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CHAPTER 3: DECISION MAKING
Key words and terms:
- Decision making processes
- Decision making conditions
- Programmed decisions
- Non-programmed decisions
- Experiential decision making (experience)
- Scientific decision making
The delivery of health services is continually changing. Therefore,
supervisors must acquire effective decision-making skills to address
these changes, as well as to solve the day- to -day problems that
they encounter in their departments. In order for supervisors to
make good decisions, they must receive guidelines from higher management
and utilize effective decision making techniques.
All lower, middle, and upper level managers make decisions, and
these decisions can be referred to as programmed or non-programmed
Programmed decisions involve problems with definite solutions.
Hunches and experience for example, are most often associated with
programmed decision making.
Non-programmed decisions refer to problems that have not been
encountered and have no definite solutions.
Notably, decision making is in the center of all managerial activities
such as planning, organizing, staffing, influencing, and controlling.
Through the decision-making process, managers help their organization
accomplish the expected outcome. It is important to note that the
decisions that managers make are influenced by both the internal
and external environment of an organization.
The five steps of the decision-making process are: (1) define
the problem, (2) analyze the problem, (3) develop as many alternative
solutions as possible, (4) evaluate the alternatives and select
the best solution, and (5) implement the solution and follow up.
How can a supervisor know that a problem exists? A supervisor
knows a problem exists when there is a deviation from what the
supervisor wants to happen.
Complete and accurate information is important in making the best
decision. Therefore, managers must learn as much as possible about
the problem or issue at hand before generating alternative solutions.
Managers should also evaluate how well does each alternative achieves
the desired outcome before selecting the best one.
Decision making criteria: feasibility, risk, timing, acceptability,
ethics, resources, and economy. Taking into account these many
decision making criteria, the best decision is selected.
In addition, scientific decision-making techniques such as quantitative
analysis, models, and computer applications are available to managers
to solve problems.
CHAPTER 4: COORDINATING ORGANIZATIONAL ACTIVITIES
Key words and terms:
- Division of work
- Supervisory management
- Vertical coordination
- Horizontal coordination
- Diagonal coordination
Division of work is dividing a job into manageable tasks and taking
into account the skills and abilities of the people who will be
performing the job.
- linking together activities
- an association between resources, information, and services
- group effort
A manager who performs the five managerial functions well will
certainly achieve coordination. In other words coordination is
derived from the execution of planning, organizing, staffing, influencing,
One of the more challenging tasks for managers when they are coordinating
activities is to ensure cooperation. Cooperation means people working
together willingly for a common purpose. The cooperation of others
is helpful when coordinating activities. Nonetheless, a manager
cannot depend solely on cooperation to achieve the desired outcome.
It is important to note that all levels of management coordinate
activities. However, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is responsible
for all activities within a health care organization. Coordination
occurs vertically, horizontally, and diagonally.
Vertical coordination relies on authority and it occurs between
different levels of an organization. Meanwhile, one can say that
vertical coordination can be better accomplished if management
uses wisdom and insights when performing the functions of planning,
organizing, staffing, influencing, and controlling.
Horizontal coordination involves personnel and departments on
the same level, working together to achieve a particular goal.
Problems may arise when horizontal coordination is carried out
because one department does not ordinarily have the authority to
direct another department. Horizontal coordination is usually mandated
by policies and procedures. Issues regarding horizontal coordination
should be referred to higher management.
Diagonal coordination is important because various departments
may depend on a particular department to achieve a specific goal.
External coordination can be achieved through a liaison person.
This person can facilitate communication with people that are outside
of the organization.
CHAPTER 5 - COMMUNICATING
Key words and terms
- formal channel
- informal channel
- upward communication
- downward communication
- horizontal communication/lateral communication
- diagonal communication
- communication media
- verbal or oral communication
- written communication
- nonverbal communication
- body language
- poor communication
- barriers to communication
- workplace diversity
- status and position
- resistance to change
- bias and prejudices
Definition of communication: Communication is the process of passing
information from one person to another in an understandable way.
Communication Process: Communication can be broken down into the
following elements: sender (encoder), message, channel, receiver
(decoder), and feedback
In the health field, the people we communicate with are managers,
physicians, colleagues, subordinates, patients and families, agencies,
and others. Regardless of the level of management, all managers
must be able to communicate well because the success of performing
the management functions partly depends on effective communication.
Poor communication in the workplace has a negative impact on interpersonal
relationships and could prevent employees from performing well;
whereas effective communication enhances employee performance and
improves the manner in which they interact with each other.
Consequences of poor communication in the workplace:
- lost of time because tasks may have to be repeated
- frustration because employees are not sure what to do
- waste of resources if tasks are to be repeated
- low productivity
- employees may be trustless because messages are misunderstood
- creates risk of harm to employees, clients, and others based
on the circumstance
How can communication improve in the workplace?
