From education to employment

Dave is ‘streets ahead’ in his new management role

Dave Nicol is a Senior Support Worker with Streets Ahead in Duns, and has recently completed the SCQF Level 7 Management course through the Department of Enterprise and Business Innovation (DEBI) at Borders College.

Dave moved into a management role just as a national lockdown was introduced, and quickly recognised that he needed to improve his skills and knowledge in this area. Read his story below:

My employers, Streets Ahead, offered me a promotion in February 2020 into management. I wasn’t under any illusions that this was going to be an easy transition for me if I accepted the post. After thinking about it and recognising that Streets Ahead management would support me fully, I accepted the post.

Unfortunately, when I started my new post, the Government announced the first national lockdown. This unprecedented event made moving into my new role a bit unusual, to say the least. I walked into a position awash with new emergency legislation that directly affected my role and responsibilities. However, lockdown aside, it quickly became apparent to me that, to be effective in my new position, I would have to rethink and develop my people-management skills. This included managing myself, as well as others.

After a short while in the job, I was working on a reactionary basis to instructions from line managers and constantly playing catch up. Bear in mind, however, these were extraordinary times for the sector and still are. To resolve these issues and become pro-active in my role, I needed to identify the areas I was lacking in skills and address them.

My main setback was that my skills and knowledge of social care weren’t being shared effectively with staff, due to my inexperience of managing others. In hindsight, at this point I was trying to manage a team on an ad hoc “lead by example” fashion, and didn’t recognise the importance of certain processes.

I was starting to feel a bit discouraged and confused with different aspects of my job. I reflected that I wasn’t performing to my full potential and brought it up at my first joint review since being promoted.

After sitting down and discussing this with my line manager, we identified areas where I felt I needed to develop my skills. At the top of this list was methods of managing staff. This resulted in her suggesting I enrol on a PDA in Managing Self and the Work of Others at SCQF Level 7 course at Borders College.

I saw this as an excellent opportunity to turn things around and clarify my objectives.

I was a bit nervous at my first online session, but Alan Elder, my tutor, quickly put me at ease when he went over the way it worked and what our joint objectives were. I felt that Alan and myself started to build a positive professional relationship from day one, which helped a lot. When I was given my first criteria to work on, he went through the best way to tackle it. He explained to me about being able to methodically link the criteria and offered some charts and dialogue examples, where I could see clearly what he meant.

During the course it became apparent to me that although I took part in all of the following processes, I hadn’t been recognising the vital importance of how they all must work together to be fully effective.

  • Staff joint review and appraisal process
  • New staff induction process
  • Recognising limitations of staff
  • Recognising potential in staff and nurturing it
  • Interpreting company/national policy and applying it
  • Having measurable plans and goals in place to gauge outcomes
  • Team meetings and communication
  • Monitoring trends for forward planning


By studying the criteria and chatting to Alan, I also became aware of how important it is to focus on individuals’ strengths and weaknesses and how important it is to take them into account when allocating tasks. The joint review and appraisals processes is an excellent tool for measuring development and then addressing any issues with strategic plans of action.

In a nutshell, the course made me focus on areas that I didn’t fully understand the importance of when managing myself and others. I now understand why we place such importance on the processes I have bullet-pointed above.

I have also learnt the importance of prioritising tasks and mapping them out in a smart fashion to gauge results and make them measurable for all to see, and how to take appropriate action when need be.

Before going on this course, I wasn’t using the management tools at my disposal in a systematic fashion.

I have now reached a point where I can better manage my own workload and responsibilities in a more organised fashion, building upon my own confidence with a greater understanding around management. At Streets Ahead we are always looking to recruit enthusiastic and forward-thinking individuals. Go to our website for further information by clicking here.

Borders College Tutor/Assessor Alan Elder, who taught Dave throughout, commented:

“We worked through the qualification using a combination of written assignments and professional discussion sessions. We had weekly catch-up sessions, which helped us break things down into smaller portions and set weekly targets.

“As Dave is in full-time employment, this worked well, allowing him time to focus on work and complete his award. He has been an excellent candidate to work with – always completing assignments on time and to a very high standard.”

If you are interested in studying towards a management qualification at Borders, click here to see the courses available.

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