What do you think are the key challenges affecting human service organizations today? How well are our organizations and professions adapting to a dynamic environment?
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Book: Management of Human Service Programs
Judith A. Lewis
ACHIEVING AND MAINTAINING ORGANIZATIONAL EXCELLENCE CHAPTER 12 The purpose of this book has been to provide professionals in human service programs with an introduction to the field of management. Several assumptions underlie this purpose. One is that professionals in service delivery, although for the most part trained as direct practitioners, stand a good chance of moving into managerial positions relatively early in their careers and therefore should have at least a rudimentary exposure to the theory and practice of administration. The second assumption is that the helping professions, as a result of the first assumption, are responding to the challenge of management facing their members by providing formal training in this method of practice. Some graduate programs in social work, public administration or public affairs, not-for-profit management, and business administration offer specializations in management education for human service workers. This book is intended to contribute to the managerial con- tent of such programs from a human service perspective. A third assumption is that HSO direct service staff with some management training and knowledge will be more aware of the context, system dynamics, and views of managers and other stakeholders of the organization. Such direct service workers, to the extent that they understand a managerial perspective and can incorporate this into their own worldview, will be more effective in influencing managers to make better decisions or to create or allow change to benefit clients and the community. These workers will also have deeper insight into the heretofore mysterious or inexplicable behavior of the managers in their organizations, which should help them both influence these managers and accept some organizational realities that cannot be changed, such as responding to accountability requirements of funding organizations. We will now briefly review where we have been, starting with planning as a response to the complex human service environments and needs for service. We will look at how the design of organizations and programs should be based on chosen strategies, and we will consider the importance of other subsystems (human resources, information and evaluation, and financial systems). Finally, the need for constant organizational change and the essential role of leadership in pull- ing things together will be emphasized. Continuing in this vein, we will examine ways in which ongoing growth and renewal can occur at the individual, group, and organizational levels. After discussing the skills and education that human ser- vice managers will need in the years to come and how they can effectively make the transition to management, we will close with some observations on prospects in the future for human service administration. HUMAN SERVICE MANAGEMENT FUNCTIONS: A SYSTEMS PERSPECTIVE The most salient elements of the human service managerial process have now been covered in some detail. Together, these elements, or functions, constitute a managerial system. As part of a system, the managerial elements, or subsystems, comprise a set of interrelated and interdependent parts operating synergistically to produce efficient and effective organizational outputs and outcomes. All sub- systems of the managerial process—planning, budgeting, designing, staffing, supervising, evaluating—are critical to the viability of the overall system. Syn- ergy means that the effect of all the parts working together is greater than the sum of the effects of the subsystems taken independently: in other words, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. At the same time, however, synergy implies that a system’s strength is diminished by the weaknesses of its parts. Additionally, all the subsystems must be aligned with one another: they must be based on similar design principles and values and must be oriented toward the same goals. The important implication of the systems approach for human service man- agers is that proficiency in all of the functions of the managerial process is essential for successful managerial performance. We will now take a final look at the human service management model presented in Chapter 1. MANAGING THE ENVIRONMENT A human service manager will need to monitor trends in the environment constantly, from the local and state levels to the federal and, sometimes, the global level. Political trends including devolution of formerly federal responsibili- ties, privatization of services, and increased accountability demands are likely to continue. Macroeconomic trends will always be relevant: in good times there may be increased funds for prevention, and in bad times less funding will be avail- able when it is needed most. Social and organizational complexity will, if any- thing, increase, requiring managers to look clearly at wider aspects of society and anticipate change further into the future. Needs assessments, asset mapping, com- munity collaboration, and advocacy will all help the manager and the agency deal with the environment. PLANNING AND PROGRAM DESIGN For the human service manager to survive and achieve in today’s human service organizations, he or she must have knowledge and skills in the planning process, including assessment of the environment; the determination of strategy and goals, and their alignment with organizational mission and purpose; and the specification of program objectives, based on program goals, and their formulation in measur- able terms. Strategic planning has emerged as an effective method for integrating the organization’s mission and internal strengths and weaknesses with opportu- nities and threats in the environment. Thoughtful attention must be paid to the consideration and selection of program models and activities (including their possi- ble social, economic, political, and legal consequences and the use of evidence- based practices) designed to meet program objectives and goals and to satisfy the organization’s mission. ORGANIZATIONAL THEORY Organizational theories—from the traditional bureaucracy and scientific management approaches, through the human relations insights from the Hawthorne studies, to con- temporary human resources approaches that maximize employee involvement—are all in evidence today. Systems theory and developments such as empowerment theory also offer useful perspectives for human service organizations. Contingency theory sum of the effects of the subsystems taken independently: in other words, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. At the same time, however, synergy implies that a