Leadership Planning at Spectrum

We often get feedback on the excellent quality of our leadership team.  Spectrum’s coordinators and program managers take the mission, mandate and vision of our organization and translate it into action, every day, with teams of people all over the lower mainland who are supporting individuals and families with very diverse needs.  The highly individualized nature of our services means that front line staff are often working on their own.  Strong leadership not only ensures the best possible services to those we support, it also ensures that our staff get the support they need and that they stay connected to their colleagues, team members and Spectrum as a whole.

Our current strategic plan (2010-13) focuses on building and empowering personal networks that support the leadership of individuals and those closest to them – family, friends, significant others.  How do our traditional notions of leadership align with this vision, and how might we need to shift our thinking about the role of those in leadership positions, if the point is to support people to be leading their own lives?  How many leaders do we need?  These are some of the questions we’ve been exploring.

In April 2013, the number of people served by Spectrum dropped by about 20% with the loss of Acquired Brain Injury contracts from the Fraser Health region due to the re-tendering of those services to one regional provider.  The number of people served by Spectrum is currently about the same as it was in 2007, but the number of people in leadership positions at Spectrum has increased by about 40%.  This increase reflected a trend in recent years toward managers supporting fewer people and working more line shifts, and has resulted in administrative costs exceeding the available funding.  We need to clarify our vision for these manager positions, something we’ll be exploring further with individuals, families, staff and other stakeholders over the next year as we develop Spectrum’s strategic plan for 2014-17.  One thing is clear: the current structure is not sustainable.

In May, we began a review of Spectrum’s leadership, to assess what’s working well and where the gaps are currently.  We met with all of the managers and coordinators to begin this discussion and to introduce some proposed changes to how we define leadership positions and allocate hours and wages to these positions.  These changes were reviewed by the policy committee, circulated for all staff to give feedback on, and have now been approved by Spectrum’s Board.  Some of the key changes are:

1.         Managers working line shifts – historically, managers worked about 50% of their time on administrative duties and 50% providing direct support to individuals.  That ratio has become widely varied across positions, with some managers now working 100% admin and others working 10% admin and 90% direct support, but all being paid the same rate.  The revised policy provides a guideline for manager positions going forward, including limiting the number of direct support hours that will be paid at the manager rate.

2.         As we revisited the concept of a “Key Worker” we realized that currently the majority of persons served do not have key workers, and so our practice is different from the stated policy that everyone has a key worker.  While existing key workers will continue in their current roles, in any upcoming transitions for staff, teams or the individual, the need for them to have a key worker will be reviewed.

Our goal with these changes is to ensure more equitable workloads and pay across similar positions, and to make sure we’re utilizing the capacity of Spectrum’s leaders to support both the needs of those we serve and the needs of the organization for effective and efficient leadership, while recognizing the work of great teams who are often carrying out the choices of the person they are supporting, with the kind of accountability that we all strive for.  Thanks!

For more information on these policy revisions, and to view the complete list of Spectrum policies, click here.

Photo of Aaron, Susan and Ernie - Spectrum's Co-Directors

Aaron, Susan and Ernie