The interview with Donna Johnson-Thompson (the Executive Director and the member of the Board of Trustees) of Newark Day Center provides an insight into the problems and challenges a leader may encounter in the course of management of a child care center. In particular, the range of issues includes troubles with meeting the financial obligations of the facility, ensuring its seamless work under the conditions of insufficient staffing, and the lack of managerial skills in the leadership team. At the same time, the employees’ commitment to the mission of the center is high, which provides the latter with the ability to achieve goals and implement programs that focus on ensuring the well-being of the community even in the unfavorable conditions.
Moreover, during the interview, the CEO of the center gives recommendations to the leaders working in the environment of non-profit organizations and points out the importance of stability and harmony within the team, as well as the managers’ lack of self-centeredness. She claims that the staff was able to address some of the managerial and organizational problems, including the balancing of the budget, but also notes that there still are many areas that require further development. Finally, the interview reveals the plans of the CEO in the long-term perspective. These include the improvement of the financial stability of the center and the problem of the irrational use of work time by leaders and employees. Additionally, the ultimate goal involves making the organization exist and function for another two hundred years.
The analysis of the interview allows pointing out the features of the facility and its personnel, as well as those of its CEO. First of all, it is possible to state that the democratic leadership style and high level of trust and commitment to the ideals of Newark Day Center are the strong points of the organization. In particular, the CEO states that all of them are ready to work even in the most difficult conditions, which include overtime, pay cuts and short workdays to lower the strain on the center’s budget and ensure that it provides assistance for people in need. As a result, it is possible to expect the organization to survive in highly unstable environment, with it passing through the most difficult periods of its life cycle relatively painlessly. Moreover, such motivation of the workers contributes to the credibility of the center, not only making it more popular among the clients, but also increases the center’s chances to obtain more financial injections in the future (Pynes, 2013). In turn, it may allow addressing some of its current problems, providing an increase in efficiency of the facility as a whole.
At the same time, the democratic leadership style used by the CEO has several considerable setbacks that become obvious after the analysis of the interview. The first of them is the difficulty of maintenance of efficiency. In particular, heads of the departments often experience difficulties with reporting their progress. Such situation may hinder the short- and long-term plans of the organization, making it difficult to allocate the financial resources efficiently and, therefore, lowering its productivity (Wolf, 2012). The severity of the problem is so imminent that in some cases, the CEO even has to resort to the use of the authoritarian leadership style (“putting the hat on”, according to her), placing the subordinates before the fact that the lack of effort on their part will result in the cessation of funding.
Naturally, one may assume that such shifts, especially within the environment of a human services organization that uses the principles of goodwill and charity as guidance, may have a negative effect on its integrity. For example, directory (authoritarian) style of management is the least efficient in several cases, namely when the leaders try to apply it to the process of solution of controversial problems, including the financial ones the organization strives to overcome. As a result, the more complex the task is, the lower the efficiency of this style is, to the extent of revolt in the team. It is also inapplicable in the long-term perspective, which also presents an issue of seeing that the ultimate goal of the CEO is to ensure that the center stands strong for another two hundred years. Finally, it is unacceptable when the manager has to deal with motivated employees, namely the ones willing to sacrifice their free time to help the others (Pynes, 2013). Thus, one can assume that the probability of conflicts between leaders and their subordinates is relatively high.
On the contrary, despite such inconsistency, the interview reveals the high degree of professionalism of the CEO of Newark Day Center. First of all, there are yet to be any significant failures due to the flexible planning of the facility’s activity, which makes it possible to make necessary adjustments without disrupting or cancelling any tasks or programs. The leadership team achieves this goal through the creation of detailed weekly reports that reflect the financial condition of the center and allow making changes imperative for meeting the budget projections and the development of realistic plans (Bryson, 2011). Moreover, the CEO sets an example for subordinates by performing even insignificant tasks, meaning that the distance between the leader and other employees is minimal. As a result, it is possible to assume that the workers perceive her as a part of the team. For instance, when the Executive Director has to resort to the use of the authoritarian leadership style, it does not have a considerable effect on the integrity of the organization. However, it is still necessary to reduce risks even more by improving efficiency of the organizational system and ensuring that work is done in time.
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The next setback of the democratic leadership the facility experiences at the time is the slowdown of various processes that occur within it, which results in the inability to use time rationally. The justification of this statement is present in the interview as the CEO acknowledges that the leadership team of the organization requires training with the purpose of development of the skills and abilities focusing on time management. One can assume that despite the personnel’s willingness to contribute to the success of the center, the lack of planning on their part, inadequate assessment of their abilities, performance, and efficiency, as well as the inability to control their requirements (in thoughts, communication, and expression of emotions), they cannot achieve the goals of the center (Pynes, 2013). As a result, the activity of the latter becomes much less productive.
