Complementing the work of others
As you usually work in a team environment, it is important that your work complements the work of others. This avoids confusion for clients and duplication of effort by staff.
To achieve this, you need to adopt a collaborative team approach. This means:
- respecting team members at all times
- staying focused on team goals, as well as the goals of individual team members.
- Communication needs to be open and ongoing, and may take a range of forms. Depending on the nature of the material, communication may:
- be formal or informal
- be verbal
- consist of telephone conversations
- take place at staff meetings
- be written, e.g. memos and letters.
All communication should take into account the rights of individuals to privacy and confidentiality, as well as organisational policies and procedures.
There are usually a range of avenues for obtaining additional support. These may include:
- informal discussions with your supervisor
- a request for additional support at an annual performance appraisal session
- a formal written request for support to the management of the organisation
- a request for additional support during a staff meeting
- a mentor from a professional network
- work colleague/s
- other specialists.
The method for requesting assistance will depend on the circumstances and urgency of need.
Verbal and written reporting skills
Often in a support team you will be required to give a brief verbal or written report on progress or issues that have arisen with clients. In making these reports, it is useful to ensure:
- The report is offered at the appropriate time.
- The report is a brief summary outlining the most important points.
- The report is objective: that is, it reports on facts, not your interpretation of the facts.
- The information is relevant to the discussion.
- The report respects the individual’s dignity and right to privacy and confidentiality.
- You follow organisational procedures, e.g. confidentiality requirements, use of standard formats for memos, and use of file notes (any handwritten notes must be legible).
Negotiation and conflict resolution skills
When you work in a team, it is inevitable that from time to time issues will arise that require negotiation and/or conflict resolution.
These issues may include:
- roles and responsibilities
- working with clients
- meeting times
- report deadlines
- differences over perceived client needs
- differences in values and attitudes.
In preparing to negotiate with other team members, you should consider the following points:
- Members of a team are likely to have the same goal but may have a different approach to achieving the goal.
- Individual styles of working in a team may be different but still contribute to the team as a whole.
- Open and ongoing communication is the key to success.
- It is important to maintain focus on the needs of clients, as well as considering the goals of the work group.
- Values may significantly influence behaviour.
Resources required to carrying out your role
You will need a variety of resources to carry out your role, some relating to direct support, others relating to administrative requirements of the job. Examples include:
Resources needed for direct support
- petty cash for train travel and outings
- information handouts and brochures
- hiring and/or maintenance of equipment
Resources for administrative tasks
- computer station
- fax/photocopy machine
- filing cabinet.
The availability of these resources will vary, depending on the nature of the work, funding levels and the way the organisation allocates their funding.
VOICE on The Community Door has more information.
Dealing with resource shortages
Lack of resources provided by the organisation may be a source of frustration. In terms of services provided, it may result in:
- long waiting lists
- lack of choice of service for clients
- lack of funding for training
- lack of appropriate housing
- lack of appropriate counselling and crisis intervention facilities
- support workers not having enough paid time to write up file notes
- lack of access to telephones
- lack of space to work in.
It is important to recognise these limitations and contribute to discussions on where resources are required; however, you should not allow lack of resources to become a source of stress overload.
In some instances, resource shortages may be avoided by good planning and monitoring supplies, reducing wastage and spending and requesting more before the shortage occurs.
Activity 1.6: Resources