system’s strength is diminished by the weaknesses of its parts. Additionally, all the subsystems must be aligned with one another: they must be based on similar design principles and values and must be oriented toward the same goals. The important implication of the systems approach for human service man- agers is that proficiency in all of the functions of the managerial process is essential for successful managerial performance. We will now take a final look at the human service management model presented in Chapter 1. MANAGING THE ENVIRONMENT A human service manager will need to monitor trends in the environment constantly, from the local and state levels to the federal and, sometimes, the global level. Political trends including devolution of formerly federal responsibili- ties, privatization of services, and increased accountability demands are likely to continue. Macroeconomic trends will always be relevant: in good times there may be increased funds for prevention, and in bad times less funding will be avail- able when it is needed most. Social and organizational complexity will, if any- thing, increase, requiring managers to look clearly at wider aspects of society and anticipate change further into the future. Needs assessments, asset mapping, com- munity collaboration, and advocacy will all help the manager and the agency deal with the environment. PLANNING AND PROGRAM DESIGN For the human service manager to survive and achieve in today’s human service organizations, he or she must have knowledge and skills in the planning process, including assessment of the environment; the determination of strategy and goals, and their alignment with organizational mission and purpose; and the specification of program objectives, based on program goals, and their formulation in measur- able terms. Strategic planning has emerged as an effective method for integrating the organization’s mission and internal strengths and weaknesses with opportu- nities and threats in the environment. Thoughtful attention must be paid to the consideration and selection of program models and activities (including their possi- ble social, economic, political, and legal consequences and the use of evidence- based practices) designed to meet program objectives and goals and to satisfy the organization’s mission. ORGANIZATIONAL THEORY Organizational theories—from the traditional bureaucracy and scientific management approaches, through the human relations insights from the Hawthorne studies, to con- temporary human resources approaches that maximize employee involvement—are all in evidence today. Systems theory and developments such as empowerment theory also offer useful perspectives for human service organizations. Contingency theoryenables organization designers to select the most appropriate theories and models for a particular situation. ORGANIZATION DESIGN Organization design, as we pointed out earlier, is both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it describes the two components of an organization’s design: structures, represented by organizational charts, and processes such as decision making and communication that cannot be seen on a chart. As a verb, organization design is the process for determining how the different parts will be organized and work together. Staff task forces can be formed to develop a design that proposes the best structures and processes for an organization at a given time. HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT SUPERVISION After the overall organization is designed to fit agency strategies and programs, individual jobs must be designed to fit the model chosen for a particular program. Jobs should be designed to accomplish program purposes and be fulfilling for staff. Then, criteria for jobs must be developed and staff must be hired. New staff mem- bers need to be oriented, and an ongoing program of staff training and develop- ment should be created. Staff should be evaluated annually, using behaviorally based formats. Striving for a diverse agency workforce is important. This will ensure compliance with relevant laws and executive orders and also increase the likelihood that the workforce will be able to respond to clients in culturally appro- priate ways. The use of volunteers and employee assistance programs are other important aspects of human resource management. Human resources are nurtured through the supervision process. An effective su- pervision relationship begins with the use of appropriate models of motivation and leadership. Contingency theory operates here: no two workers are motivated in the same way, and various styles of leadership may be appropriate depending on the situation. Staff members also need to be rewarded fairly and appropriately. Attention to all of these factors will contribute greatly to the effectiveness of a pro- gram’s services by valuing and fully using staff—the agency’s most important resource. FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT After the program model has been identified and the necessary staff selected, budgeting can begin, usually by estimating expenditures. An annual budget is created and may be updated during the year. Specialized techniques such as cutback manage- ment, zero-based budgeting, and cost-effectiveness analysis can at times be useful as aids to decision making. Fund-raising and writing proposals for grants or contracts are key management activities. Part of the accountability process is the preparation of periodic financial reports and the completion of an annual fiscal audit. INFORMATION SYSTEMS A well-designed information system can enhance an organization’s effectiveness and responsiveness and raise an employee’s sense of satisfaction and purpose. Man- agers should bear these points in mind to avoid having an information system designed only to meet external accountability and evaluation needs without being fully valued or supported by staff. An IS should be designed with careful attention to information needs (related to program outcomes, for example) and should include significant participation by staff who will be using the system. Such a sys- tem will probably involve the use of computers, the potential applications of which are increasing daily. The system should meet both internal needs (for feed- back, program modification, and employee satisfaction) and external needs related to accountability and program evaluation. PROGRAM EVALUATION Evaluations may have several purposes, ranging from aiding in decision making and improving programs to building support and demonstrating accountability. Evaluations may look at processes or outcomes. There is increasing interest in out- come evaluation. Using evaluation findings for program enhancement, involving all significant actors in the evaluation process, and taking multiple approaches in the determination of service effectiveness are