Additionally, judging by the responses of the CEO, financial stability of the organization is relatively low, with it primarily relying on grants and donations as its source of funding. On the one hand, they provide the necessary support to projects that are not profitable but play an important role in the development of the community or society. Moreover, the activities that do not receive adequate funding from the state also rely on them. For example, a non-profit organization often uses grants as either the main or even the only source of income to pay for facilities, equipment, and work of employees. At the same time, the entities usually provide grants on the competitive basis, which makes them rather unpredictable (Wolf, 2012). The management of the facility acknowledges this problem and intends to address it in the future. However, currently, all the measures focusing on the improvement of the situation involve writing more grants, which does not contribute to the stability and survivability of the center due to the volatility of such method attracting financial resources (Wolf, 2012). As a result, the long-term plans of the organization are in jeopardy. For example, the implementation of the service member training that focuses on the creation of job stability and strengthening of the leadership skills of the staff may become subject to delay or even cancellation.
In turn, the lack of skilled professionals may have an impact on the well-being of the center in the future due to the mechanism of receiving grants. In particular, this procedure involves the development of a detailed plan that incorporates all the costs and timetables, as well as describes the contribution of the investor to the overall budget of the organization. After this, applications undergo a stage of consideration within the organization that provides grants, which often involves competition between different parties and non-profit entities. As a result, it becomes necessary to take into consideration the weight of justification for funding, including the adequacy requirements, the degree of preparation of the participant, the duration of the result, and so on (Wolf, 2012). In case the staff of Newark Day Center is trained poorly, the facility’s chances of receiving new grants are likely to be lower than expected, which may result in the insufficient funding of its programs and initiatives.
Thus, the analysis of the interview with the CEO of Newark Day Center allows making the conclusions on the so-called state of equilibrium of the entity. First of all, high motivation of the employees is impaired by their low organizational skills, i.e. they have a considerable energy, but lack the ability to use it efficiently, in which means the use of time is irrational. Additionally, the professionalism of the CEO mitigates the negative effects from the use of the authoritarian leadership style. Finally, the feasibility of grants as a source of funding due to their gratuitous nature counters the volatility of such method of new funds attraction. At the same time, it is important to remember that such state of equilibrium is not equal to stability. Therefore the facility may sustain considerable damage in the future provided there are no actions that focus on the improvement of the current situation.
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The organizational structure of Newark Day Center includes two departments – the Senior Center and the Child Development Center that have different locations (The Newark Day Center, n.d. b; The Newark Day Center, n.d. e). Each of them is controlled by a department head that provides direct supervision and coordination of the activities of the subordinates. In both cases, the latter include the head teacher that supervises the group teachers, as well as the program supervisor that supports the educational staff and collaborates with the head of the facility (Clark, Headley-Hall, Page & Agabiti, 2015). Additionally, activities of the two functional units are under the control of the Executive Director and, to a certain extent, the members of the Board of Trustees (The Newark Day Center, n.d. a), which makes it possible to identify the organizational structure as the one that incorporates both linear (a single governing entity in present) and functional (collaboration and cooperation within the facilities) elements.
The Board of Trustees consists of seven people, including the President, five members, and the Executive Director (The Newark Day Center, n.d. a). The center does not provide any information on the procedure of the appointment of the members of the Board of Trustees but, considering how a human services organization operating on the basis of goodwill works, it is possible to make the following assumptions on this matter. First of all, there is a high possibility that the organization has a governing document that regulates the ways of electing the trustees, including the influence of other members of the Board or even an outside entity, namely a local authority (Hanks & Zolla, 2015). The choice of trustees may depend on the opportunities they could potentially provide to the center. These are discovering ways of reaching clients, provision of technological support, enhanced fundraising activity, and so on. The governing document may also contain notes on the length of service of the trustees (in case there are limits) and the possibility of their reappointment in the future. Moreover, the trustees are likely to have a fiduciary duty before the center, which is the highest standard of the business ethics. As a result, their loyalty must be exceptional to prevent the emergence of any conflicts between them and the managerial staff of the facility. Moreover, there must be no profit for the trustees from the involvement in the activities of the organization (Hanks & Zolla, 2015). At the same time, the Executive Director of the center has an ex officio status, meaning that the person occupying it (Donna Johnson-Thompson) is not subject to appointment or election. On the contrary to other members of the Board of Trustees, such specialist works solely on the basis of the virtue of holding another office (The Newark Day Center, n.d. a).
