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Organizational context
The organizational context for this change was a large mental health and development services
agency, serving the lifespan (infants to seniors) of the client population. It covered a large urban
and rural region, and multiple office sites. The organization was government-funded by several
health and social service ministries and was facing increasing accountability to provide detailed
quarterly and annual financial and service reports. The organization collaborated with a wide
range of community service partners, such as healthcare, education, justice, child welfare,
employment, and housing. This was a traditional organization with a hierarchical structure and
culture, and well-established policies and procedures (OConnor & Netting, 2009). It was governed
by a board of directors from the professional community. The senior leadership team included an
executive director, a director of clinical services, and a director of operations. The middle
management team consisted of program managers and clinical supervisors for each area
(developmental, childrens, adult and seniors mental health). There were interdisciplinary teams for
each area (20 staff each), with ranging professional capacities: mental health workers (masters
level social workers/therapists), family support workers (child and youth workers), crisis workers
(nurses, social workers), developmental service workers (BA level), consulting psychologists and
psychiatrists. This organization had undergone continuous changes, including a merger, multiple
program expansions, and team/service restructuring. There was a new executive director and
director of service, who were both inexperienced in these positions. These directors introduced a
new mission, vision, values, and strategic directions for the organization, including staff
empowerment and the creation of self-directed teams. An external consultant trained all staff on
having difficult conversations with one another, to increase staffs sense of safety and comfort in
providing feedback to the organization. This initiative was not followed through, and staff feedback
indicated they were feeling dissatisfied and mistrustful of management. Specifically, they
requested improved communication and more involvement in decision-making.
Organizational Issue
The executive director and director of service decided to introduce a rapid shift in childrens
services. First, the childrens mental health (CMHS) staff and the developmental services (DS) staff
were integrated under the DS manager, who became the childrens services (CS) manager. This
CS manager was new to the supervisors and staff in CMHS, and this change coincided with the
departure of the long-time CMHS manager. Second, the CMHS team was changed to a self
directed team model. This change was based on a pilot project with DS staff, where a self-directed
team format had been introduced. These changes were undertaken quickly, over a two-month
period. Supervisors roles were changed significantly during this process. The former DS
supervisor, who had not worked in CMHS previously, had their role extended to oversee two
childrens mental health teams (over 50 staff). Supervision shifted to a peer consultation model
within the new self-directed team format. The two former CMHS supervisors, who were both
experienced (over 20 years each), assumed lead responsibility for service programs and
development. Supervisors titles were not modified with these role changes, and they did not
receive any training to implement these changes.
Central Staff Involved
The middle management and front-line staff were primarily involved in this change. The new CS
manager, together with the DS and two CMHS supervisors, was responsible for implementing this
change. As noted above, while these individuals were experienced in their former roles, they were
new to their proposed roles, and they did not receive mentoring support. The front-line DS staff
(over 20) and CMHS staff (over 30) were also directly involved in this change. As noted above, the
DS workers had some experience with self-directed teams as a pilot project, while the CMHS
workers were new to this process. These staff did not receive any training about this change.
Indirectly, the executive director envisioned this change and the director of service was
responsible for overseeing this change.
Actions/rationale to Address Issue
The executive director and director of service were aware of the change management literature
(see Lewis et al., 2012). They developed a template for organizational change, which they shared
with the middle management team during a leadership training. However, they did not use the
template to develop a formal change management plan for self-directed teams. Nor was the
rationale linked to the executive directors vision and the organizations value of team and staff
empowerment. There was also no formal communication strategy to share this news with
supervisors and staff and prepare them for this impending change. This change was decided by
the director of service and the new CS manager without consultation or input. The supervisors and
staff were not anticipating this change, and there was no discussion of the impact on the staff
involved. Instead, supervisors were abruptly informed about the integration of the two services, the
changes to their roles, and the shift to a self-directed team format, during an after-hours meeting.
Similarly, the DS and CMHS staff were informed of this change during a team meeting, prompting
multiple concerns and questions. As supervisors were not provided a rationale for this shift, they
were challenged to explain this change to staff and how it would personally affect them. As a
result, staff in both services were confused about the nature and necessity of this change.
