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Empowering Nursing Home Staff is the Key to Success

Published November 1, 2007 3:54 PM by Brian Garavaglia
Managing a nursing home, like managing other types of organizations, is dependent upon leadership that empowers workers.  No one leader, whether they are a nursing home or hospital administrator, a general manager of retail, an office manager, or the President of the United States can know everything.  Nor can they afford to micro manage all phases of an organization.  A smart organization, which successful nursing homes are, are organizations dependent on workers that are empowered to think, carry out their duties unencumbered, and exercise their knowledge.   This is not to say that the administrator should take on a laissez-faire role, but one of the most important roles of an administrator is to take the intellectual capital they have in their building and utilize it toward servicing the benefits of the residents.   

The administrator, through allowing their staff to carry out the knowledge that they have and allowing them to think on their feet without constant interference, fosters a smart organizational environment.  Often, many administrators feel compelled to microscopically manage all phases of the nursing facility.  This creates an environment of inhibiting employee growth.  Furthermore, quality health care does not depend on staff always needing to ask, "what should I do" or "what do you want me to do."  Not only does microscopically managing employees lead to thwarting employee growth and knowledge, it leads to a reduction of confidence in employees and employees that feel that they always need to look over their should.  Furthermore, these "paternalistic" nursing home environments often lead to reduced satisfaction among their workers with the probability for poorer care for the residents. 

Would you want a surgeon who always needs advice from another surgeon if they encounter some unanticipated problem or a battlefield commander that has to always call their superiors when an unanticipated issue arises?  Probably not!  And the reason is fairly obvious: if these leaders do not have confidence in themselves and they always need to consult with their leaders, not only is this disempowered person who cannot think on their feet helpful to the organizational environment they are part of, but they also will cause harm to those that they are servicing.   

Smart nursing home environments depend on well-trained staff that can anticipate situations.  Micromanaging organizations attempt to anticipate all contingencies through using templates, however no one can ever anticipate all contingencies through template generalization.  Microscopically managing individuals through creating specific templates is ultimately doomed to failure since no one template can cover all contingencies.  Smart organizations tailor their response to contingencies by addressing the contingency itself as it evolves situationally.  To do this is relies on workers that are smart and an organizational environment that fosters smart workers.  Important for administrative leadership is fostering growth of smart workers that can address unique situations creatively and knowledgably.  Administrative leadership that places workers under the microscope leads to an organizational environment that will fail due to the catastrophic paternalism of the mechanistic work environment that takes the thinking out of work.  

What do you think?        



Team building is an important facet for an organizational environment. In a previous article I mentioned

May 27, 2008 10:36 AM

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About this Blog

    Brian Garavaglia, PhD
    Occupation: Long-term care administrator
    Setting: Sterling Heights, Mich.
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