MANAGEMENT POSITIONS: THE CONTROL IN THE ORGANIZATIONAL HEIRARCHY Management

MANAGEMENT POSITIONS: THE CONTROL IN THE ORGANIZATIONAL HEIRARCHY Management positions within health care organizations are not confined to the top level; because of the size and complexity of many health care organizations, management positions are found throughout the organization. Management positions exist at the lower, middle, and upper levels; the upper level is referred to as senior management. The hierarchy of management means that authority, or power, is delegated downward in the organization, and lower-level managers have less authority than higher-level managers, whose scope of responsibility is much greater. For example, a vice president of Patient Care Services in a hospital may be in charge of several different functional areas, such as nursing, diagnostic imaging services, and laboratory services; in contrast, a director of Medical Records—a lower-level position—has responsibility only for the function of patient medical records. Furthermore, a supervisor within the Environmental Services department may have responsibility for only a small housekeeping staff, whose work is critical, but confined to a defined area of the organization. Some managerial positions, such as those discussed previously, are line manager positions because the manager supervises other employees; other managerial positions are staff manager positions because they carry out work and advise their bosses, but they do not routinely supervise others. Managerial positions also vary in terms of required expertise or experience. Some positions require extensive knowledge of many substantive areas and significant working experience, and other positions are more appropriate for entry-level managers who have limited or no experience.

The most common organizational structure for health care organizations is a functional organizational structure, whose key characteristic is a pyramid- shaped hierarchy that defines the functions carried out and the key management positions assigned to those functions (see Figure 1-2). The size and complexity of the specific health services organization will dictate the particular structure. For example, larger organizations—such as large community hospitals, hospital

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systems, and academic medical centers—will likely have deep vertical structures reflecting varying levels of administrative control for the organization. This structure is necessary due to the large scope of services provided and the corresponding vast array of administrative and support services that are needed to enable the delivery of clinical services. Other characteristics associated with this functional structure include a strict chain of command and line of reporting, which ensure communication and assignment and evaluation of tasks are carried out in a linear command and control environment. This structure offers key advantages, such as specific divisions of labor and clear lines of reporting and accountability.

Other administrative structures have been adopted by health care organizations, usually in combination with a functional structure. These include matrix, or team-based, models and service line management models. The matrix model recognizes that a strict functional structure may limit the organization’s flexibility to carry out the work, and that the expertise of other disciplines is needed on a continuous basis. An example of the matrix method is when functional staff, such as nursing and rehabilitation personnel, are assigned to a specific program, such as geriatrics, and they report for programmatic purposes to the program director of the geriatrics department. Another example is when clinical and administrative staff are assigned to a team investigating new services that is headed by a marketing or business development manager. In both of these examples, management would lead staff who traditionally are not under their direct administrative control. Advantages of this structure include improved lateral communication and coordination of services, as well as pooled knowledge.

In service line management, a manager is appointed to head a specific clinical service line and has responsibility and accountability for staffing, resource acquisition, budget, and financial control associated with the array of services provided under that service line. Typical examples of service lines include cardiology, oncology (cancer), women’s services, physical rehabilitation, and behavioral health (mental health). Service lines can be established within a single organization or may cut across affiliated organizations, such as within a hospital system where services are provided at several different affiliated facilities (Boblitz & Thompson, 2005). Some facilities have found that the service line management model for selected clinical services has resulted in many benefits, such as lower costs, higher quality of care, and greater patient satisfaction, compared to other management models (Duffy & Lemieux, 1995). The service line management model is usually implemented within an organization in conjunction with a functional structure, as the organization may choose to give special emphasis and

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additional resources to one or a few services lines.

FIGURE 1-2 Functional Organizational Structure

FOCUS OF MANAGEMENT: SELF, UNIT/TEAM, AND ORGANIZATION Effective health care management involves exercising professional judgment and skills and carrying out the aforementioned managerial functions at three levels: self, unit/team, and organization wide. First and foremost, the individual manager must be able to effectively manage himself or herself. This means managing time, information, space, and materials; being responsive and following through with peers, supervisors, and clients; maintaining a positive attitude and high motivation; and keeping a current understanding of management techniques and substantive issues of health care management. Drucker (2005) suggests that managing yourself also involves knowing your strengths, how you perform, your values, where you belong, and what you can contribute, as well as taking responsibility for your relationships. Managing yourself also means developing and applying appropriate technical, interpersonal, and conceptual skills and competencies and being comfortable with them, in order to be able to effectively move to the next level— that of supervising others.

