For Behavioral Health and Community Services Managers

The challenges of 2020 still add a heavy layer of complexity to the already challenging role of managing these essential organizations.  William James College is offering a free resource to managers in community organizations to provide support, reduce isolation, and brainstorm and share strategies for effective management and getting through the current challenges. 

Behavioral health and community services managers are invited to join free, drop-in virtual meetings. Sessions will use the framework of crisis and risk management, and effective, excellent, and ideal management during disruptive times to organize an open, confidential discussion among participants. Sessions are open to managers at any level serving in any mental health or community service organization, including state government human service departments, in New England (MA, RI, NH, CT, ME).

A group hosted by Drs. Paul Block, associate professor, Leadership and Management in Clinical Psychology at William James College, and Brittainy Charette, senior organizational development specialist at WEX, Inc., for several months explored topics of importance to managers. A list of these topics, and related resources, follows: 

  • How to support staff through the impact of circumstances on their ability to be helpful, as well as their own adjustment
    • Read more on taking care of yourself while taking care of a team from Harvard Business Review, here and the NeuroLeadership Institute, here
    • Here is another great resource on courageously managing through and beyond a crisis, from HBR.
  • Managing from a distance: management techniques beyond individual supervision
    • Learn more from Harvard about managing virtual teams: overcoming common challenges
    • A more general article reviewing leadership styles and their impact on performance beyond the influence of direct contact 
  • Using clients' reactions to the crisis (the "crisis of the week/month/year") to support long term growth
    • Addressed in the attached document (within the context of TF-CBT, but more broadly applicable, and with a lovely quote from another source).
  • Moving from initial adjustment and survival to trying to be effective:
    • Exhaustion, including changes in social patterns resulting from the pandemic (less of the direct signals about helpfulness and feedback we usually get from being with our clients, and decreased engagement from clients).
    • Fears related to productivity and risk for layoffs, 
    • A recent group discussed the lessons and opportunities this shift is creating:
      • Forcing ourselves to stay connected (which in some cases is leading to reports of more connection and interaction)
      • Using the opportunity to experiment with new ways of doing things
      • Instead of focusing on the challenges or changes in how we're doing our roles, thinking about what new possibilities these circumstances make possible.  What can be done differently that will work better under these circumstances:
        • Less obtrusive observation and coaching- "fly on the wall" or virtual coach, like in family therapy when you're watching through a window and sometimes calling in with suggestions;
        • Being available at times that would be important but not usually workable given schedules;
        • Seeing people functioning in their real environments, inc. for home-based therapists without the same degree of impact of our presence. 
      • How, not only does this enable adjustment to continue feeling effective and to make this work, but that there are lessons all will be able to take when we go back to our old routines.
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