Estate Planning Manager Vanessa Caverley with actress Cath Tyldesley from Coronation Street

From mate to manager

Vanessa Calverley, an Estate Planning Lead (EPL) in Funeralcare, tells us about the struggles she’s faced stepping up to her new role and the light bulb moments she had when attending the ‘Mate to manager’ course, an introductory session aimed at colleagues new to line management roles.

I’ve been with the Co-op nearly 11 years. I started as a Funeral Arranger then became a Funeral Director so I’ve got a lot of experience across the board. This has really helped in my role as Estate Planning Lead.

Big challenge

Moving into this role has been totally overwhelming at some points. I knew it was going to be a massive challenge but I don’t think I quite took on board how much of a challenge.

I now lead a team of 18 Funeral Arrangers from over 17 funeral homes in the Tameside and Oldham region so it’s quite a big responsibility. I’m trying to do my best for everybody. It does slightly change the way I can be with people that have previously been my peers. So when the opportunity to do this course came up I grabbed it.

Light bulb moments

I’d met a few people who said that anyone stepping up to a management role would really benefit from this course.

We went through various scenarios and were given practical advice on how to handle things. One of the light bulb moments for me was realising that I didn’t have to know everything. The way I viewed it before was if I didn’t know the answer on the spot I would be letting someone down, so the realisation that I didn’t have to be the oracle on everything made me feel relieved.

Helping colleagues help themselves

I also realised that I need to encourage my team to find out the information themselves by looking at the intranet or speaking with other colleagues. The last resort should be coming to me. That way I’m empowering my team, helping them learn and developing their self confidence.

Vanessa’s top tips on coping with being a new manager

  • It’s OK to be honest about the way you feel – there are lots of people feeling the same way.
  • It’s OK to feel overwhelmed.
  • There’s lots of support out there on the intranet, from Admin Excellence Managers or Admin Excellence needs, you just need to let them know.
  • Nobody’s perfect. We’re all constantly learning and finding our feet.

My role model

My senior funeral director is someone I look up to. She’s really supported me throughout the whole process of applying for the role, coaching me for my interview and giving me advice. She’s a really important role model to me and my whole team.

I hope in time my team feel that way about me.

Vanessa Calverley
Estate Planning Lead, Funeralcare

Picture above: Vanessa with Coronation Street star Cath Tyldesley filming Kylie’s funeral on set