The commitment, support, influence and authority of senior managers are vital in addressing staff resistance to the concept of service user employment.
Senior management support and commitment
It was very important that senior managers at Thames Reach were committed to and supportive of the GROW scheme. In this way, staff knew that support for the scheme extended to the very highest levels of the organisation.
This meant that when problems arose, solutions could be found and implemented quickly due to the authority that these managers carried.
Involving influential sceptics as ‘friendly critics’
One of our senior managers was somewhat sceptical of the initiative when it first began.
We knew he was well-intentioned and were keen to utilise his knowledge and concerns. We therefore created a role of ‘friendly critic’ for him on the Steering Group for GROW.
This enabled us to welcome his concerns, and find a positive expression for them, while at the same time providing a useful check and balance for the enthusiasts.
Issue directives when needed
One manager made his position very clear: he did not support or believe in the GROW initiative.
While he was not going to block the scheme from moving forward, he would also not encourage his managers to take part. No amount of discussion or evidence would change his mind about the perceived ills of GROW.
In the first year, while this created extra work and some mixed messages in the line-management of his teams, it did not cause any major problems.
However, at the start of the second year of GROW, there was a miscommunication about whether one of his teams would take a trainee.
His ‘hands-off’ approach was no longer viable and he was ultimately directed to confirm with one of his team managers that they would act as a placement team for a trainee.