I interviewed an executive for this column and what follows is a summary from my interview with her of a typical day in her life in the agency.
The day usually starts in the office at 7:30 am or earlier. Getting in early before the buzz of wake- up time in a group home allowed her to read the previous night’s reports and take appropriate action “especially if there is a critical incident report on her desk. She also scanned the local newspaper for any news that might be relevant to the agency. She then sent an email to a local agency to follow-up on an agreement from the previous night’s meeting.
Once those priority items are taken care of, especially the action she takes after reading the critical incident report, she meets with her leadership team for a brief update on the day’s plans (and potential problems ). If she needs to take no other action of decision, she makes an important telephone call to a new Board member who has agreed to chair a long-range planning committee. The call ends with her thanking the new member for being willing to head up this important task force.
She also takes a call from a parent of one of the girls in treatment who needs clarification about her daughter’s next steps after she leaves the treatment center.
After the calls she heads to the lounge for a coffee pick-up, but is stopped in the hall by a staff member who is struggling with an ailing elderly parent who needs to take some time off to move for her father to a nursing home. She agrees to this request and writes a note to herself to tell the scheduling supervisor about the change in staffing.
Back to her office for her weekly read of the financial situation report from her business manager. The report indicates that the the agency is close to being over budget this month, so she walks over to his office and asks for advice on dealing with the problem. They agree on an email to go out to supervisors and staff stressing the need for more careful funding in planning events.
After a brief walk through of the facility to observe the kids, staff and the cleanliness of the facility she drives downtown for a working lunch with the union representative regarding upcoming salary negotiations. While downtown she heads for the University to teach a class on “The Dilemmas of Human Service Management” (a class she does once a quarter for the school of social work).
Back at the agency after her class she arrives late to a progress report meeting of one of the boys in the oldest unit who is having problems getting along with the other boys in his unit. The staff agrees to a new “handling” plan. An interesting issue arises near the end of the meeting which is discussed with much animation. The issue is whether to describe the boy in their report as an emotionally disturbed youth or an at-risk boy or a kid struggling with a slow developmental problem. The discussion focused on how each generation describes or labels their problem children. The meeting ended without agreement, except the need for more study about what terms to use when talking with the Board, the community and the newspapers about our clients.
While driving home after the meeting she keeps thinking about the last problem and still can’t decide which way to go. After dinner she talks briefly about the day with her spouse/partner, watches the evening news and finally at about 11 or so, heads for sleep.
The most striking aspects about what this executive does is the variety of complicated and demanding tasks which she faces daily, the number of constituents she deals with, the range of professional skills she employs and the shifts in roles she takes on throughout her day.