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Painful Politics: Is the Boss Willing to Confront the Office Manager?

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

painful politicsHere’s a cautionary tale from the real world. If you can relate to this story, it can either help or hinder a hospital or group practice. You may have experienced times when a sour culture or negative internal attitudes stand in the way producing superior results. Briefly, here’s the backstory from a multi-location healthcare organization.

We will not mention names, but we’ve been providing a New York group practice both marketing and staff training services for some time. The strategy is sound, and the organization’s top management is supportive. In addition, staff members enjoy the staff training. It’s an opportunity to learn, to improve professionally, and to deliver greater service to patients in their care.

So…what’s wrong with this picture?

It turns out that the intermediate management level is resistant to change. (Nearly hostile to change, in fact.) This all-important administrative buy-in—between the top boss and the staff—is missing. And the program suffers. Without the support and encouragement of direct supervisors, individual staff training falls on its face.

Investigating further, we find that there’s an “old school” culture in the workplace. The attitude is that introducing anything new is seen as “rocking the boat.” And any sort of change will mean additional work.

Having the courage to do the right thing…

We explained our findings to the top boss in the organization. Office politics was defeating progress. Without program acceptance and support at the middle management level, sooner or later the training and marketing initiative will fail.

In our view, top management needs the courage to confront the old school attitudes and negative politics in the office culture. Ordinarily, it’s not our place to spotlight troublesome issues. But we felt we had a duty to do the right thing.

If the organization’s top management is unaware of the resistance barrier, or if there is no buy-in at the administrative level, the return on investment in training becomes minimal.

Managers… manage...

Talk about how courage comes with the job, and duty too. I recently had conversations with two of our own young managers both about some uncomfortable subjects. They both had to confront their subordinates and didn’t want to do it. I reminded them that is what being a manager is for…

IS the risk worth it?

Sometimes you could get shot for being the messenger, yes. BUT you could also get shot for NOT doing your duty and raising the issue you should have. Wouldn’t you rather risk on the side of doing the right thing?

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