key considerations that today’s human service manager must address in the quest for organizational achievement. Evaluation takes us full circle. We began by assessing the social problems in our environment that human services are intended to address, and then discussed how agencies can respond to these needs through agency planning and program design. We then reviewed aspects of well-designed organizations, including effective human resources and supervision practices and financial and information systems to monitor progress and accomplishments. Ultimately, the implementation of these systems and their results are assessed by evaluation. LEADERSHIP AND ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE Leaders can make essential contributions to organizational effectiveness. In today’s dynamic human service environment, change is a constant, and leaders play key roles as change agents in their organizations. In addition to leaders, other staff, even at the line level, can and should function as change agents. Occasionally consultants can pro- vide valuable outside expertise to aid change processes. Planned change processes can help keep the organization maximally effective and responsive to its environment. We will now take a final look at the importance of leadership in human service management and then review some specific ways in which individuals, groups, and the organization as a whole can engage in ongoing change and development. PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER THROUGH LEADERSHIP The human service managerial system of interdependent and interacting elements is depicted in model form in Figure 12.1. It should be clear that leadership, at the center, is the unifying force among all the organizational subsystems. A key challenge for the organization, and particularly for managers/leaders, is to achieve and main- tain alignment among the functions. As we suggested in the previous chapter, top- level leadership is essential, but leadership throughout the organization, by many individuals, is equally essential. Leaders need to make sure that each subsystem is functioning well and that the subsystems are aligned, or functioning in harmony. Leadership FIGURE 12.1 | A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK FOR HUMAN SERVICE MANAGEMENT For example, a well-conceived strategic plan will go nowhere unless there are well-designed programs to implement strategies. Well-designed programs cannot be monitored unless an outcome-based information system is in place to allow tracking of activities and results. If staff members are not trained to implement the service delivery models in use, good results are not likely. If funds are not allocated to high-priority activities, failure and cynicism may result. If teamwork is preached but staff members are rewarded only on the basis of individual performance, team- work will not occur. If effective evaluation systems are not in use, managers and other staff members will not be able to answer questions regarding what has been accomplished: whether client and community problems have been solved and strategies have been successful. If there is a culture of attention to process rather than to results, or if going through the motions rather than innovating seems to be the norm, the organization will stagnate. Leaders need to pay constant attention to all the subsystems and to organizational climate and the quality of working life to ensure that success will occur. This requires, first, good management and good management systems. Leadership to articulate orga- nizational purpose, visions, and values and to manage constant change will be needed as well. We will now look at some of the ways that organizational excellence can be achieved and maintained at the individual, group, and organizational levels. GROWTH AND RENEWAL FOR THE MANAGER A human service worker intending to enter management should expect to develop skills in the areas outlined in this book. Additionally, some studies have been con- ducted about the particular skills needed on the part of human service managers. For example, Menefee (2009) reports that the social work manager’s role is varied, requiring a multitude of technical and interpersonal skills. Some of the skills found to be important were communicating, supervising staff, boundary spanning, plan- ning, organizing, team building, and advocating. To be effective in the demanding arena of human services, managers clearly will need a good deal of education, development, and training. In addition to enrolling in a university program offering specialized management education for the human services, a manager can take advantage of workshops, continuing edu- cation, or certification programs locally or nationally. A large city may have capac- ity building organizations offering workshops on not-for-profit management subjects ranging from leadership and strategic planning to financial management and writing grant proposals. Nationally, professional organizations (some listed at the end of this chapter) are valuable resources. The Network for Social Work Man- agers has established the Academy of Certified Social Work Managers to help ensure the competence of social work managers. Formal leadership development programs (Hernez-Broome & Hughes, 2004; Van Velsor, McCauley, & Ruderman, 2010) are available through specialized training organizations, in-house programs for a particular organization, and con- sortia in which similar organizations pool resources. In the human services field, a large-scale executive development program for county managers has operated in the San Francisco Bay area since 1994 (Austin, Weisner, Schrandt, Glezos-Bell, & Murtaza, 2006). A similar program has operated in Southern California since 2005 (Coloma, Gibson, & Packard, 2011). It should be noted that formal training programs are often considered to be only a minor part of leadership development (McCauley, 2008), with on-the-job experiences, challenges, setbacks, and learning from others seen as more important. Leadership development can include several components, often including some combination of off-site training/development programs; multisource or 360-degree feedback; the use of instruments filled out by individual participants on their man- agement styles or characteristics; executive coaching; mentoring; assessment cen- ters; action learning such as real-world problem solving, which includes an explicitfocus on what is being learned from the experience; and plans for applications of new knowledge and skills on the job. Training programs are probably the most common leadership development activity. These often include presentations on leadership models, assessment instru- ments on styles, structured experiential learning, and group discussions. However, structured sessions alone are not adequate for substantive development of a leader. They need to be augmented by other activities. 