Research Proves Being an OR Director is Exhausting

We've always known running an OR is one of the toughest jobs around, but now its been proven and explained by several management studies. Harvard Business Review reported on the challenges of being caught between taking direction from the C-suite while also providing direction to your team, which it called "vertical role switching."

Note: We don't like the label "middle manager" especially not when describing OR directors, but it is what they chose to use in the article.

This position of being on opposite ends of the leadership spectrum, both leader and follower, is stressful because it requires people to switch their role at a moment's notice. People in this position, including OR directors, face the highest levels of stress in an organization's leadership hierarchy.

There are steps to take to mitigate the stress. The authors of the article provided recommendations for how organizations, such as hospitals, could change to take pressure off those in this position:

  • Reduce the amount of upward and downward interactions. Don't require attendance at every meeting or leadership on every project on a regular basis.
  • Find out how employees and supervisors communicate with each other at work. Do they talk most of the time, or use e-mail, etc. Find out how this plays into their roles of power.
  • During onboarding and future training, always explain the position in the organization and explain how they are essential to the success of the hospital.
  • Don't allow micromanagement from higher-ups - give people direction and discretion in leadership roles.
  • Make some positions equal to each other. This eliminates the vertical role-switching between those positions.
  • Develop role transition scripts and train people in ways to comfortably switch from a subordinate to a leader.

If all of this sounds far too familiar, use this role-switching concept, the article and these suggestions as a starting point to discuss the issue with your higher-ups. Let us know how it goes.