The Division of Labor or Integrated Teams: A Crux in the Management of Technical Communication
by MJ Killingsworth, BG Jones
There will always be theorist available to hypothesize the many ways that make things better or worse for us. The managing of communication in organizations has been labeled as managerial. In reality, some businesses can not function as well in an environment that is strictly managerial or too regulatory. This causes mistakes in the workplace from being rushed by the bosses and not having adequate time to get the job done properly. According to historical perspectives such as Max Weber, it would be more productive to use the linear process as compared to the recursive process. You can watch this quick 2 minute video to get a better idea of Max Weber.
Iron cage is a sociology term coined by Weber, relating to his views on bureaucracy and rationalization.
Women from the 1940’s at work
In his opinion , there were specific principles to be used when analyzing a work pattern. One theory, as stated by Weber, elaborated on his opinion about the organizational process of workers. He stated “The decisive reason for the advance of bureaucratic organization has always been its purely technical superiority over any other form of organization” (p 973). What his theorist ideas say to me is that; he believed managers should be strict on their subordinates and compared workers to machines. When people are preparing for work they do not expect to be treated as an assembly line worker unless they work at a factory of course. The following picture shows an example of the linear process and links to women from the 1940’s .
Many of these ideas have spilled into the healthcare industry, I can attest to this from my experience as a licensed practical nurse. I have come to learn that the quality of patient care is dwindling away. There are too many incidents that reflect this fact; especially when relating it to the administration of medication. This happens everyday in all healthcare settings around the country. The most neglected individuals are patients living in nursing homes. This is where the LPN makes the most money, usually because miracles are expected of them. Miracles such as passing loads of medications to umpteen patients and doing so in a short period; there is not enough time in the day for complete proper documentation.
How would you feel if you knew your loved one was not receiving proper treatment all because of their care taker being rushed?! Where the problem lies is in communication and documentation is the key. State laws require each institute to provide their workers with a certain time limit allowed during med pass. Many times the documentation is sloppy, too short-handed, and incomplete. After reading this article: “The Division of Labor or Integrated Teams” (by Killingsworth and Jones) pp 321-339, I was able to understand the historical perspectives that discussed how the “scientific management” process is introduced early on. Frederick Taylor was a famous theorist who promoted this labor of quantity instead of quality, also called “Taylorism“. Below is a short, but good informative clip of his ideology:
According to the text, Frederick Taylor applied the scientific method to study the optimal way to do any type of workplace task. Taylor stated the following: “Work should be selected scientifically through rigorous testing, effectiveness should be objectively measured, managers are planers, and workers are doers” (by Killingsworth and Jones) p 322. He found that by calculating the time needed for the various elements of a task, he could develop the best way to complete that task. This caused people in management positions to mandate more of an organized process where workers had their tasks assigned to them individually.
This “scientific management” method was used in a way that made workers complete their work in a more timely manner. Taylor felt as though uneducated people would not know any better, and he proceeded to use a scientific method while watching the workers and making sure there wasn’t any waste of time. For example, when people are working on a job, they do things such as singing to allow time to pass by quicker, making a more enjoyable environment. Unlike the theorist beliefs, work is actually more productive when using techniques that promote a happier environment. Here is a video showing workers at Google and how they promote a happy environment:
Along with Weber, Taylor’s theory has also spilled into the healthcare industry, causing an atmosphere of being understaffed. Well, when you rush or force a nurse to pass medications within a certain time mistakes can be made, even purposely. For ex: eye drops have to be given in increments over a 45 minute period, but during that time the nurse has already moved on to the next patient and is likely to forget to return, or even rush and instill all three drops at once! The medication is not effective when not given properly. So, your grandma who has glaucoma just missed her eye drops, and risks falling because her vision is now even more impaired. This is not “efficient”, but rather damaging for the patient who may be you one day. Here is a list of reasons nurses make mistakes from being rushed!
These problems of rushing clearly relates to the mis-documentation of patients’ charts. A nurse who in not paying full attention just may miss a simple documentation such as an allergy. I agree it is important to have a time line to abide by, because when taking medications you usually only have a two hour time frame within the prescription time. The biggest problem is being understaffed. CNA’s usually know their patients better than the doctor’s because of the time they spend with them. Most healthcare settings hire more CNA’s then LPN.’s because they save money. The local hospital in my city does not hire LPN’s because they know they can have the RN’s pass the medications, which works the CNA’s even harder. Because as every nurse knows, RN’s do not like getting their hands dirty for the most part.
This particular issue of education is not only seen in the healthcare field; because professional writers such as engineers, also experience issues when planning documentation. After surveys were administered to a variety of companies, by Killingswoth and Jones, they found that “The occasional defensiveness about qualifications demonstrates a perceived need for credentials, even if that need is self-imposed” p 333.
The more education, the higher the pay, the more easy laid back job you will have in the nursing world. Just as Taylorism demonstrated when hired as a steel consultant by Henry Ford; where he recommended that there be no wasting of time, the workers on the assembly line must do what their told. Nurses, such as LPN.’s at nursing homes, have no time to waste. There are five rights one must follow when passing meds, including documentation. If a nurse is assigned 45 patients, and given two hours or less to pass all of the meds, this is actually a mission impossible. Nurses complain all the time about being understaffed, and by the time new staff is hired, nurses have quit from being over worked. Taylorism’s “scientific management” method may be useful when engineers are writing a manual; but it is definitely not that useful in the healthcare setting.
Therefore, when discussing topics related to work ethic; the facts of time management and teamwork are important to discuss. Although, previous theorist have described the scientific management method to be the most productive; this does not mean it’s always going to be the best choice. People can relate to their duties at work better if they have an understanding with each other, and collaborate ideas to make a better and more beneficial work environment. Since I am a nurse, I am able to see the time management skills according to a healthcare setting. The author, Killingsworth described the reasons it is so important for people to realize how a teamwork can be beneficial for a company. Practicing these skills will decline patient errors and make a more happy and healthy environment.