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Take a human service agency

Posted: February 24, 2013 - 12:10am

Take a human service agency and give it a snappy slogan (safe and strong — who could argue with that!). Employ a management model akin to that used with galley slaves chained to an oar on a Roman war ship.

Once dead, throw the body overboard and bring up another one from below deck. After two weeks of direct instruction have them, armed with a sweatshirt, a pen and clip board, have them knock on doors with a suspected meth lab on the other side. Expect them to engage clients with kind caring understanding to promote positive change by building relationships but use adversarial emotional terrorism back at the office as the management style.

Aversive control strategies (e.g., punishment — cancel vacations, force overtime) are the predominant management tactics where employees experiencing abuse (assign over 100 cases) and neglect (you are own your own) is acceptable.

Ambush, hound, micromanage, triple caseloads, assign cases late then criticize untimely completion. Focus on subservient, obedient, compliance — never on growth. Hire a disproportional number of one gender already in the majority. Promote unlicensed lifers according to the Peter Principle. Accept a steady stream of faces coming and going.

Openly state it takes two years to do the job and accept an average employment length of stay of 17 months. Have no staff retention program. Just make sure someone can be sacrificed. How bad does management have to be for five people (an entire unit) — whose job it is to protect the vulnerable — to leave in four months?

It does not matter, just bring up another body from down below.

Toxic.

Wasteful.

Disturbing.

Who can put this agency on the road to recovery?

J.L. Peebles

Douglas, AK

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