Team Leader of the Year, Children’s Services
ORGANISATION: Essex County Council
AWARD(S): Team Leader of the Year, Children's Services
Bianka’s colleagues describe her as representing the benchmark against which all other managers should be measured. Her success in this this category is founded on virtues – calmness, leading by example, making time for others – that may sound uncomplicated but are crucial when it comes to building successful teams in high-pressure environments.
After 12 years in the Chelmsford assessment and intervention team, which she’s managed since 2013, Bianka certainly knows her own working environment well. Though she no longer carries a caseload, she’s always willing to support others by attending visits and meetings – in doing so benefiting her own understanding of cases and offering service users the option of talking through concerns with a manager.
Bianka has also helped her staff develop through a variety of routes, including encouraging them to go on secondments in order to better understand how other teams operate. She has fostered the development of individual specialisms – housing and benefits, for example – creating a pool of knowledge within the team.
While staff who work with Bianka are therefore well-equipped for career progression, it’s notable that turnover in her team is low. No wonder one of the judges commented: “I’d love to give her a job.”
WHAT THEY SAID:
The role of first line manager is so critical. It’s a difficult role which needs a sense of calm and Bianka does this really well. She takes on really difficult situations, often working into the night, and never makes people feel like they’re on their own. Good social work flourishes in the environment she has created.
Sherry Malik, Director of Children’s Services, Development and Delivery, NSPCC
Bianka provides a safe environment which gives her team the freedom to be a bit more creative.
Val Floy, Chief Operating Officer, The Children’s Society
She has created a very secure, safe feeling team around her. That is a skill that feels invaluable and I feel very lucky to be part of that. In a very stressful and volatile job at times, Bianka is a sea of calm that brings us all back down – and I don’t know where we would be without her!
She has been a wonderful support to me in my first tentative steps as a Service Manager. I had never realised how much lies beneath that quiet exterior and have been pleasantly surprised by her depth of knowledge, professionalism and commitment to the team and the families we support.
Gaye Coyle, Service Manager
Jean Beynon, Devon County Council
Juanita Scallon, Devon County Council
Karen Green, Worcestershire County Council
SILVER AWARD WINNER
Michelle Evans, Cafcass