing have involved more people because we’re working across teams and resoonsibilities.

I’m really happy that the feedback from my colleagues was good, but there are also nuggets of helpful feedback that I need to build on. My tendency to go to the place of rescuer in the drama triangle has meant that I’m not as authortative in my position as I should be, and that in turn has led to further difficult conversations. Reflecting on that was really helpful. What stuck with me was that I should be asking “What do you need to do? And how can I support you?”

Complex Wales shared this Kings Fund piece on encouraging cognitive diversity, which gave me a lot of food for thought around when being nice might not be kind:

“Nice cultures are characterised by espoused values of teamwork and mutual respect, yet such places of supposed intra-organisational harmony can be equally problematic if they are simply conflict-averse.”

Clearly avoiding conflict in and of itself isn’t necessarily a good thing. This is a good thing to remember when the going gets tough.

If I lead the team with a coaching mentality then my workload should reduce too. I need to think about what I can let go of if my role is to develop. What really hit home is that I need to model good behaviour. I’m not the best at letting go and communicating when I’m swamped. Asking for help is a good thing, and demonstrating that is important.

Expectations

Toby Lowe has outlined in this excellent post how measurement can improve social interventions:

“It comes down to this: are we measuring to learn and improve, or are we measuring to be accountable to others (to demonstrate something to them)?”

COVID has meant that we’ve had big conversations about what a good learning offer looks like. We use Livestorm as our webinar platform, which offers lots of interesting data. I’ve been thinking about how measures like the numbers of comments made per participant might be interesting as a lagging measure. It will be fascinating to be able to contrast linear measures of participation with satisfaction at the end of the year, and on a webinar by webinar basis it will enrich what we share with the management team.

We’re also needing to nurture and develop new skills. Tech and facilitation has sat with a couple of staff members and with associates, all of whom have done a cracking job. Online delivery means that we need to share the hosting and facilitation duties across the organisation. We’ve created some excellent resources as a result, including a brilliant webinar on Autism inclusive practice and another on Working with people who have experienced prison. Having knowledgable people on board is so helpful.

Growth and development

It’s interesting to see how elements of my role have changed without formal action. I mentioned how I miss being part of networks and learning from others. It was good to reflect on how that has occured naturally as I have developed my work and my understanding of social care. By sharing my learning my network has increased. As I’ve got more confident in sharing social care posts, I’ve connected with people with social care backgrounds and I’ve learnt even more. Winning! I look forward to continuing on that learning journey this year.

I really enjoyed shaping our adults partnership conference this year. Although I led on the format, Lisa Smith’s expertise was invaluable in understanding who would be the best people to spark knowledge sharing at the event. We built in networking opportunities that made better use of our strengths as a network.

I’m now also overseeing our podcasts. We have some great podcasts coming up. We’re looking at how we can improve the shownotes to reflect how useful they are as resources. Our publications and events all link to academic research, and now our podcasts will include information and references to resources that are included in the episode.

Wellbeing

COVID-19 has changed all of our lives over the last few months. It’s been tricky in an organisational sense as we’ve been ensuring that our offline support continues in an online context. It’s also been tricky in a personal sense as I’ve needed to balance childcare with work. It would have been much trickier without the support and flexibility that Research in Practice have given me, which I’m very grateful for.

When everyone’s working remotely it makes it much easier to work with people in different offices. We’ve learnt a lot during lockdown about the capabilities of the organisation, and of us as individuals. I’ve also found that working from home has meant that I’ve been better able to get to grips with the emotional labour of the household.

I’m a shambles when I’ve got nothing to do, so I’ve been getting out on the bike every morning before work. I’ve known for a while that my physical health is linked to my mental health.

A bike leaning against beach huts
A bike leaning against beach huts

There have been a few issues to deal with in work this year, and I’ve also really appreicated the opportunity to check in with Susannah Bowyer to get another perspective on things. That support has been really useful, and I’m learning a lot along the way.

Goals for the year

The opportunity to reflect on my year has resulted in my setting of these goals for myself:

Leadership confidence

To better lead the team in a more assertive way. Reflecting on Arnstein’s Ladder, I’ll be thinking about when it’s appropriate to co-produce, consult or inform of decisions that have been made, based on the situation that I’m in.

How will I know if I’m doing this:

  • I’m being assertive when framing tasks that need to be done
  • I’m supporting people to grow outside their comfort zone
  • I’m saying “What do you need to do? And how can I support you to do it?”

Knowledge

I want to further develop my knowledge of social care and to be more assertive in applying my expertise in knowledge exchange, and learning into our learning resources.

How will I know if I’m doing this:

  • Learning methodologies are central to the resources I’m working on
  • I develop further of understanding of elements that are specific to social care e.g. safeguarding and supervision

Better allocate work within our team

We think a lot about flow in the process design of our team. We think about who has the information needed at different points in order to develop as smooth a process as possible. But focusing so much on flow has meant that I’m doing some things that I’m not best placed to do, particularly when my colleagues are queens of process. What elements do I need to do, and what might better sit with other people?

How will I know if I’m doing this:

  • I’m working to my strengths
  • I delegate my work and lead the team by example by better sharing tasks

It’s been a year where my work has really developed and I’ve really relished the opportunity to get my teeth into our work. Thanks so much to everyone for all the help and support over the year. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in for 20–21. Exciting times!

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Dyfrig Williams

Dyfrig Williams

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Cymraeg! Music fan. Cyclist. Scarlet. Work for @researchip. Views mine / Barn fi.