Cambian and other organisations are failing, what can we do?

So I’m perusing the worldwide web and come across something I’ve seen before called Glassdoor: a website that is a jobs and recruiting site. An algorithm has guided me to this site and to stuff about cambian in particular. I’m intrigued and want to read what others have written about cambian and as is the way with many such sites now you need to sign up with them to gain access. In this case I have to reveal some details about myself as well as pros and cons about the company plus advice for the management, predictably I can’t resist.

So, after unloading my heart felt opinions about the beloved cambian (they score 2.4/5, a rather generous score I feel) I read through what others have written. Themes soon emerge with workers pro about working with mutually supportive staff and working with students/clients. The cons of the failings of management, both senior management within institutions and at board level.

Now I am firmly of the opinion that for any organisation the lead is provided by the leaders, tautology eh? Therefore if there is disgruntlement amongst the lower ranks (that is anyone below ceo level) then it comes from the ‘top’. It is the philosophies and practice of leaders that are ultimately responsible. If, for example, they have an autocratic style (my way or the highway) then it feeds down through the organisation and distorts relationships through workers relative levels of power. From this there is likely to be increasing discontent as one descends the ranks and a direct correlation between job satisfaction and power over one’s job conditions. Some evidence for this can be read in the many comments about cambian on Glassdoor.

A common defence very senior managers might use is that of the ‘few bad apples’ within an organisation, those who operate independently for their own nefarious ends. Well this is a poor defence as any organisational systems overseeing ‘performance’ are clearly inadequate. Oxfam tried this line early on and it is rapidly unravelling.

One could go on about the failings of management, but it is relatively easy to have a go at others, less easy to provide constructive answers, just witness the ‘hardline’ brexiters.

I think that over the years of my teaching career I developed basic philosophies and practice that worked increasingly well within my own little classroom world. I would argue that this was despite senior management, although they would often leave me alone; “he’s a maverick but he gets results” was one comment made about me. Now whilst this boosted my little ego, further cogitation saddened me as there seemed no systems or more senior interest in investigating this phenomena. No ‘spreading of good practice’, no reflectiveness, no creative exploitation; sad.

But it did increasingly confirm my belief that the best workers are often those who have the most control and power over their work. Our quasi-religious belief in hierarchical structures, from the royal family, through our class system and into almost all our organisations is bollocks.

And yet it can change and I read of a brilliant example today:

“But rather than managers imposing new performance targets, Rutland tried something different. Staff were asked to identify a few core problems and focus on them. Teams of staff with different skills were then formed to come up with alternative ways of resolving the issues. Senior managers didn’t have to sign anything off: their role was to help teams overcome any barriers getting in the way of what staff wanted to achieve.

The result has been striking. Over two years, the team saw an 85% reduction in delays moving patients into social care and a 77% fall in the number of people entering permanent care. There has also been a significant boost to staff morale and a fall in vacancies.”

Startling results eh?

And I would wager that if all organisations started working this way there would be similar results and many other benefits: less abuse, less work-related absenteeism, less pressure on health and social services, less high staff turnover, ….. add your own here.

And do you know what? Financial profits would increase too.

agile-management-30-holacracywhat-next-4-638 (1)

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.




One thought on “Cambian and other organisations are failing, what can we do?

  1. Good comment and I concur both with Glassdoor review and concern with cambian’s shortcomings. Interesting article outlining Rutland council approach – it is beautiful thinking and blindingly simple – therefore not something we can hope to see being adopted by cambian. Our school, not content with a bloated senior management team added an additional layer between them and the (dwindling) teaching staff. Not sure what their purpose was – I suspect to take flak for failed senior management iniatives from parents and staff. They also were used to monitor and bully teachers. And like you, there was no sharing of practice – education was sidelined as being of little importance to young people. We were actually barred from speaking in the daily briefing !! But could submit comments via email to one of the sub level senior managers who would decide if they would read a censored version in said meeting. A Rutland approach would have been wonderful: I found more intelligence from the cleaning staff and long serving carers than management, but they had no voice although their expertise with young people was superior to all the bollocks coming from all stratas of management and therapy.


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