In your Responsive Leadership in Social Services textbook, read the following:
Use the Capella University Library to read the following:
APA style/Include references and site resources
250 words Minimum, 500 words MAX
Answer questions fully and completely
Review Situation 3 on page 59 of your Responsive Leadership in Social Services textbook(See below), which discusses an empowerment project done in a child welfare agency. The project provided participants with unexpected insights. This project took place within a specific agency.
In your initial post, discuss how the same insights about engagement, motivation, and understanding the story of participants would be beneficial to successful outcomes in a multi-organizational collaborative project. Describe what you see as the three key take-away points from this situation. Explain why you believe these are the three key points.
Situation 3: One small difference can make BIG differences. I have had the privilege of working on some amazing projects that were geared toward enhancing social work team capacity. One project in particular, the Empowering Social Workers (ESW) Project (de Groot, 2006), was directed at empowering child welfare workers through a strengths-based approach to embrace and alter challenging workplace realities in a manner that would result in increased optimism, morale, empowerment, and team cohesion. A significant point to mention is that the ESW Project was initiated at the same time as what people refer to as the “worst time in child welfare in our province’s history.” The project was launched days prior to the discovery of an atrocious child death and the subsequent negative and tumultuous child death review that followed. This is important not because many project participants stated that it was the worst time to be working in child welfare in their entire careers but because the project demonstrated that we can effect positive change even at a time when workers in a system are feeling the most devalued, unsupported, and demoralized. There were a number of purposeful and unintentional insights gleaned from the project. The hypothesis that we could effect positive changes in worker experience and overall workplace climate was confirmed in our work. This was exciting as it affirmed and validated the idea that we could positively affect workplace climate even if political, bureaucratic, fiscal, organizational, and workplace challenges continued to persist. However, despite the intentional deductions gathered, there were two significant surprises that occurred, one during the project and the other during project follow-up. The first surprise that occurred within the project was the importance the supervisor played in the experiences of workers and of the workplace climate overall. Many project participants reported being dissatisfied with supervisory support and/or supervision due to a variety of factors. Some of these factors included a new supervisor being placed with the team, the team not knowing the supervisor, the supervisor not knowing all of the team members, diverse and differential staff support and supervision needs, trust and safety requiring more effort and work, little acknowledgment or validation by the supervisor, and workplace challenges making it hard on the supervisor (de Groot, 2006, p. 121). It is important to note that when the project supervisor learned of this information following the project report, he was surprised and his feelings were hurt. However, like many great leaders, he agreed to team building in order facilitate a better understanding and accommodation of individual team members’ needs and preferences for supervisory support and supervision. He wanted to do the best for his members and staff. I was asked to facilitate the initiative. I referred to the exercise as “Preferred Supervision: Identifying Needs to Succeed.” This process was very successful and initiated steps the supervisor could take to enhance overall leadership quality for individual team members. At the time, I did not know that it was this process that stimulated the early development of the Preferred Leadership Profile (PLP), which I will discuss further in this chapter. The second and most surprising revelation occurred during project follow-up and debriefing. Because the ESW Project was measuring changes in key areas such as worker feelings of optimism, empowerment, morale, and team cohesion, the evaluation design required two groups: the project group and the control group. The two groups were as identical as possible in size, location, number of team members, types of clients, number of cases, years of experience, and so on. What I found to be fascinating were the differences in overall worker satisfaction and workplace climate between the two teams. The control group reported a significantly higher level of morale, optimism, and team cohesion. What did most of them attribute it to? It was in large part due to the perceived supportiveness and supervision quality of the supervisor! This was exciting: an insight that confirmed the importance employee perceptions have on worker experiences and workplace climate. More importantly, the greatest insight was that these two teams operated in similar environments with similar and persisting organizational and workplace challenges, yet due to positive worker perceptions of leadership quality, things were much better overall for the control team and its members. This particular situation surfaced important themes that were positively impactful then, and the insights gained continue to influence my understanding of the importance of perception on effective supervision and overall leadership quality. Some of these themes are as follows: Worker perceptions and experiences of supervision have a significant impact on optimism, morale, job satisfaction, and workplace climate. Supervisors, by tuning into worker needs and preferences, can enhance the quality of supervision and support for workers. Effective supervision and quality supervisory support can buffer workers against the stress and challenges of a trying and difficult work environment. Each of the three scenarios, in unique ways, demonstrates the role worker perceptions play in their experience of supervision and perceived supervisory support. While all of the lessons learned, including themes that emerged from the situations presented above, are valuable, it is the final bullet of the third scenario (Effective supervision and quality supervisory support can buffer workers against the stress and challenges of a particular work environment) that I find the most fascinating and profound. Situation 3 continues to confirm for me the power that quality leadership can have on workers’ perceptions and experiences of the work and the work climate. I have been referring to supervision as a mechanism of leadership and have made reference to the context of supervision as representing an environment within an environment. Situation 3 clearly speaks to these ideas. Supervision as a mechanism can operate as a safe-haven for workers, especially during extremely difficult and challenging times. It reinforces the idea that while we may not be able to change or alter many of the bureaucratic, political, fiscal, and/or organizational impediments to good practice, as mentioned in Chapter 1, quality supervision and supervisory support can positively enhance workers’ experience of themselves, the work, and the organization overall. It is in the context of these scenarios that we may have a partial yet profound solution to the question posed by Patti (2009). That is, how do we create organizational conditions that will lead to positive worker perceptions, attitudes, and behavior in order to bring about the highest quality and the most effective service? It is through a quality leadership experience wherein the leader places primacy on the importance of the workers’ perceptions of themselves and the work but above all their perceptions of the quality of supervision and supervisory support.
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