360-degree feedback involves using standardized management style or behavior instruments that are filled out by the manager and his or her supervisor, subordi- nates, and peers (Richardson, 2010). Instruments used typically let raters describe managerial behaviors observed and provide an assessment of their perceived effec- tiveness. Results are collated by a consultant or training organization and fed back to the manager anonymously. The consultant providing the feedback then helps the manager process the results and decide on action steps to improve skills or adjust styles. Instruments used in 360-degree feedback may describe a manager’s behaviors (for example, his or her perceived effectiveness in delegating, assigning work, supervising, and working with others) or the manager’s personal styles of interact- ing with others. One common instrument for the latter is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) (Hirsh & Kummerow, 1998). The MBTI, based on the work of C. G. Jung, measures eight personality preferences on four bipolar scales. Results can be interpreted to identify strengths and preferences in the workplace, suggest- ing preferred work settings and opportunities for development. Focusing only on identifying strengths, the StrengthsFinder (Buckingham & Clifton, 2001) identifies a manager’s “themes,” ranging from achiever and analyti- cal to self-assurance and strategic. Based on an individual’s profile, strategies can be developed to build on strengths in the work setting. In any such instrument, profiles show characteristics that tend to work best under particular circumstances. The challenge is not to change to a “better” style but rather to become aware of strengths and cautions in one’s preferred style and perhaps develop other styles, and then to use styles consciously, deliberately trying to meet the needs of a situation. Other important leadership development activities are coaching and mentoring. Executive coaching is probably the fastest growing leadership development model (McCauley, 2008). Coaching involves a consultant working with a manager to help improve the manager’s effectiveness. In contrast, mentoring involves a senior person in an organization working with a manager as mentee and focuses on career development, support, role modeling, and advising. A final important component of leadership development is action learning. This involves a group of participants in a leadership development program being given responsibility for addressing assigned organizational problems and develop- ing creative solutions. The process is later debriefed to identify individual and col- lective learning (McCauley, 2008). In addition to activities such as these, McCauley (2008), after a study of the lit- erature, reports five major categories of developmental events. One, coursework in training programs or advanced degree programs, was mentioned earlier. Others include challenging assignments, the influence of other people including bosses and role models, experiencing hardships such as downsizing or difficult subordinates, and personal life challenges. McCauley adds that successful leadership development includes alignment of leadership development objectives with business strategies, top-level executive support, shared responsibility between line managers and HR staff, manager accountability for the development of subordinates, competency models, multiple development methods, and evaluation. TEAM DEVELOPMENT The importance of group dynamics has been acknowledged in organizations since at least the Hawthorne studies of the 1920s. More recently, it has become clear that in today’s complex and dynamic organizations, teams are becoming an essen- tial element of ensuring that the work of the organization is getting done. In orga- nizations, many work groups hold meetings and perform activities involving communication and discussion. However, as any member of an organization can attest, not all work groups are teams. According to Johnson and Johnson (2009), in a work group, interdependence is low and accountability focuses on individual members, not the group as a whole. The product of a working group is the sum of all the work produced by its members. Members do not take responsibility for results other than their own. Members do not engage in tasks that require the combined work of two or more members. In meetings, members share information and make decisions that help each person do his or her job better, but the focus is always on individual performance (p. 527). In contrast, Johnson and Johnson suggest that a team “is more than the sum of its parts” (p. 528) and that for a team, there must be a compelling team purpose that is distinctive and specific, and that require the joint efforts of two or more members as well as individual work products. Teams not only meet to share information and perspectives and make decisions, they produce discrete work products through members’ joint efforts and contributions. (p. 528) Of course, not every work group needs to be a team in this sense: many work units meet to exchange information, solve problems, and make decisions without needing to become a team in the pure sense. However, as organizational environ- ments become more complex and staff members become more interdependent, the extra effort it takes to truly become and operate as a team may pay off in greater organizational effectiveness and efficiency, and perhaps an improved quality of working life for staff. Teams can be intact work groups that do some amount of shared work (for example, staff in a residential program), interdisciplinary teams in which people from different professions work with common clients (such as in a mental health program), cross-functional teams that meet to coordinate functions across organi- zational boundaries (management teams consisting of different program managers in an agency, for example), problem-solving groups (ad hoc groups to solve partic- ular problems), or permanent teams (for instance, quality improvement groups). Johnson and Johnson offer several suggestions for forming teams: 1. Keep the size of teams small…. 2. Select team members on the basis of their (a) expertise and skills and (b) potential for developing new expertise and skills, not on the basis of their position or personality…. 3. Bring together the resources the team will need to function, such as space, materials, information, time-lines, support personnel, and so forth. For structuring and nurturing the teams, they suggest the following: 1. Present the team with its mission, structure positive interdependence among group members…. 2. Have frequent and regular meetings that provide opportunities for team members to interact face-to-face and promote each other’s success…. 3. Pay particular attention to first meetings….
