Human Enterprise Development
Moving Beyond Dissatisfaction & Poor Performance

A national social service association, with a membership of 150,000 has been in turmoil for several years. Throughout this period staff has remained stable, but steadily increasing financial shortfalls and talk of downsizing are leading to talk of people jumping ship. Middle managers are complaining that top management is insensitive and inattentive to their issues. Projects are being held up, and there are questions about who has sign-off authority. Work is frequently coming to a frustrating crawl.

The director's issues

  • Need to assure the work flows more smoothly.
  • Need to find a way to provide support to middle managers so they perform effectively.

Our approach
We set up a "peer group" of middle managers and hold meetings regularly to discuss common issues. Through these discussions the managers confirm:

  • As a result of fluctuations in upper management focus, middle managers are getting confusing signals.
  • Work is coming to a halt as they try to interpret the sometimes contradictory signals.
  • Some work will continue to be very affected, but other areas can be dealt with more smoothly.
  • The vision and mission of the organization is shifting, and middle managers need to operate in new ways.

Middle managers empower themselves, asking, "Is the response to new issues available at this level, or do we need additional input?" They also ask, "Are we responding to organizational anxieties or realities?" Through their group meetings and frequent updates among themselves, they more fully appreciate the extent of their authority and organizational realities. Middle managers are more successful handling their workflow, and several start holding more frequent, regular meetings with their work groups to smooth workflow within their own departments.

Middle managers continue to be pleased with the outcome of their ongoing efforts to work closely with one another and not be unduly hampered by some of the difficulties that upper management faces.

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Case study in Human Enterprise Development - moving beyond poor performance
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Human Enterprise Development
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