Supervisor/staff Perceptions of Impact
The supervisors understood they were responsible to implement this initiative with staff from both
teams, with ad hoc support from the new CS manager. However, without a detailed change plan
with a timeline and steps to follow, and training to develop their knowledge and skills, they began
to struggle with implementing the self-directed team model. The CS Manager personalized these
issues to the supervisors lack of ability to follow self-directed team principles. The supervisors also
felt shocked and distrustful toward their CS manager, given the lack of input into their significant
role changes. They were confused about their role, as they were no longer providing direct clinical
supervision to staff or leading team meetings, yet they retained responsibility for addressing staff
performance issues and completing performance evaluations. This confusion consumed much
energy during supervisor team meetings with the CS manager. During this time, the supervisors
were also responsible for multiple new service projects, which were challenging and time-
consuming. However, the progress that supervisors accomplished on these projects was not
recognized by the CS manager. Both the DS and CMHS staff questioned the self-directed team
initiative during the entire implementation process. They were upset about their lack of
involvement in decision-making, and they felt their previous feedback was ignored. As a result,
their job satisfaction and trust within the organization was further reduced. The staff recalled the
agencys poor history regarding change management, and they were guarded, skeptical and
resistant towards self-directed teams. Staff reported feeling confused and conflicted about the
supervisors new roles, and who to consult for clinical supervision, as supervision was shifted to
peer consultation within their new teams. This confusion led to ongoing staff conflict within their
newly formed teams and consumed much of their energy and discussion at team meetings. In
terms of outcomes, the anticipated outcomes, resources, and evaluation measures needed for this
change were not specified. The outcome was that the senior leadership team admitted this change
initiative failed, after a one-year trial period. As well, while the organization had an overall
accountability framework, there were no evaluation or accountability measures built into this pilot
project to determine if the envisioned changes were successful. Instead, the supervisors were held
directly accountable for the lack of success. Acting on staff feedback, the director of service and
CS manager decided to return supervisors to their former positions and teams. Supervisors
returned to teams in disarray: disorganized work processes; lengthy client service waitlists; staff
feeling burdened with large caseloads; client files with incomplete documentation; missing
outcome data; and multiple staff resignations requiring new staff hiring.
From a change content perspective, recall the benefits of an empowerment/participatory
leadership approach and self-directed team format. What could future leaders do differently to
ensure successful implementation of this approach in their organization?

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Organizational context The organizational context for this .pdf

  • 1. Organizational context The organizational context for this change was a large mental health and development services agency, serving the lifespan (infants to seniors) of the client population. It covered a large urban and rural region, and multiple office sites. The organization was government-funded by several health and social service ministries and was facing increasing accountability to provide detailed quarterly and annual financial and service reports. The organization collaborated with a wide range of community service partners, such as healthcare, education, justice, child welfare, employment, and housing. This was a traditional organization with a hierarchical structure and culture, and well-established policies and procedures (OConnor & Netting, 2009). It was governed by a board of directors from the professional community. The senior leadership team included an executive director, a director of clinical services, and a director of operations. The middle management team consisted of program managers and clinical supervisors for each area (developmental, childrens, adult and seniors mental health). There were interdisciplinary teams for each area (20 staff each), with ranging professional capacities: mental health workers (masters level social workers/therapists), family support workers (child and youth workers), crisis workers (nurses, social workers), developmental service workers (BA level), consulting psychologists and psychiatrists. This organization had undergone continuous changes, including a merger, multiple program expansions, and team/service restructuring. There was a new executive director and director of service, who were both inexperienced in these positions. These directors introduced a new mission, vision, values, and strategic directions for the organization, including staff empowerment and the creation of self-directed teams. An external consultant trained all staff on having difficult conversations with one another, to increase staffs sense of safety and comfort in providing feedback to the organization. This initiative was not followed through, and staff feedback indicated they were feeling dissatisfied and mistrustful of management. Specifically, they requested improved communication and more involvement in decision-making. Organizational Issue The executive director and director of service decided to introduce a rapid shift in childrens services. First, the childrens mental health (CMHS) staff and the developmental services (DS) staff were integrated under the DS manager, who became the childrens services (CS) manager. This CS manager was new to the supervisors and staff in CMHS, and this change coincided with the departure of the long-time CMHS manager. Second, the CMHS team was changed to a self directed team model. This change was based on a pilot project with DS staff, where a self-directed team format had been introduced. These changes were undertaken quickly, over a two-month period. Supervisors roles were changed significantly during this process. The former DS supervisor, who had not worked in CMHS previously, had their role extended to oversee two childrens mental health teams (over 50 staff). Supervision shifted to a peer consultation model within the new self-directed team format. The two former CMHS supervisors, who were both experienced (over 20 years each), assumed lead responsibility for service programs and development. Supervisors titles were not modified with these role changes, and they did not receive any training to implement these changes. Central Staff Involved The middle management and front-line staff were primarily involved in this change. The new CS
