It turned out that my experience was relatively mild in terms of the hostility that new managers often seemed to face. Part way through the induction course, I had a sort of cathartic emotional moment in which the pressure I had experienced through that first 18 months struck me as about not just authority, but more specifically potency. The job of the more anxious members of the team was to render me impotent, so as to make me safe – the reputation of the agency from which I had moved to become a manager had gone before me, and it seemed the team feared that they were going to be psychoanalysed. My, to me gentle, interpretation of the officer’s anxiety about supervision played right into these anxieties. I of course had found the experience difficult because it played upon my own anxieties about being a potent manager.
I thought then that I was having to relearn in this new role, something that I had struggled with as a practitioner. Coping with the experience of feeling impotent had been a necessary feature of clinical work, as I have already discussed. I had to struggle with it again in every post that I took – the struggle was not something that once resolved, you then moved on to other issues. It seemed to be a necessary part of the experience to be reworked and reworked throughout my career. Once I had reached this point, life seemed to get easier, partly because of the support I received on the course, partly because the make up of the team had changed with new officers arriving who carried none of the baggage that the inherited team had carried, but also no doubt because I relaxed somewhat and therefore worked better with those who were suspicious of me.