This case study covers: Issues for former trainees – Settling into work and passing 6 month probation review
James was a former service user who successfully completed the GROW trainee scheme and was seen during his placement as a capable member of staff with a lot of potential.
At the time of completion there were not any support work vacancies being advertised so he was offered a short-term contract as a night worker in the hostel he had his placement in. This enabled the hostel to fill a vacancy but also gave James more experience.
James completed a 3-month contract without any concerns and had proved to be a reliable member of staff. There was often challenging behaviour and substance use in the hostel and James had been able to deal with incidents and issues calmly and in a constructive way.
Because of this, and James’s expressed wish to gain more experience in actual key working, when a vacancy came up for project worker he was offered a short-term contract ‘acting up’ until the vacancy was filled. He then applied for the permanent position and was successful.
Whilst on his short-term contract it was clear that James had a lot of strong points: he was conscientious, hard working and had a good grasp of the issues involved.
One of the areas he needed to work on was his work with external agencies. James was very strong on advocating for residents but this meant he was often overly assertive with other agencies, and needed to develop his diplomacy skills. This was agreed with him at the offer stage.
At the 3-month stage of his probation period, James had made progress and was working well with his key clients. The issue of diplomacy was still coming up, though, and he was often at loggerheads with other agencies, which could lead to a resident’s needs not being met as effectively as they would be if James took a more negotiable approach.
Although there were no formal complaints made, some colleagues from other agencies had expressed concerns. From discussions in supervision with James it emerged that he felt that he needed to prove himself, and that he had to push hard to effect a change in people’s lives and get things done for his clients.
He felt that any weaknesses in his work let himself down, as well as all the people who had invested so much in him via the GROW scheme. At this point he and his supervisor agreed that he should work on seeing himself as others saw him – as a project worker who had gained his position from a successful recruitment process. He was also encouraged to relax into his role.
As with any other project worker, if the goals set in his 3-month review were not met then his probationary period would be extended. During the following 3 months James met some of these goals but not all – and so his probationary period was extended. If he continued to progress, management felt he would most likely be confirmed in post at the 9-month point.
James was given support via supervision and training as well as being encouraged to talk to his fellow project workers. The pressures and difficulties of the job were common to them all, and they had helpful advice about the job.
James’ supervisor also talked to him about the support available to him outside work and encouraged him to make use of it. In James’s case he was still in contact with his life coach whom he could talk to about managing his work/life balance.
During this time, James made significant improvements in his work – he began to employ different techniques for dealing with different residents (rather than one approach) and to develop the skills to negotiate with outside agencies, particularly move-on projects. He overcame his initial shortcomings and was successfully confirmed in post at 9 months.
The support provided within work was the same as what would be given to other members of staff, e.g. identifying gaps in skills, setting clear goals and expectations, training and supervision, a discussion of the outside/personal factors that are affecting that person’s performance in work, and at times a shove in the right direction (e.g. when to take leave, when to seek some support outside of work).