Accountability Without Support: A Recipe for Disaster

When was the last time you evaluated your managers’ and supervisors’ workload? If you are a manager or supervisor, when was the last time you evaluated your workload? Does the level of accountability match the support? Healthcare managers are facing unprecedented times. The past few years have turned healthcare – and healthcare management – upside down. Staff have been pushed to their limits and then some. Burnout is running rampant in facilities. This is partly because, managers are facing unprecedented staffing shortages, adding to an already stressful job.

The Current Landscape

Healthcare managers are between a rock and a hard place right now. Regulations and policies have remained largely the same, but other challenges have grown significantly. 

These challenges are not likely to end soon. According to a recent study, almost half of RNs are now over 50, and nearly half (44 percent) of physicians in 2019 were 55 or older. Burnout is at an all-time high with the constant strain of being understaffed and overwhelmed with very sick patients. Many managers are forced to take a patient load themselves, leaving little time to complete management duties. Senior leaders requiring managers to take a patient load should also be prepared to offload some administrative duties. 

Balancing Accountability with Support

I was recently coaching a newly-minted director who was filling the roles of the previous coordinator, manager, and now director. Despite the challenges he is facing, he is hopeful and takes comfort in seeing small changes. 

Leading understaffed departments and teams of frustrated and exhausted staff makes it even harder to maintain standards of excellence. One manager told me that she is in the process of doing annual performance appraisals. She asks staff to prepare SMART goals for the year as part of the appraisal discussion. In one situation, a staff nurse told her that her SMART goal is to survive and not quit. I don’t think that nurse is alone. Her SMART goal may just have to be good enough for now. 

Managers are carrying the brunt of responsibility for being accountable for staffing, quality, and financial performance. Accountability without legitimate support from the C-Suite is a recipe for disaster. Senior leaders must have a candid discussion about how to support the manager who is, in turn, supporting the front line. 

Regardless of staffing, I always urge leaders to be visible on the floors. Not only can leadership presence boost morale by making staff feel seen and heard, but it can be easier for leaders to see first-hand what’s happening in their own organizations. Rounding is a great way to recognize staff who are doing great work, and observe what’s happening in the day-to-day work of the frontline staff.  

To develop a personalized plan to re-engage staff, and provide much-needed managerial support, contact us today at (866) 686-7672 or


Tags: , , , ,

Subscribe to our Articles and stay up to date on leadership practices, employee engagement, retention, and service excellence.

Submit your information below to start receiving our Baird Group articles.