I recently helped out at the Yorkshire and Humber Welcome Event for the new 2018 trainees as well as their placement and programme managers. It was great to see the enthusiasm and excitement in the room, not just from the trainees but their managers as well. I could use this blog to focus on the enthusiasm of the trainees and how important this is for the scheme, and it definitely is! But instead I’ve decided to focus on the placement and programme managers and the pivotal role they play in helping the trainees make the most of the scheme.
So first a bit of background about these two roles…
- Programme Manager – this manager is with you for the duration of the time you’re on the scheme, across all your placements. They tend to be at a high level within the placement organisation and you should meet with them on a monthly basis. They are responsible for helping to organise your orientation and signing off your flexi-placement. As they tend to be higher up in the organisation they can help you network with senior leaders in the organisation and help signpost you to good development opportunities.
- Placement Manager – this manager is specific to your placement – you’ll have a different one for each placement. Often they’re also your line manager, but not always. You should meet with them on a fortnightly basis. They’re responsible to signing off your competencies, making sure your workload is at the right level and generally monitoring how you are getting on at your placement.
So, what makes a good placement or programme manager? I should start this with a disclaimer, that these are just my personal opinions and my fellow trainees may have a different view.
For me, to ensure that you get the most from your placement and your placement gets the most out of you I think it’s really important that your manager makes you feel welcome, by doing simple things like making sure you have a desk and computer equipment, introducing you to the team you’ll be working with and showing you round the organisation where you’ll be based. Some of you make be thinking that all of this goes without saying, but I know trainees where this hasn’t been the case and it can leave them feeling completely demoralised. It made such a difference to me that my managers and team made me feel part of the team straight away, so I could quickly get stuck into the work they’d planned for me.
A common mistake that many trainees make is thinking that just being busy means they’ll be meeting their competencies, but this is not necessarily true. Placement and programme managers can help the trainee make sure that the work they are doing will actually help them meet their competencies and help them fill any gaps. I’m not saying that trainees have no responsibility in this area. Ultimately it is a trainee led experience and we have the fundamental responsibility to make sure that the work we’re doing meets the requirements of the scheme, but it’s really useful to have a second pair of eyes to make sure we’re on the right track.
There is no getting away from the fact that this scheme is challenging. I’d be lying if I said I’d never gone home and thought, ‘what an earth am I doing?!’ – usually when I’ve had a busy week at work and UCL deadlines are looming!! Good programme and placement managers will have the time to listen to trainees and provide an open environment where trainees can ask for help and support. It can make such a difference. I’m not saying that trainees should be mollycoddled, after all this is a graduate scheme, but I think this sort of environment should be encouraged in all organisations to foster an atmosphere where staff can say if they’re struggling. Anyway I’ll get off my soapbox now! ?
Basically your Placement and Programme Managers can have a real impact on your time on the scheme, so it’s really important that you and they work together so that your time on the scheme is the best it can possibly be.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on Twitter @JessyDouble