Leadership and People in an Organization
This paper logs observations I have made during my experience at the Thomas Embling Hospital and corresponds them with my academic learning. I will be identifying specifics of organizational structure by reviewing the mission and vision statements as well as values declared in the hospital’s Annual Report 2008 – 2009 with an aim to analyze the genuineness of the statements and the extent of their implementation in the organization. I will be discussing the present state of acceptance and adjustment to change in healthcare organization and will be backing up my observations with suggestions for understanding and managing change. I will also be analyzing the effectiveness of leaders at my workplace, how they are perceived by their subordinates and how they interact with them. Finally, I will be visiting a non-healthcare organization to observe how this organization deals with its own people as well as customers.
The Thomas Embling Hospital is part of Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health. The 118 bed hospital mainly treats psychiatric patients from the criminal justice system as well from the public mental health system. The hospital describes in detail its mission, vision and core values in its 2008 -2009 Annual Report [ CITATION Vic09 \l 1033 ].
Mission, Vision and Values
Mission Statement: The mission and vision statement and core values of any institution serve to publicly declare the purpose, goals, products, markets and philosophical views of the organization [ CITATION Sta03 \l 1033 ]. The Thomas Embling Hospital’s mission statement is to provide effective mental health services in a safe and secure environment to people who have both a mental disorder and a history of criminal offending or who present a serious risk of such behaviour [ CITATION Vic09 \l 1033 ].
The hospital is very clearly dedicated to treating people with criminal records who need psychiatric aid. The hospital is specially designed keeping in mind the safety and security requirements along with a treatment and rehabilitation environment necessary to treat patients with behavioural issues that could be damaging to themselves as well as the society at large. I have observed the specialized service that the hospital provides to men and women with not without a criminal record, in keeping with the aims mentioned in the mission statement.
However, I think the statement fails to clearly state that the hospital treats patients from the public mental health system too. The focus in the mission statement is on the treatment of patients with present or past criminal activities. I believe that the statement can be re-written to comprehensively, clearly and simply include both, criminal as well as public patients, as their target group for treatment. Also, the statement fails to address its mission towards its employees
Vision Statement: The Thomas Embling Hospital’s vision statement is to become an international centre of excellence in understanding and treating mental disorders associated with criminal behaviour [ CITATION Vic09 \l 1033 ].
The hospital does strive to maintain the highest degree of excellence which is evident in the various new programs it launches every year to keep its treatment and care as up to date with the latest developments in the psychiatric field as possible. However, I have observed that the hospital’s scope is far from being international in its reach with majority of its patients being from within Australia. The hospital does not have any initiative in place to expand the reach of its services across borders. I think that it needs to form some form of an expansion program if it is to live up to this part of its vision statement. Also, the vision statement too fails to address the institute’s vision for its employees.
Values: The hospital lists responsiveness, integrity, impartiality, accountability, respect, leadership and human rights as its core values [ CITATION Vic09 \l 1033 ]. In my experience, the hospital does take sincere initiative to uphold these values as far as possible. The teams and their leaders strive to ensure a fair and progressive work environment while the HR team has several measures in place to facilitate reporting and rectifying any untowardly behavior towards colleagues as well as patients. The hospital emphasizes on treating patients humanely and this shows in its initiative to reduce instances of seclusion by running the Beacon Project ending June 2009.
Analyzing the Annual Report: The Annual Report 2008 – 2009 [ CITATION Vic09 \l 1033 ] of the institute comprehensively covers most of the required components of an annual report like company profile, mission/ vision statement, reports from top management, financial highlights and investor and company information [ CITATION Sta03 \l 1033 ] although the hospital provides detailed financial statement in a separate document not included in the report. The report also includes photographs of several members of the staff, all the way from top management to nursing staff and interns. There are also graphical representations of data and images encouraging a positive outlook towards healthcare and treatment. I personally found the annual report to be visually appealing and comprehensive in providing information.
Healthcare organizations are the most complex form of human organization we have ever attempted to change (Drucker, 1993). There are many factors that influence the level of change in a healthcare organization. Such organizations have a diverse range of staff, patients from all walks of life and stringent government regulations to follow. A change in the nature of any of these influencers necessitates a change in the approach of the healthcare organization. I think constant change and development are not just important for healthcare organizations, they are vital to their survival. My workplace, the Thomas Embling Hospital, has a corporate vision to become an international center for excellence in understanding and treating mental disorders [ CITATION Vic09 \l 1033 ]. In order to achieve this excellence, the hospital has had to constantly reinvent its approach to treatment and care. As the institute implements various initiatives like the Structured Day program or the M4 Management of Aggression program, I was provided with specialized training to increase my competency in dealing with aggression management issues. Training was provided to all the staff including nurses and care givers. I think this effectively shows that if healthcare organizations are aiming to improve the quality of the service they provide, then it is a necessity that they accept and adapt to change.
