Nurturing Each Other's Professional Growth
How can social work colleagues nurture each other's professional growth?
One way is to provide constructive feedback.
Sometimes, social workers shy away from doing this to avoid conflicts. They fear that feedback might be misconstrued as a personal attack and refrain from pointing out mistakes or holding back suggesting ways to improve practice. Sugarcoating feedback might cushion the blow but the impact of the message might be lost. However, saying it 'like it is' can be rather cold and may not exude the empathy that we social workers are known to have.
Another way to nurture professional growth is to adopt a growth mindset. Social workers who are new to the field will encounter challenging situations that the more senior workers have attuned to. Some would not be skilled enough to deal with clients who are verbally abusive. Some might not have enough experience to detect or assess safety risks. Some may not have enough knowledge of resources that they could tap for their clients in need. While casework is very much an individual worker-client relationship, having a group of social work peers and colleagues will strengthen the social worker's immunity to these challenges.
Having a growth mindset means encouraging a highly nurturing environment. Workers make it their responsibility to ensure they keep themselves updated with the latest in research findings, changes in social policies, the existence of new schemes and services within and external to their work agencies. Colleagues with a growth mindset provide guidance to each other and are open to feedback, regardless of status.
Nurturing each other's professional growth also requires everyone to be sensitive to each other's mental and physical health when dealing with the workload. Timely emotional support, when extended with genuine care and concern, will enhance each other's ability to remain resilient when facing challenges.