The second focus of management is the unit/team level. The expertise of the manager at this level involves managing others in terms of effectively completing

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the work. Regardless of whether you are a senior manager, mid-level manager, or supervisor, you will be “supervising” others as expected in your assigned role. This responsibility includes assigning work tasks, review and modification of assignments, monitoring and review of individual performance, and carrying out the management functions described earlier to ensure excellent delivery of services. This focal area is where the actual work gets done. Performance reflects the interaction of the manager and the employee, and it is incumbent on the manager to do what is needed to shape the performance of individual employees. The focus of management at this echelon recognizes the task interdependencies among staff and the close coordination that is needed to ensure that work gets completed efficiently and effectively.

The third management focus is at the organizational level. This focal area reflects the fact that managers must work together as part of the larger organization to ensure organization-wide performance and organizational viability. In other words, the success of the organization depends upon the success of its individual parts, and effective collaboration is needed to ensure that this occurs. The range of clinical and nonclinical activities that occur within a health care organization requires that managers who head individual units work closely with other unit managers to provide services. Sharing of information, collaboration, and communication are essential for success. The hierarchy looks to the contribution of each supervised unit as it pertains to the whole. Individual managers’ contributions to the overall performance of the organization—in terms of various performance measures such as cost, quality, satisfaction, and access—are important and measured.

ROLE OF THE MANAGER IN ESTABLISHING AND MAINTAINING ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE Every organization has a distinct culture, known as the beliefs, attitudes, and behavior that are shared among organizational members. Organizational culture is commonly defined as the character, personality, and experience of organizational life i.e., what the organization really “is” (Scott, Mannion, Davies, & Marshall, 2003). Culture prescribes the way things are done, and is defined, shaped, and reinforced by the management team. All managers play a role in establishing the culture of a health care organization, and in taking the necessary leadership action to sustain, and in some cases change, the culture. Culture is

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shaped by the values, mission, and vision for the organization. Values are principles the organization believes in and shape the organization’s purpose, goals, and day-to-day behaviors. Adopted values provide the foundation for the organization’s activities and include such principles as respect, quality service, and innovation. The mission of the organization is its fundamental purpose, or what the organization seeks to achieve. The vision of the organization specifies the desired future state for the organization and reflects what the organization wants to be known and recognized for in the future. Statements of values, mission, and vision result from the organizational strategic planning process. These statements are communicated widely throughout the organization and to the community and shape organizational strategic and operational actions. Increasingly, organizations are establishing codes of conduct or standards of behavior that all employees must follow (Studer, 2003). These standards of behavior align with the values, mission, and vision. The role of managers in the oversight of standards of behavior is critical in several respects: for setting expectations for staff behavior, modelling the behavior, measuring staff performance, and improving staff performance. Mid- level and lower-level managers are instrumental to organization-wide adoption and embracing of the culture as they communicate desired behaviors and reinforce culture through modelling expectations through their own behaviors. For example, a value of customer service or patient focus requires that managers ensure proper levels of service by their employees via clarifying expectations and providing internal customer service to their own staff and other managers. Furthermore, managers can measure and evaluate employee compliance with organizational values and standards of behavior by reviewing employee performance and working with staff to improve performance. Performance evaluation will be explored in a later chapter in this text.

ROLE OF THE MANAGER IN TALENT MANAGEMENT In order to effectively master the focal areas of management and carry out the required management functions, management must have the requisite number and types of highly motivated employees. From a strategic perspective, health care organizations compete for labor, and it is commonly accepted today that high- performing health care organizations are dependent upon individual human performance, as discussed further in Chapter 12. Many observers have advocated for health care organizations to view their employees as strategic assets who can

 

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