February 25, 2012
In our OPEN MINDS pieces Should You “Eliminate” Your Managers? all members, Exchanging Managers For Chaos? all members and Managers Need to ‘Make The Mission The Boss’ all members, we looked at the premise that as the “least efficient activity in your organization”, management could be eliminated – originally presented by Gary Hamel in his Harvard Business Review piece, First, Let’s Fire All the Managers. And the “no managers” concept continues to generate discussion – most recently in The Sounding Board, the blog of Dr. Gail M. Lawson, the chief executive officer of Sound Community Services.
In her post, “First Fire All the Managers”, Dr. Lawson wrote: “Yesterday I was confronted by one of our clinicians who challenged me to fire Sound’s managers. Her comments implied that the managers offered little to our organization and that the organization would be far better off, as would our clients, without a management team. Her comments have made me re-examine both the premise of Hamel’s article and my own beliefs about the roles of managers, including my own, in our organization. So exactly what is the role of the management team here at Sound- what is their value, if any, to the organization? […]
“Sound…is an organization governed by a set of complex rules and regulations from many sources including a wide variety of federal and state laws, regulations from the Department of Health, Center for Medicaid and Medicare…and a myriad of others…Failure to meet or even mere ignorance of these rules and regulation can have and has had very real and serious consequences for Sound. For example in the last year we had to return several thousand dollars to Medicare due to a failure to follow exactly CMS billing regulations.
“So how should we assure that we “follow all these externally imposed rules and regulations?” Should we hold individual staff members fully responsible? Should staff…”police” themselves…? I think any reasonable person would agree that the answer to that question should be “No.” No one person could be expected to know everything they should know about every aspect of our business. Those staff charged with providing direct services to clients should focus on providing quality service. […]
“I could certainly give you hundreds of examples of what the managers here at Sound do to assure that the services we provide are the best possible, but clearly one of their essential roles, but not their only role, is to know what should be done, make sure that what needs to be done is done when it is supposed to be done so that we can continue to provide the best possible services to those who need our help. […]
“None of us should ever underestimate the importance of the managers…While the line staff actually may perform the tasks, the manager is charged with making sure that those assigned to carry out the tasks have the skills, tools and training to actually perform the tasks successfully and do so within the rules and regulations that govern us. Think of the manger as a coach- he/she may not step onto the field and play but he/she is responsible for creating and maintaining a winning team! And here, as it is in life in general, it is the manager who loses his or her job when the team performs poorly! Think of Terry Francona, the most recent manager of the Red Sox, who despite his brilliance was fired. It was Francona the manager and not JD Drew the player who lost his job even though Drew had never performed as he should! The manager was held responsible!…So when Hamel suggests that an organization can run without the people who are responsible for making sure what needs to get done does get done I must disagree, at least from the perspective of our highly regulated and complex field.”
I’m sure this discussion will continue. For another perspective, check out the post from my colleague, Rejean Carlson, president of OPEN MINDS, Misunderstood Motivations Lead To Bad Management Decisions all members.
Monica E. Oss
Chief Executive Officer, OPEN MINDS
For another free resource, see: Weeding Out the “Clinicians in Managers’ Clothing” all members
This is free for the next sixty days to all registered OPEN MINDS Circle members.