The Director as Liaison
One of the most difficult roles of a department manager is that of liaison between staff and administration. Administration's bottom line is financial. The staff's bottom line is quality service. The manager's job is to convey the importance of one to the other. Achieving this delicate balance ensures the success of the department.
The key is effective communication. When speaking with the staff, the manager must relate the financial issues to quality service. When speaking with administration, the manager must relate how providing quality service impacts the financial health of the department.
Sometimes the director must implement administrative changes that do not sit well with the staff. How this is communicated can mean the difference between resentment and buy-in. A director who hands down an edict that seems counterproductive will likely face resistance from his staff. When no explanation or empathy is given, the staff feels like the director has forgotten his roots and doesn't understand the impact of what he is asking.
A director who explains the reasoning behind the change will usually get buy-in, even when the change being requested is not palatable. Being able to see both sides of the situation, the director may be able to relate how the change will improve quality care. Other times the director may explain he doesn't agree with the change, but it has to be done. When the director acknowledges he understands the additional work created for the staff, they can work together to find ways to lessen the pain.
Other times the director admits the idea seems counterproductive, but putting administration's idea into practice will be necessary to prove why it won't work. This director communicates he is part of the clinical team and understands how the change will impact his staff and the clients.
Is your manager an effective liaison? Managers, what has been your biggest liaison hurdle and how did you overcome it?