  • 2. manager, together with the DS and two CMHS supervisors, was responsible for implementing this change. As noted above, while these individuals were experienced in their former roles, they were new to their proposed roles, and they did not receive mentoring support. The front-line DS staff (over 20) and CMHS staff (over 30) were also directly involved in this change. As noted above, the DS workers had some experience with self-directed teams as a pilot project, while the CMHS workers were new to this process. These staff did not receive any training about this change. Indirectly, the executive director envisioned this change and the director of service was responsible for overseeing this change. Actions/rationale to Address Issue The executive director and director of service were aware of the change management literature (see Lewis et al., 2012). They developed a template for organizational change, which they shared with the middle management team during a leadership training. However, they did not use the template to develop a formal change management plan for self-directed teams. Nor was the rationale linked to the executive directors vision and the organizations value of team and staff empowerment. There was also no formal communication strategy to share this news with supervisors and staff and prepare them for this impending change. This change was decided by the director of service and the new CS manager without consultation or input. The supervisors and staff were not anticipating this change, and there was no discussion of the impact on the staff involved. Instead, supervisors were abruptly informed about the integration of the two services, the changes to their roles, and the shift to a self-directed team format, during an after-hours meeting. Similarly, the DS and CMHS staff were informed of this change during a team meeting, prompting multiple concerns and questions. As supervisors were not provided a rationale for this shift, they were challenged to explain this change to staff and how it would personally affect them. As a result, staff in both services were confused about the nature and necessity of this change. Supervisor/staff Perceptions of Impact The supervisors understood they were responsible to implement this initiative with staff from both teams, with ad hoc support from the new CS manager. However, without a detailed change plan with a timeline and steps to follow, and training to develop their knowledge and skills, they began to struggle with implementing the self-directed team model. The CS Manager personalized these issues to the supervisors lack of ability to follow self-directed team principles. The supervisors also felt shocked and distrustful toward their CS manager, given the lack of input into their significant role changes. They were confused about their role, as they were no longer providing direct clinical supervision to staff or leading team meetings, yet they retained responsibility for addressing staff performance issues and completing performance evaluations. This confusion consumed much energy during supervisor team meetings with the CS manager. During this time, the supervisors were also responsible for multiple new service projects, which were challenging and time- consuming. However, the progress that supervisors accomplished on these projects was not recognized by the CS manager. Both the DS and CMHS staff questioned the self-directed team initiative during the entire implementation process. They were upset about their lack of involvement in decision-making, and they felt their previous feedback was ignored. As a result, their job satisfaction and trust within the organization was further reduced. The staff recalled the agencys poor history regarding change management, and they were guarded, skeptical and
  • 3. resistant towards self-directed teams. Staff reported feeling confused and conflicted about the supervisors new roles, and who to consult for clinical supervision, as supervision was shifted to peer consultation within their new teams. This confusion led to ongoing staff conflict within their newly formed teams and consumed much of their energy and discussion at team meetings. In terms of outcomes, the anticipated outcomes, resources, and evaluation measures needed for this change were not specified. The outcome was that the senior leadership team admitted this change initiative failed, after a one-year trial period. As well, while the organization had an overall accountability framework, there were no evaluation or accountability measures built into this pilot project to determine if the envisioned changes were successful. Instead, the supervisors were held directly accountable for the lack of success. Acting on staff feedback, the director of service and CS manager decided to return supervisors to their former positions and teams. Supervisors returned to teams in disarray: disorganized work processes; lengthy client service waitlists; staff feeling burdened with large caseloads; client files with incomplete documentation; missing outcome data; and multiple staff resignations requiring new staff hiring. From a change content perspective, recall the benefits of an empowerment/participatory leadership approach and self-directed team format. What could future leaders do differently to ensure successful implementation of this approach in their organization?