SOCW 6070 WK 5 responses: Respond to at least two colleagues by critiquing their short-term strategies individually for addressing the SPG case study.
Social Work Supervision, Leadership, and Administration: The Southeast Planning Group
The Southeast Planning Group (SPG) is an organization that was created in 2000 to facilitate the Office of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Continuum of Care planning process. The key elements of the approach were strategic planning, data collection systems, and an inclusive process that involved clients and service providers. The fundamental components of the system are 1) outreach, intake, and assessment; 2) emergency shelter; 3) transitional housing; and 4) permanent housing and permanent supportive housing. The outreach, intake, and assessment component identifies an individual’s or family’s needs in order to connect them with the appropriate resources. Emergency shelter provides a safe alternative to living on the streets. Transitional housing provides supportive services such as recovery services and life skills training to help clients develop the skills necessary for permanent housing. The final component, permanent housing, works with clients to obtain long-term affordable housing.
SPG works with the local government; service providers; the faith, academic, and business communities; homeless and formerly homeless individuals; and concerned citizens in the designated service area. During the first 5 years of its existence, SPG was staffed by one part-time and four full-time staff members and oversight was provided by a 21-member board. SPG’s founding director was well respected and liked in the community. She was noted for her ability to bring stakeholders across sectors together and focus on the single mission of ending homelessness.
After serving 5 years, the executive director abruptly resigned amidst rumors that she was forced out by the board. Although she had been effective in bringing people together, there were concerns that the goals and objectives had not been met, and there was a lack of confidence in her ability to grow the organization. Approximately one month after her resignation, a new executive director was hired.
One of the new director’s first priorities was to reconfigure the structure of the organization in order to increase efficiency. As a result of the restructuring, two positions were eliminated. The people who were let go had been with the organization from the beginning, and similar to the previous director, they had strong ties to the community. Once the community and SPG’s partners learned about the changes, there was suspicion about the new leadership and the direction they wanted to take SPG. Stakeholders were split in their views of the changes—some agreed that they were necessary in order to advance the goals of the organization, while others felt the new leadership was “taking over” with a hidden agenda to promote its own self-interest.
I worked with the group as an evaluation consultant to assess the SPG partnership during this period of transition. In order to assess how these changes were perceived by the stakeholders, I conducted key informant interviews with various stakeholders, both internal and external to the organization. The partners shared many insights about how the month without consistent leadership contributed to the uncertainty about SPG’s purpose and strategy, and it was generally agreed that the leadership transition was not handled well. The results from the evaluation were used to help SPG identify strategies to improve communication with stakeholders and utilize the director’s leadership role to build upon the organization’s past successes while preparing for future growth.
RE: Discussion – Week 5
Southeast Planning Group
The Southeast Planning Group, an organization that was focused on homelessness and addressing those concerns through outreach, assessments, and intake. Various stakeholders assisted SPG with addressing these issues with assisting with shelters, recovery, and skills needed for their life. Change took place through multiple levels and positions. The organization consisted of four full-time employees, and one part-time employee. After the founding executive resigned, the board brought in a new director. Original staff was let go and concerns unhappiness were raised by the stakeholders. The original staff were competent of the organizations operations, well as established community relationships. (Plummer, Makris, Brocksen, 2014b).
Suggest one strategy that might improve the organizational climate and return the organization to optimal functioning.
When a leader creates a constructive climate, he or she helps group members perform at their highest levels of excellence (Larson & LaFasto, 1989). In order to create a constructive climate, a leader needs to consider four factors: providing structure, clarifying norms, building cohesiveness, and promoting standards of excellence.
Seeing that the organization will consist of a new director and employees, it’s important for the director to establish a connection with the stakeholders and remind them of the organizations goal and establishing a climate where certain standards are required and expected. These 6 standards are listed as; Standards of excellence include six factors that are essential for members to function effectively:
What group members need to know and what skills they need to acquire
How much initiative and effort they need to demonstrate
How group members are expected to treat one another
The extent to which deadlines are significant
What goals they [group members] need to achieve
What the consequences are if they achieve or fail to achieve these goals (Larson & LaFasto, 1989, p. 95)
LaFasto, F. M. J., & Larson, C. E. (2001). When teams work best: 6,000 team members and leaders tell what it takes to succeed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., & Brocksen, S. M. (Eds.). (2014b). Social work case studies: Concentration year. Baltimore, MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing [Vital Source e-reader
RE: Discussion – Week 5
Change in SPG
An analysis of the change in The Southeast Planning Group (SPG) is a change in staffing dramatically. The director was let go by the board of directors abruptly; then, two more staff members were let go upon the new director’s arrival. All three of them were at the company from the beginning and had strong ties in the community (Plummer, Makris, & Brocksen, 2014b). Since the recent change, there has been a split in views of the company and how the future looks. Some people agree with the changes being made, and some do not.
Strategy to Improve Organizational Climate & Optimal Functioning
A strategy one could suggest to help improve the organizational climate and improve services back to optimal functioning is communication with everyone involved, including; staff members, stakeholders, and influential community members. During the communications, the new director needs to share the vision for the future of the company. Within the vision, the director needs to discuss “a picture, a change, values, a map, and a challenge”; the five characteristics of a vision (Northouse, 2021). The director needs to allow those present in the discussions to share their thoughts and views. Those attending should be encouraged to put their opinions and ideas into the vision for the company. The director needs to take their suggestions and views seriously and try to incorporate them into the company’s future, within reason.
The strategy would create the organization’s optimal functioning as the strategy would set out a plan transparently. Stakeholders would know what to expect, to an extent, and the strategy would make stakeholders feel as if they are apart of the organizational change.
Why Strategy Would Be Effective
This strategy would be useful as it would get everyone on the same page. There would be transparency in the actions taken, and stakeholders would feel more involved in the change process. Northouse (2021) stated, “making a vision a reality requires communication and action.” Due to the nature of the situation, the director will not effectively make positive change without appropriate communication with the stakeholders.
Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., & Brocksen, S. M. (Eds.). (2014b). Social work case studies: Concentration year. Baltimore, MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing [Vital Source e-reader].
Northouse, P. G. (2021). Introduction to leadership: Concepts and practice (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Sage.