Coping With Forced External Change
Currently, the areas in which pressures for change seem most powerful involve people, technology, information processing and communication, competition and social trends [ CITATION Gri10 \l 1033 ]. I experienced forced external change first hand when I was required to undergo additional training when the Thomas Embling Hospital was selected as a test site for the 11 Commonwealth funded Beacon Project. Although the training added to my existing skills, managing job responsibilities while dedicating time for training was very stressful. Some of my colleagues expressed their resentment for having to go through the training as they believed their skills were developed enough for their role in the institution. I think inter-peer communication and understanding is crucial to cope with forced external change and I used this as an opportunity to discuss the benefits of additional training with my colleagues in an effort to convince them to cooperate with the management. While most of them eventually agreed to take up the training, certain members of the staff refused and it reflected poorly on their performance once the project was implemented.
There is not single formula for producing leadership, every leader leads differently [ CITATION Shr11 \l 1033 ]. However, I believe every leader follows certain common principles which he shares with several others. The ten most prominent leadership principles in my opinion are:
Ethical - I was once asked by a person of higher rank to provide false information in a report. N only did I refuse to comply but instantly lost respect for and the will to follow the leader which is why I agree that leadership is essential in a strong ethical context in an organization, beginning with executive leaders who set the tone at the top (Posner & Schmidt, 1993).
Multi-Cultural Orientation – I have people of foreign origins as peers at my workplace. Although living and working in Australia and having a common vocation is a common factor, I have noticed that each of our thoughts and decisions have a base in the values cultivated by our culture. Our team leader studied these cultures and took the initiative to understand them better. As a result, he was able to get better levels of cooperation from his team.
Relationship & Vision - The head of the nursing department at the institute makes sure she interacts at a personal level with everyone in the team despite being far more accomplished than us. This attitude has helped her build a healthy relationship with the team. We look up to her and motivation in the team runs high. Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them [ CITATION Max07 \l 1033 ].
Thought & Action – I have noticed that peers do not respect leaders who fail to follow up their words with action as it reflects a lack of drive and initiative, an attitude that can easily be passed from a leader to his or her subordinate. The thinkers need to do more and the doers need to think more [ CITATION Max07 \l 1033 ].
Identifying Talent – Each individual has talents. To understand the individual, to identify the strengths and needs of the individual are vital for the leader in order to be most effective with the person[ CITATION Ski92 \l 1033 ]. I agree with this statement. One of my peers in the nursing team had a talent for administration and sought to develop it as an alternate career option. However, his team lead failed to acknowledge and promote his talent which greatly discouraged my peer. He eventually left the organization to work as an assistant administrator for a competitor, taking his current skill set and potential for growth with him.
Knowledge & Perception – Successful leadership in addition to knowing the membership and its identity must also know the group’s expectations and what it sees as its obligations [ CITATION Ste10 \l 1033 ]. One of the leaders of the nursing staff at my workplace did not seem to notice that his subordinates expected him to put in extra time at work too when they were asked to do overtime. This in turn led to his subordinates perceiving him to be a person who shies away from responsibility and leaves other to do the hard work.
Empowerment – Only secure leaders give power to others [ CITATION Max98 \l 1033 ]. One of the departments at my workplace showed an increased rate of attrition and job exit interviews revealed most of the employees felt that their leader was not comfortable delegating responsibilities to them due to lack of trust in their ability or insecurity regarding his own. Employees want to learn and grow if they are to stay within an organization and they expect their leaders to provide them with such opportunities.
Change & Risk Taking – If we are going to get anywhere, we are going to have to risk venturing into the unknown [ CITATION Max07 \l 1033 ]. I am proud to work for an institution that believes in adapting to change and investing in calculated risks leading to development and growth. Most of my peers share this view as they believe they will progress better with leaders who believe in pioneering and adaptation.
Effective Communication – I have often noticed that people fail to understand the vision and objectives their leaders want them to follow. Sometime this was because of the lack of perception on the part of the subordinate, other times it was because their leader had not communicated his vision clearly. We can only move to accomplish a goal when the vision is cast clearly, creatively and consistently [ CITATION Max07 \l 1033 ].