- sufficient preparation
- direct language
- effective listening and sensitivity
- appropriate actions
Channels of communication: Formal and informal channel
The formal channel is the formal path through which information
flows. The formal channel utilizes downward, upward, horizontal,
and diagonal communication to send information through the organizational
Supervisors, for example, use downward channels to send messages
The upward channels are utilized by both subordinates and supervisors.
Subordinates send messages to the supervisor, and supervisors send
these messages to their superior.
Horizontal channels are used when sending messages across departments
and among peer managers.
Diagonal channels are used to send messages between positions
that are on different lateral planes and activities in the organization.
The informal channel is the grapevine. A major contribution of
the grapevine is that management can use it as an outlet to disseminate
information that could not be provided through the formal channel
of communication (see example on page 82 in the text). The informal
channel though, contains truthful information, gossips, and rumors.
It is not the channel of choice to get accurate information.
Media used for communication: verbal or oral, written, visual,
CHAPTER 6 – LEGAL ASPECTS OF THE HEALTHCARE SETTING
Key words and terms:
- vicarious liability
- respondeat superior
- borrowed servant doctrine
- ostensible agency
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- sexual harassment
- Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
Legal issues in a health care setting:
- patient, employee, and visitors injury
- negligent conduct of independent contractors
- negligent conduct of employees
- unlawful discharge
- sexual harassment
- laws governing employee leave for family and medical reasons
- laws governing workplace safety
- laws governing the portability of insurances and medical information
- laws governing physical and emotional disabilities
The doctrine of respondeat superior:
Respondeat superior (let the master answer) is the doctrine that
holds employees responsible for the negligent conduct of its employees
during the course and scope of employment. Notably, employers are
not responsible for the criminal conduct of their employees.
For an employer to be held liable for the negligent conduct of
its employees, the following conditions must exist:
1. An employer-employee relationship
2. the negligent conduct must occur during the course and scope
Who is an employee? A person who works under the direct supervision
of an employer and is receiving compensation for the work provided.
Ordinarily, an employer is not responsible for the negligent conduct
of independent contractors. However, in certain circumstances the
employer could be held liable based on the principle of ostensible
agency. This doctrine or principle is a principal/agent relationship.
This principle can be applied when patients do not know and are
not expected to know that they are receiving the services of an
independent contractor. If it appears to the patients that the
independent contractor is an employee, the hospital, for example,
can be held liable under the doctrine of ostensible agency (see
example on page 98, second paragraph in your text).
Factors the courts have found to determine that ostensible agency
or vicarious liability existed are listed on pages 98 -99 in your
Captain of the ship doctrine: This doctrine holds the surgeon
responsible for the negligent conduct of the operating room personnel.
The rationale is that the operating room personnel are temporarily
the borrowed servants of the surgeon and are directly under his
control and supervision. However, on a case-by-case basis many
courts have rejected the application of the captain of the ship
doctrine and rather hold the health institution liable for the
negligent conduct of operating personnel under the doctrine of
What is negligence: the doing of something a reasonable person
would not do under a given circumstance, and not doing what a reasonable
person would have done under a given circumstance. Notably, the
reasonable person will normally act prudently and with care.
Elements of negligence:
To prove an action for negligence, a plaintiff must show:
1. duty owed
2. breach of duty
One of the tests commonly used to determine a negligent act is
Are supervisors liable for the negligent conduct of the people
they supervise under the doctrine of respondeat superior?
Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, supervisors are not
held liable for the negligent conduct of the people they supervise
because the supervisor is not the employer. However, a supervisor
can be held liable for negligent supervision.
CHAPTER 7 – MANAGERIAL PLANNING
Key words and terms:
- strategic planning
- environmental assessment
- internal assessment
- external assessment
- SWOT analysis
- short term planning
- planning horizon
- long term planning
- effective management
- management by objective
Planning is a continuous process and provides a basis for all other
management functions. Supervisors/managers must have plans before
they can even think of utilizing the organization’s resources
to achieve goals. Such plans reduce uncertainty and duplication,
eliminate or minimize waste, establish coordination, objectives
Strategic planning focuses on the market environment in which
an organization is operating. Although strategic planning is mainly
the job of upper management, during the process supervisors are
encouraged to make contributions. The process of strategic planning
includes defining the mission, developing visions, setting goals
and objectives, developing operations (such as assigning specific
tasks and responsibilities), and monitoring the plan.
The mission of the organization should be clear and concise and
must describe what the organization does and why it exists. The
mission statement of an organization cannot be defined without
conducting a SWOT analysis. By conducting a SWOT analysis, the
organization will be able to determine its strengths and weaknesses,
as well as identifying opportunities and threats in the external
An environmental assessment may include the current, past, and
potential future customers of the organization, competitors in
the area, new innovations, government laws that have a bearing
on the organization’s activities, and industry indicators.
The vision articulates the direction the organization is heading
in the next five years. It is the responsibility of upper management
to establish objectives to guide the future of the organization.
