School Business Leadership

Ask Anna – Tips for a new SBM

Dear Anna, I’ve been working as a Finance Officer for 5 years and I have been promoted to School Business Manager (in the same school) from September. We are a small Academy. I’m excited, but I’m not getting a ‘handover’ and reality is starting to kick in now and I’m getting nervous. Any tips to help me settle in?  Newbie SBM

Dear Newbie SBM,

First of all, congratulations on your promotion to SBM and welcome to the profession. There is so much I could tell you but every SBM role (and every school) is slightly different in the way it functions so I will stick to just a few useful ‘start-you-off’ nuggets of advice.

1. You are not alone. The SBM role can seem quite an isolated one in a school. You are often part of every team in the school but you bring something different. Look on that as a positive thing and use it to help promote discussion and challenge. Meanwhile, join your local SBM groups and NASBM so that you have access to all the support that is out there. I would also recommend setting yourself up on Twitter and following other SBMs. There is a lot of conversation going on and you will pick up loads more tips than I have space for here as well as make new friends.

2. Look after you. This job can be overwhelming but a stressed-out, over-worked, sleep-deprived wreck who hasn’t seen their family in weeks is no good to anyone. Get a team around you that can support you and even if the piles of paper on your desk do look like they are about to topple, GO HOME. It will still be there in the morning.

3. Diarise Deadlines. The SBM role involves some immovable deadlines that matter. Find out what they are, get them in your diary and also plan towards them so that there aren’t any last minute panics. Some will involve external support that you need to book well in advance.

4. Look for some Quick Wins. Let’s face it, in a brand new job, you will want to impress the Boss. Propose and implement some inexpensive improvements to systems or the physical environment. You’ve probably already got loads of ideas but have a look at your predecessors PA targets, to give you an idea of the Boss’s priorities.

5. Get out there. As Finance Officer you were probably chained to a desk but an SBM needs to be visible. Walk around the site, talk to all the staff, get involved, ask if you can sit in lessons, find out what is important to everyone as this is what will help inform your direction of travel.

A new role is such an exciting time. Take each day as it comes with good humour, calm authority and a professional attitude and you will soon make the job your own.

You’ve got this.


If you’d like to ‘Ask Anna’ please email All emails will be read and I hope to be able to answer some of them via this blog. I look forward to hearing from you.

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