The functional responsibilities of the members of the key management team differ depending on their position within Newark Day Center. In particular, the Executive Director oversees all the processes that take place in the facility, develops the short- and long-term plans, as well as manages the finances and training of the employees. At the same time, the materials of the interview make it possible to assume that such specialist often deals with the smaller tasks, especially under the conditions of personnel shortage of. The trustees primarily provide technological, legal, and financial support (The Newark Day Center, n.d. a), which may explain the lack of the respective positions within the organization. They also participate in the development of applications necessary to receive grants, as well as the decision-making processes. The responsibilities of the department heads are relatively similar to those of the Executive Director, albeit on the smaller scale. Additionally, they take part in the process of plans development together with their direct superiors. The head teachers coordinate the activities of teacher groups developing the plans in collaboration with program supervisors. Similarly to the department head, such professionals may also make decisions in the course of so-called brainstorming the Executive Director organizes on the regular basis. Finally, the program supervisors provide support to other specialists on the scale of a particular facility (Pynes, 2013).
Current organizational structure of the center coincides with the mission of the organization. The latter states that the primary goal of the facility is to train those in need (e.g. the poor or marginalized social groups) to ensure they are capable of self-assistance. In turn, it supports a wide range of citizens of Newark and Essex County through the provision of such services as child care, training, camping, and so on. Additionally, Newark Day Center aims at the promotion and establishment of partnership with other similar entities to make for the maximum coverage of the community (The Newark Day Center, n.d. d). Also, using the two separate functional units (i.e. the one that focuses on the children and the adult-oriented one), with each of them performing different tasks provides for a more efficient distribution of efforts (The Newark Day Center, n.d. b; The Newark Day Center, n.d. e). As a result, the teachers and the instructors are able to concentrate on a particular age group without dispersing their attention on the others, thus, providing a better level of service. Moreover, with the Executive Director and trustees being above these structures, without (in most cases) direct involvement in the activities of the latter, they have more time and, therefore, opportunities for the establishment of partnership with other similar organizations. Consequently, the structure of Newark Day Center complements its mission.
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Currently, the Center experiences several issues in funding, with the majority of them stemming from the use of grants as the primary source of income. In turn, this situation may have a number of negative effects on the services offered. First of all, the lack of financial resources may result in the cancellation of certain programs, namely the camping ones due to their seasonal nature, e.g. such events take place in summer (The Newark Day Center, n.d. c). Hence, the coverage of the center will decrease, damaging its image in the eyes of the community. On the other hand, insufficient funding may cause the decrease in salary of the personnel of the facility, presumably at the cost of the preservation of the programs. Even despite the team’s commitment to the principles of Newark Day Center, such turn of events may undermine their motivation and induce lowered quality of their work. In turn, it will be possible to expect the differences between the mission statement of Newark Day Center and reality, which is unlikely to contribute to the credibility of the organization, as well as its ability to obtain new grants (Bryson, 2011).
By taking into account the problems the facility encounters, namely the ones in the field of the organization of work, one can assume that there is a need for changes in the organizational structure. In particular, it is imperative that there is a clear distribution of work between leaders and their subordinates (Bryson, 2011). Currently, even the Executive Director performs the tasks unrelated to her scope of activity. As a consequence, the lack of seriousness may occur when it comes to work (which is obvious from the interview, namely the reporting) and, therefore, the lowered productivity. Given the high level of motivation of the workers that are willing to sacrifice much for the success of the center, the resistance to the change is likely to be insignificant. In turn, the implementation of this measure will allow Newark Day Center to improve the productivity of its work. Moreover, the lack of delays in the creation of financial reports will provide an opportunity for the abolition of the authoritarian leadership style, which will contribute to the favorable climate among the team members, an increase in motivation and, therefore, the efficiency of the facility as a whole. Thus, Newark Day Center will be able to stay true to its mission statement and remain active for another two hundred years.
The analysis of the structure of Newark Day Center, as well as the interview with its CEO, has demonstrated that it experiences several problems that threaten the well-being of the entity. These include the low attention to time management, the inconsistency in the leadership style used by the Executive Director, the lack of personnel, and financial instability. At the same time, there are several factors that prevent the worst-case scenarios (e.g. the cancellation of programs or even the bankruptcy of the facility) from occurring, namely the competence of the leaders, the high motivation, and the organizational structure that provides the conditions for carrying out the mission of the center. However, they alone are not enough to ensure its survivability in the long-term perspective, which is one of the primary strategic goals the CEO has set. Therefore, the implementation and management of changes, especially in the field of the distribution of tasks are necessary to ensure that the plans she develops remain realistic in the eyes of the employees, trustees, and financial donors.