The Use of Goals and Objectives in Planning: Goals imply the end
result an organization is trying to attain. An objective implies
what actions to take to achieve the set goals. Goals and objectives
then, are the steering force in the planning process or in other
words they are the first step in planning. Without goals, the organization
would be unable to establish policies, procedures, methods, programs,
projects, and budgets. The use of objectives in planning helps
supervisors to carry out the managerial functions.
The following is an example of a statement that defines a department
goals and objectives:
The director of nutrition services at a hospital states that she
wants to provide nutritious meals at good value for her customers.
Planning Periods: Short term, intermediate, and long term planning
Short term planning covers a time frame of one year and usually
takes place at the supervisory level. However, the short term plans
of the supervisor must fit with the long term plans of the organization.
Intermediate planning covers a period of five years and has fewer
uncertainties than long term planning.
Long term planning usually goes beyond five years and it is generally
done by top level administration such as the CEO of a hospital.
The longer the planning time frame, the more uncertainties in the
Management by objective (MBO) is a tool that managers or supervisors
use to achieve the desired outcome or results. Both the supervisor
and the subordinate must establish goals. The supervisor must ensure
that the goals are tied with rewards. To accomplish these goals,
the subordinate must develop objectives that are specific, measurable,
result oriented, and attainable within a specified time frame.
The supervisor should provide feedback periodically because communication
is an important factor in determining the success of MBO. The supervisor
may modify objectives and renegotiate resources to help the subordinate
to achieve the desired results.
CHAPTER 8: FORECASTING
Forecasting is a planning tool that is available to all levels
of management. Supervisors make departmental forecasts in terms
of technology, and labor requirements. These labor requirements
include skill changes, impact of technology on staffing requirements,
and compensation modification.
It is important to note that forecasting is not an exact science.
However, the supervisor is attempting to predict the future based
on information. Such information can be collected from attending
lectures, national meetings, reading journal articles. From this
information, supervisors can make assumptions, judgments, approximations,
and give an opinion on what to anticipate in the future. Sometimes,
the forecast may be accurate and other times it will not materialize
because there is no exact formula or technique to predict the future.
CHAPTER 9: TACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS IN PLANNING
This chapter discusses the various techniques that are available
when making changes to implement plans. For example when implementing
plans, one strategy could be pulling resources together and
taking action all at once. Another strategy is getting a foot
door. Other strategies would be requiring others to join in
and support the change planned and utilizing a team effort.
When management is planning the utilization of resources, they
should consider the following: utilization of the workforce, utilization
of equipment and other machinery, safety, use of space, materials
When planning for equipment, the manager or supervisor ensures
that employees use equipment with care, recognizes the downtime
of current pieces of equipment, should evaluate equipment in cooperation
with the medical staff and other users, must consider whether the
equipment is cost effective, should identify the impact of the
equipment on patient care.
When supervisor plan for safety in a hospital, they must consider
the safety of patients, employees, as well as the public. Malpractice
suits are common and safety should be a priority in planning.
The use of materials and supplies must be managed properly. Supervisors
must be diligent in ensuring that these resources are not wasted
or stolen. Space in a department must be planned; lack of adequate
space or inefficient utilization of space can have a negative impact
on the operation of the department to include low productivity.
Notably, a supervisor manages a variety of resources, but of all
of these resources, human resources are the most important resource.
CHAPTER 10: PLANNING TOOLS
Key words and terms
- single use plans
- repeat –use plans
CHAPTER 11- TIME MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Key words and terms:
- desk calendar
- computer scheduling system
- planning sheet
- time-use chart
- regular supervisory duties
- special duties
- boss imposed time
- system imposed time
- self imposed time
- subordinate imposed time
- discretionary time
- theory Y
- theory X
Chapter 11 provides information on how supervisors spend their
time, and identifies various tools to manage time. This chapter
also focuses on the need to manage the time of subordinates, and
other options available to schedule work.
Generally, effective supervisors use different tactics to enhance
time management. Some of these strategies include prioritizing
tasks, monitoring activities, and delegating some duties to staff
The three kinds of management time are boss-imposed time, system-imposed
time, and self-imposed time.
Various tools are available to help supervisors manage their own
time. They include desk calendars, computer scheduling system,
list, and planning sheet.
It is beneficial to both the organization and employees if supervisors
consider flextime, telecommuting, and modified work shifts in their
Advantages of flexible work schedules:
1. Provides employees with the opportunity to adjust work to meet
the other personal demands.
2. Improves employee satisfaction, productivity, and time utilization
Disadvantages of flexible work schedules:
1. Problems with proper supervision of employee
2. Difficulty in coordinating activities
3. Increased fatigue and errors
The advantages of flexible work schedule outweigh the disadvantages
because supervisors can plan effectively to prevent or minimize
the problems associated with flexible work schedules.