Free article: Developing the next generation of leaders

Published: Monday, 17 June 2019

Andy Tilden, CEO for Skills for Care, looks at why now is the time for adult social care providers to develop the next generation of leaders.


  • 10,000 registered managers are due to retire in the next 15 years, and there is a 20% annual turnover of managers nationally, so the need for succession planning is essential.
  • CQC ratings reveal that services without a registered manager are twice as likely to fall below the fundamental standards.
  • Bespoke development programmes for aspiring managers are a great way of building the confidence and abilities necessary to meet the challenges of the care manager role. 
  • The Workforce Development Fund helps to cover some of the cost of developing aspiring managers and deputies.
  • Succession planning is an effective way of strengthening the capacity of your team. It supports your existing manager, and helps to retain the people who are best-placed to help you deliver high standards of care.

An effective and well-trained deputy will provide crucial support to their registered manager, who is then better able to delegate work to staff, take opportunities to prioritise their own development and share responsibilities with others.

The need for succession planning

When a registered manager leaves their post and there is no back-up plan, that lack of stability or continuity will impact directly on the quality of care. There is a 20% annual turnover of registered managers nationally, so every adult social care employer needs to have systems in place to mitigate the risk of losing their registered manager.

At the beginning of 2019, 11% of regulated adult social care services didn’t have a registered manager in post, and CQC ratings reveal that services without a registered manager are twice as likely to fall below the fundamental standards. Creating a pipeline of new care managers is crucial for our sector and Skills for Care believes that all regulated care providers, regardless of size, should always be working towards this.

Being a registered manager is a complex and challenging role, yet many existing managers report that they didn’t feel ready for the job when they first started. Too frequently it seems that new registered managers are beginning care management qualifications after they’ve been appointed into the position. Skills for Care believes it’s important that your next registered manager arrives in post with the skills and experience they need to be successful.

Identify and develop talent

It’s true that it will take time to develop the experience and qualifications needed to be a good registered manager, but if you have recruited effectively there will be an abundance of talent within your service. The key is providing opportunities that let people expand their role and touch on areas of care management that they can get valuable experience in.

Whether they progress to become a manager or not, you will find that developing talent enables you to find the right people for a range of existing or new roles across your service, including team leaders, deputies, care coordinators, learning and development leads and quality assurance.

Employers need to think how they can put in place a wide range of development opportunities in every type and size of care service. These could include shadowing managers, developing and supervising other staff, visiting other services, networking, leading projects or taking on new managerial tasks.

Those learning opportunities will provide a useful insight into the role of care managers and help identify aspiring managers and deputies who are ready to progress to a more formal development opportunity.

Developing aspiring managers and deputies

Bespoke development programmes are a great way of building aspiring managers’ confidence and abilities for the challenges of the care manager role.

Over the last two years, Skills for Care has been piloting a more formal development programme for aspiring managers, which helps to prepare individuals for team leader, deputy or care manager positions.

Skills for Care recommends that you incorporate the following into your development programme: Lead to Succeed and the Manager Induction Standards.

Lead to Succeed

Lead to Succeed is a five-day development programme delivered over three months that introduces aspiring managers and deputies to successful behaviours for leaders and managers, and shows how to develop a positive culture, deliver effective supervision, and manage change and the CQC inspection process.

Manager Induction Standards

The Manager Induction Standards deepen understanding by providing an insight into a range of skills related to care management and competencies, including governance, relationships and partner workers, professional development, decision-making and entrepreneurship.

The feedback from the current Lead to Succeed cohort has been extremely positive:

‘Embrace and enjoy the Aspiring Managers programme. It gives you great knowledge of leadership and management qualities.’

‘It’s been invaluable. The whole course has been fantastic and I would recommend it to other aspiring managers.’

Skills for Care also encourages aspiring managers to look at the Level 4 Certificate in Principles of Leadership and Management for Adult Care. This knowledge-based qualification is the first part of the Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management for Adult Care, which is the preferred qualification for those aiming to be a registered manager.

Doing the Level 4 certificate means that when the time comes to step up into a managerial position then the time it takes to complete the remaining parts of the Level 5 Diploma is much quicker, and your future registered managers are better prepared.

Investing in future managers

It’s a tough operating environment out there for adult social care providers, and the Workforce Development Fund (WDF), which Skills for Care disseminates for the Department of Health and Social Care, helps to cover some of the cost of developing aspiring managers and deputies.

Lead to Succeed, the Level 4 Certificate in Principles of Leadership and Management for Adult Care, and the Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management for Adult Care are all partially funded through WDF to support employers to help cover these costs.

But funding alone is not enough, and your future managers will still need to be nurtured and supported. Our Aspiring Managers pilot highlighted the difference between providers that are able to invest peer support from their own managers and leaders in the development of others and those providers unable to commit this support. Where support was provided, many of the aspiring managers flourished.

The engagement we’ve seen in the Aspiring Managers pilots, the uptake of our WDF and what we’re hearing from providers about their own development programmes suggest that succession planning is something many adult social care employers are now very serious about.

Future proofing

With all this in mind, Skills for Care strongly encourages those who haven’t yet set their own succession planning in motion not to wait any longer. If we accept that skilled and confident managers are the key to quality service delivery, then it’s in the interests of every provider to continually develop their future managers and leaders. If those systems are put in place successfully, the people we serve will be accessing well-led services that can meet their individual needs.

Further information


Use the following items in the Toolkit to put the ideas in the article into practice:

About the author

Andy Tilden is interim CEO of Skills for Care and is a long-standing member of Skills for Care’s leadership team. He has previously worked in residential care, in the NHS as a trainer and manager, in juvenile justice, child protection and learning disability services and as a social worker.

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