When you begin reading a book and between the introduction and the first thirty pages of the book, you take 5 pages of notes, you know the information within is good. The book is Employee-Centered Management by Larry Wenger, MSW.
The book is written by a social worker with a long work history as front line staff, management, and currently focuses on training social service supervisors and managers.
The book is geared at non-profit organizations and agencies with the goal to focus on the staff; “Happy employees=happy clients.” A statistic within the book which surprised me was reading nearly 70% of current social service executives will reach retirement age by 2020. The other statistic was reading that only 30% of Americans are engaged in their work; this taken from the 2013 Gallup Engagement Survey. So there will be lots of executive positions to be filled within the next 6 years and there are too many social service employees not engaged in their work.
Larry Wenger has written about 20 strategies that should happen in social services which will enable employees to be excited about coming to work, make it possible to brag to others about on-the-job accomplishments, make one’s workplace successful, and exciting to be at. “Employers are responsible to create a workplace environment which encourages employee growth, success, excitement, engagement, and motivation.”
Hiring of employees, appointing great supervisors, orientation of new employees, delegation of tasks both successfully and appropriately, learning to trust, respect, recognition, solving problems creatively, communication, and the need to train employees are some of the topics covered within the book.
“Employees are our most important asset,” states Wenger. “To ensure commitment, employees need to be happily engaged in their work.”
The typical social service agency or organization earmarks available resources to the individuals served. Wenger states that part of the new formula and approach is that money and resources also needs to be earmarked for positive employee – supervisor relationships.
I will mention a few of the chapters covered in the book briefly-ones that stood out the most for me and I strongly suggest you read the book yourself to obtain all the information. In reality, all the chapters are good and can be beneficial.
Know your staff and the first part of this is the hiring process. Wenger describes 3 types of employees; builders- self-motivated, the ‘go to people;’ cutters- under perform, make poor decisions; and maintainers- perform adequately, have little creativity or motivation. Also, the need to focus on attitude, passion, and skills is necessary in the interview process.
To me it goes without saying that employers should want to focus on higher staff retention, burnout prevention, development of new skills, good communication, development of trust, encouragement of staff, recognition of work done well, accountability, and seek creative solutions from all staff. These are skills taught to social workers in school and they are skills and elements that need to be carried over into the work environment.
The book is worth reading, has good information within, and as Wenger states early in the book; “happy employees=happy clients.”
By Victoria Brewster, MSW
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