What priorities govern agency Management?

Adhering to the guiding principles is essential for achieving agency excellence. The Management Team is responsible for agency Management, i.e., for assuring the successful functioning of the internal eco system. Members of the Team implement the policies, rules, and guidelines promulgated by Authorizers and Implementers as well as manage the day-to-day functioning of the agency. Their Management activities reflect a thorough understanding of and acceptance of each of the guiding principles. Team members also understand and accept the priorities discussed below in order to better assure the successful functioning of the internal eco system. Hannagan 1995 page 37-69 in his discussion of leadership styles, organizational culture, and associated patterns of accomplishing necessary work asserts, “In order for any group to operate effectively, both tasks and problem solving functions have to be performed, and at the same time, group maintenance for social functions. It can be argued that any group of people need to have leadership in both functions so that on the one hand, decisions are made and on the other hand, the ideas and feelings of the whole group are considered.” page 48 Keep this dual focus in mind when considering these priorities. …

The Management Team

Taken from Ecological Human Services Management

Shift focus now to consider human services agency excellence from a Management Perspective. Earlier, we saw the agency is not a static entity with fixed relationships to other entities and elements. It is more like an organism whose survival and success are interdependent with the survival and success of many other organisms and elements in the incorporating environment. As we consider internal agency functioning, the organic analogy applies just as it does within the Helping Triangle.

The people — agency staff — associated with the internal operation of the agency are not static entities with fixed relationships to other entities. Rather, they are separate, autonomous organisms dynamically associating to form the internal portion of the agency’s eco system. I refer to this as the internal eco system. Taking the analogy a step further, the purpose of agency Management is to establish, support, and sustain the internal eco system.

There is an underlying point here that is somewhat counter-intuitive. The purpose of agency Management is not to manage people. The purpose is to establish, support, and sustain the internal eco system. Agency Managers do not manage people. They manage the internal eco system or aspects of the eco system. Agency staff function as self-managing organisms within the internal eco system. De Pree (2004, page 15-17) When talking about organizational leaders advised us in part that leaders owe the organization’s people a clear statement of the values of the organization; a new reference point for what caring, purposeful, committed people can be in the institutional setting; maturity as a sense of self worth, a sense of belonging, a sense of expectancy, a sense of responsibility, a sense of accountability, a sense of equality; rationality valuing trust, human dignity, and self fulfillment; and space to grow and exercise diversity. As managers manage the internal eco system, they must keep this covenant with everyone associated with the agency. …

Leaders Are Never Pushy

Where and When are Leadership Connections Initiated

As Figure 3 in Ecological Human Services Management shows, leadership connections can be planned or unplanned, as represented in the left column of the figure. Additionally, they can be Leadership Team member initiated or stakeholder initiated, as represented in the middle and right columns of the figure. The result is leadership connections that are planned and member initiated, planned and stakeholder initiated, unplanned and member initiated, and unplanned and stakeholder initiated. If the Leadership Team restricts its membership to people who do well on the earlier Leadership Team membership assessment, the four types of connection initiations shown in Figure Three are manageable for the members. They are comfortable with all four types.

Let’s expand on the four initiation types. Planned initiations are those where either the member or the stakeholder decides ahead of time to initiate a connection and then pursues the connection. This may start with a letter or phone call, but may as commonly start with either the member or stakeholder planning ahead of time to introduce himself or herself at a meeting or other gathering.

A few cautions are in order when considering planned connections. The Leadership Team member should initiate the connection personally. If possible, do not have someone else make the arrangements. For example, do not have a secretary, co-worker, or another stakeholder arrange for the first meeting. If initiating the connection by letter or phone, do not ask the stakeholder to contact you. For example, if you leave a message on voice mail, let the person know who you are, briefly why you are calling, and that you will try again at another time. You can leave your number at the end, letting the person know returning the call is fine if they prefer. Just do not give any hint you expect them to call you. €“ When calling anyone, take a minute to decide before you place the call exactly what you will say, if you need to leave a voice message. Do not wait until you hear the beep to think about what you want to say.

Additionally, never initiate a connection by email. In general, avoid emails with stakeholders all together, unless the other person sends an email to you. Even then, a phone call is better and a face-to-face contact is better yet. Email is just too impersonal for leadership connections. Also, do not stop by someone’s home or office without an appointment, expecting the person to meet with you. This is both rude and inconsiderate. …

Ecological Human Services Management: Internal Transactions

The following Internal Transactions activity is adapted from Leadership In Child Protection; Schneider, Crow, & Burtnett, 2000, page 56-57 and is one you may want to add to your management tools when working with employees and especially when working with Leadership Team members. It is a quick way of assessing the quality of employees’ interactions at a specific point in time. More importantly, it is a strategy to improve their interactions with each other over time. This serves not only to improve their interactions with each other but serves to improve their interactions with other agency stakeholders. Additionally, it clearly lets employees know what you value and what you expect from them as they interact with each other and with agency stakeholders.

Interpersonal excellence starts inside your agency. The success of your Leadership Team depends, in part, on relationships, people interacting with people. Think about a single transaction, one person interacting with another. This elementary transaction is the smallest unit or building block from which connections with stakeholders develop.

Your agency’s Leadership Connections can be no stronger than the cumulative strength of the thousands and thousands of transactions in which your staff participate over time. What’s more, you should assume the quality of your staff’s external transactions, interactions with stakeholders, is the same as you see in their internal transactions, interactions with each other. Assume they relate to stakeholders as well or as badly as they relate to each other.

Below is a list of transaction elements you can use to assess your agency’s internal, interpersonal environment. You do this by rating your staff’s typical functioning on each of the ten elements. Rate your staff “5” on the element if it is most always present in your staff members’ transactions with each other. Use “4” for usually, “3” for much of the time, “2” for sometimes, and “1” for usually not. …

Pause to Consider: Leadership and Ethics

You are a member of your agency’s Leadership Team. Consider these brief scenarios and how you would handle them?

You are a program manager with a neighborhood center providing a variety of services for neighborhood residents. Jerry is an adolescent client who was expelled from your after school tutoring program due to an incident where he was caught passing small green pills to another student. Jerry’s father €“ who also is an agency Board member €“ calls to tell you Jerry will not pass this year and may not graduate on time if he does not continue tutoring. Jerry has not been in trouble before and was just doing a favor for a friend, according to his father. He is a good kid and being expelled from your program is too severe. Jerry’s father goes on to say, I don’t want to take advantage of being a Board member but think you should make an exception for Jerry.

Your agency provides foster care services for abused and neglected children. Bob and Harold are a gay couple who have been working for many years with children exhibiting difficult behavior issues. They ask to adopt one of the girls they have been fostering for a year or so. The Executive Director of your agency’s primary authorizing entity hears about this and privately asks you to stop the adoption process, since she thinks some of her Board members may be unhappy about it. She tells you, I don’t want you to think I have a problem with this but I have a couple of Board members€¦. …