Passion & Enthusiasm – An enthusiastic attitude places a leader above his peers, opens his mind to creativity and provides motivation to his people [ CITATION Max07 \l 1033 ]. I completely agree with this statement. The enthusiasm of my team leader is contagious and inspires everyone in the team to work with equal passion towards excellence.
How Leaders Influence Teams
Leaders are the role models that subordinates look up to and mold their own behavior to. I think a good leader is not just someone who does his or her own job well but inspires the team to give their best as well. At the same time, a person with poor leadership skill placed in a position of authority can kill the drive for progress in a team. I think the following Dos and Don’ts are key traits shown by leaders who encourage development in their teams:
Do have an open door policy for your team to encourage better interaction. If a leader is perceived as approachable, subordinates are more likely to come forward with ideas, suggestions and even complaints at times.
Do initiate a rewards program within the team. It could be something as simple as keeping a running trophy on the desk of the team member who has performed the best during a given month.
Do keep an eye out for team members that display an interest in learning things beyond their purview. Analyze the potential of such staff and present them with opportunities they might be enthusiastic about.
Don’t hesitate to empower your team to take basic decisions on their own. Knowing that their leader trusts them encourages employees to excel in their performance to avoid disappointing the leader.
Don’t publicly reprimand team members if they have made a mistake as it can be a very humiliating experience and can kill the employees’ motivation to perform well.
Don’t fail to lead by example. Employees do not follow a leader who shows no initiative himself.
I visited a major fast food chain outlet in a business district during lunch hours. My aim was to observe how the staff was oriented towards their customers at one of the busiest times of the day. As a customer, I was able to observe the following:
Overall Atmosphere – The décor of the outlet was styled in a modern yet casual manner with bright red seating arrangement, plain steel tables and walls that carried posters of famous sports stars and Hollywood personalities. The counter and serving staff were uniformed in similarly bright colours, each wearing a baseball cap. The latest popular music was being played at volume loud enough to hear but not to disrupt conversations. The overall atmosphere was jovial.
Customer Orientation – The counter staff greeted me with a smile when I approached them to place an order. As there was a long queue, I was told that my order would be brought to my table within 5 minutes. As I waited, I was informed by a smiling serving staff that my order was on the way and it was served on time. I tested their efficiency by requesting for extra spoons and paper napkins that were brought to me promptly. I observed that other customers were being given the same level of attention.
Team Orientation – Although it seemed that each member of the staff had their job clearly marked out, I observed that they were performing other tasks in order to keep the service being provided at an excellent level. For example, the serving staff was helping clear tables if no member of the cleaning team was available. Similarly, I saw some of the cleaning team members update customers on the status of their orders, a job meant to be performed by the serving team.
Performance Orientation – The organization had its mission statement engraved on a placard that was placed on a wall at the ordering counters section. It clearly stated that customer service was a key marker for performance to them. This showed in the level of commitment shown by the staff towards satisfying their customers. During my visit, I did not witness any customer being ignored or delays in serving. A friendly and helpful attitude was consistent across the staff.
People Orientation – Although I was visiting the outlet during peak business hours, I did not see any form of stress being applied to the staff by their managers. Two managers were visible, one at the ordering counter and the other at the seating section. Although they were monitoring the performance of the employees and following up on potential delays, they never displayed any form of aggression and treated the employees with utmost respect.
Motivation Level – The employees were clearly dedicated to giving their job their best. There were n frowns, only smiles and the employees displayed no sign of stress despite being hard pressed to deliver to a full house of customers. The ordering counter wall had a placards carrying names, photographs and manager comments on the Employee of the Month for the past 6 months. This shows that the organization has rewards programs in place to keep employees motivated to perform.
Attention to Details – While the service and attitude of the staff was great, there were certain things that were overlooked. For instance, the table I sat at was not cleaned thoroughly and was slightly greasy to the touch so I had to request for it to be cleaned again.
Overall, the organization had all the factors required for efficient customer service and employee management in place. However, considering that the outlet is located in a business district, it gets customers beyond the seating capacity of the outlet. During my visit, I observed that some of the customers had to wait to get a table. I saw some potential customers return from the entrance after seeing the packed outlet. People visit the outlet during their lunch breaks and are pressed to return to work on time. While prompt and efficient service ensures this, waiting for a table may cause inconvenient delays. I would suggest that the organization consider an expansion of the outlet in order to be able to serve its customers better.