4. Establish clear rules of conduct….
5. Ensure accountability by directly measuring the progress of the team in achieving its goals and plot it on a quality chart….
6. Show progress….
7. Expose the team to new facts and information that helps it redefine and enrich its understanding of its mission, purpose, and goals…
8. Provide training to enhance both taskwork and teamwork skills….
9. Have frequent team celebrations and seek opportunities to recognizemembers’ contributions to team success….
10. Ensure frequent team-processing sessions. (p. 537)Work groups wanting to move toward becoming teams may benefit from an organization development intervention known as team building (Dyer, 1995). In this context, team building consists of identifying team members, making a com- mitment to the process, gathering data from team members, feeding data back to the team, joint problem solving or visioning, and action planning. Team building is best accomplished in a workshop setting, away from the work site, for a one- to three-day block of time, and usually involves an organization development consultant. Such a workshop, if successful, can provide the foundation for team- work on an ongoing basis in the work setting. Team-building sessions can be used for existing work groups wanting to improve their functioning or a newly formed team. Any work group or team operates within the context of the larger organiza- tion, which, depending on organizational culture and leadership, can enhance or stifle team behavior. A manager leading a team also functions as a boundary man- ager with other parts of the organization, which may at times involve negotiating on behalf of the team in furtherance of team goals. In an organization that is not supportive of team functioning, this role will, of course, be difficult to carry out, and this lack of support may need to be addressed through one of the organiza- tional change activities discussed in the previous chapter. Fortunately, organiza- tional cultures supportive of team behavior are increasingly seen as not only desirable but also essential to the accomplishment of the work of today’s complex organizations. ENSURING THE ONGOING GROWTH OF THE ORGANIZATION ORGANIZATIONAL LIFE CYCLES Theories of organizational life cycles suggest that organizations must be constantly alert to changes in their environments and internal conditions and must adapt effectively to survive and grow. Vinokur-Kaplan and Miller (2004) provide a useful model for describing the life cycle stages of a human service organization. At the start up, or organizational infancy, stage, the organization is entrepreneurial, with little structure, and uses informal managerial processes. The goal here is survival: creating and marketing programs. In the emerging growth, or organizational youth stage, collective or pre- bureaucratic structures and systems emerge. Things remain mostly informal, with some procedures developed. The goal at this stage is growth, and leaders need to begin to delegate while retaining basic control. At the next stage, maturity or organizational adulthood, formal and bureau- cratic systems are developed, with clear hierarchies, divisions of labor, rules, proce- dures, and control systems. The organization now focuses on developing internal stability while expanding services. Finally, the organization reaches revival, or organizational maturity. If over-bureaucratization can be avoided, effective struc- tures are developed, with teamwork and departmentation to ensure responsiveness to various client target populations. As the growing organization moves into the maturity stage, it may risk taking a turn toward an overly bureaucratic stage, in which standardized procedures may sti- fle initiative, creativity, or responsiveness to change. If this happens, the organization enters a stage of decline or stagnation in which the status quo is protected. If this sit- uation is not corrected, the organization may become irrelevant or ineffective, and go out of existence. The important point is that decline and stagnation can be pre- vented by revitalization, which can occur through quick and appropriate responses to environmental changes and a reexamination of the organization’s mission, pro- grams, and operations so that appropriate organizational changes may be made. The mature organization needs to develop renewal capabilities including organi- zational learning systems, proactive management of the environment such as strategic management and client responsiveness, visionary leadership, and attention to mana- gerial succession (developing lower-level staff as leaders of the future). This strategy will lead to new strategies and programs, with mergers or collaborations with other agencies becoming increasingly common. Employee empowerment and increased involvement with the community are additional activities that can contribute to renewal. In addition to performing environmental intelligence-
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