The Dance of Staff Empowerment and Management Control

Another excellent staff member gone.  Another controlling manager cranked down too hard one too many times, and the staff member decided to quit.  What will it take for managers in organizations to realize the true cost of the loss of human capital, and decide to listen more, and realize that staff have valid concerns?  How many people have to quit before managers learn?

I have been in management positions and/or supported managers for almost thirty-five years.  I have worked with many staff groups, helping them to change what they need to change, and helping them understand the organization’s position.  I have spent a lot of time teaching and coaching managers how to lead and not control.  But not enough progress is being made.  Too many good to great staff members (and also managers) give up while insecure and controlling managers continue to control, and drive out those who take the risk to complain about what isn’t working.

I sometimes think it is too late.  Too late to convince either through coaching or development of managers that staff who complain, even when they are aggressive about how they do it, have valid concerns.  I fear that it is too late for enough managers to become leaders.

There are many examples. There is the Nurse Practitioner who patients love, who works many more hours than she is paid to work, whose position is changed, changed so she is no longer fulltime, with no good explanation for the change.  There is the staff nurse whose schedule was changed and she wasn’t aware of the change, and who was summarily told it was her responsibility to know her schedule, although she has worked the same schedule for years.  There is the staff member who chose to quit quietly without being open about the reasons, although she has worked in the department for many years.  There is the manager who is allowed to continue to crush the spirit of the staff, although the negative satisfaction scores of the customers is directly linked to when the manager was hired.

My passion is to help leaders in organizations do what they should do best; lead, not control.  I no longer want to explain, justify and support managers who crush the spirit of good, competent staff.    I resist thinking that what I have believed in for almost thirty-five years can’t work.  While I still believe in management and staff empowerment, I am so troubled by the continual problems.

Is my vision a fairy tale?  Is it possible to have an organization fulfill its mission, and be a place where staff is empowered to serve customers and who feel served as well by the organization and its leaders?

I still want to think so.

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About Patti Fralix

Patti Fralix inspires positive change in work, life, and family through Speaking, Consulting, and Coaching in three specialty areas: Leadership, Managing Differences, and Customer Service. Her leadership firm, The Fralix Group, Inc., has been helping clients achieve practical and tangible results for twenty-two years.
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