We all need control. It gives us a choice to choose which direction to go in, or what we want to do. It helps us to feel safe in situations where we feel vulnerable. For instance controlling our own environment. If it is too noisy we can ask someone to turn it down or move into another room. At work we want an environment where we can focus and concentrate.
The wider we look in our lives the more out of control we feel. We feel we can do nothing about the budget cuts in our organisation, the way the government is spending tax money, or preventing war and bloodshed. So it seems we focus on it in our personal lives because this is where we can have most impact.
Control has a bad press as it is mostly mentioned when it has a negative impact.This is when the control goes too far. OCD and hoarding are obvious examples of control going too far. The idea of the control freak is common in describing people who we think have overstepped the mark.
The controlling personality can extend into the work role by wanting power over other people in an organisation which can move from the organised into the rigid and uncompromising. Middle managers working in mental health are a good example. The controlling manager needs an environment where it is not quite possible. What is the point if everything can be controlled? It has to be just out of reach so that the control can carry on being applied.
Nothing is more unique, unpredictable and out of control than mental health. Working in an organisation providing services to mental health users can be a good arena for control. The case for more control is usually argued under the premise making services more business like and professional. In a lot of organisations this can be well argued as the staff team can be disorganised and in fire fighting mode. It can be difficult to discern between staff and users. The chaos of the mental health of the users transfers onto the staff team and organisation.
So someone in control comes into this kind of environment and wants to take power. At the first stage the benefits are palpable. Better systems, perhaps more paid support, a renewed effort to accredit to a professional body. The second stage is where staff who carry the longevity and organisational knowledge start being monitored to assess their business like performance. The control always assesses their performance to be not good enough. Depending on the strength of the staff team and the support & loyalty they can gather from senior management and trustees a battle begins to see who can win. The old or the new. People start to go off sick, sometimes never to return. The trustees suddenly wake up to the fact that they have a war in the organisation. Then somebody external is drafted in to sort it out.
And then we are back in the cycle of who controls who!
Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2014
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Disclaimer: This weblog is the view of the writer and for general information only.
This article is designed to provoke argument and critique.