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What is the Management Perspective?

Traditionally, we understand management as a set of functions along the right side of the Helping Triangle. The agency Board functions as the bridge between the agency and the authorizing entity or more typically, the Board and its CEO share this function. In turn, the CEO is responsible for the agency’s internal structure and connects the agency with the Board and authorizing entity. Within the agency, the CEO is in charge of and accountable for all internal activities and functions. He (or she) may delegate most of those functions and activities to subordinate staff members; but the CEO is the internal governing authority.

Let me clarify three terms I use in this and later chapters. The terms are accountability, responsibility, and authority. All accountability, responsibility, and authority within a human services agency are vested in the agency Board. The Board is accountable to the Authorizers. This means the Board is answerable to the Authorizers for whatever the agency does or does not do. The Board is obligated to do that for which it has been authorized and to refrain from any actions or activities for which it has not been authorized or that violate law or other generally accepted conventions for human services agencies. Its accountability is explicit or at least implicit in its agreements with its Authorizers. It is accountable. “Accountability refers to the obligation that is created when a person accepts duties and responsibilities from higher management. The delegate is responsible to the next higher level to carry them out effectively. Accountability flows upward in an organization.” (Mosley, Megginson, & Pietri, 2007, p. 128)

Responsibilities are that for which the Board is accountable. They are the tasks and associated outcomes reasonably expected of the agency. The job of the agency is to…. The tasks and activities completing the statement are the Board’s responsibilities. Authority is, then, the right or ability to access resources, organize and manage the agency eco system, and to take whatever additional, reasonable actions necessary to carry out the Board’s responsibilities. We discuss these concepts later in relation to delegation and policy development; but suffice it to say accountability, responsibility, and authority collectively represent the auspices delegated to the Board by the Authorizers. – Note human services agencies typically have multiple Authorizers to which they are accountable, including the primary authorizing entity as well as governmental, oversight, and regulatory entities.

The Management Perspective with the CEO functioning as the internal governing authority is very familiar to all of us. A graphic representation of the model looks like the organizational pyramid or Table of Organization (T.O.) we have all seen many times. The Executive is at the top of the pyramid. Under him are multiple levels, with more functions and people at each descending level. Most activities and people are at the bottom of the pyramid where the authorized work of the agency takes place. “One basic truism of management is that the lower the level of management, the greater the span of management, which is the number of immediate employees a manager can supervise effectively. Therefore, supervisors make decisions that affect not only their own behavior but also that of many other people.” (Mosley, Megginson, & Pietri, 2007, p. 61-62)

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