Add new comment

Parttime manager

Jochem. Photo: Johannes Odé

During rides with Regiotaxi and Valys I usually have a chat with the driver. All kinds of topics are covered, from the driver's dogs to COVID, from my disability to politics. Often I am asked if I have a job. “Sure,” I answer. “I am the manager of a dynamic team.”

That answer surprises taxi drivers every time again. For starters, they are surprised I have a job at all. It is not without reason that the question is asked carefully, in a way that gives all the space to be able to say “no”. Then they are surprised to learn that I am in charge. Of a dynamic team even!

“A disability or chronic illness comes with a mountain of bureaucracy, which would immediately change the mind of the average starting self-employed person.”

But all people with a disability are managers. Because a disability or chronic illness comes with a mountain of bureaucracy, which would immediately change the mind of the average starting self-employed person. Because of all the authorities and regulations involved, it is all together a solid part-time job. And the bigger the disability, the more authorities, the more bureaucracy.

Because as soon as you have a disability, you need treatment, aids and/or support. For this we have contact with doctors or other health care providers for treatment, with municipal employees for some aids and/or support, with your health care insurance for other aids and/or nursing, or with the health care office if the Long-term Care Act (Wlz) applies to you. At the very least, applications, examinations, treatment plans and indications are required for this. Thus, before you realise it, you're at the head of a whole team of people dealing with your life.

“In one fell swoop, the virtual team you lead is twice as large.”

If you opt for a personal budget (PGB), the bureaucracy doubles. Because it is based on mistrust, so everything has to be double checked. In addition, you will then have to deal with new employees from additional services, such as the CIZ that arranges the indications and the SVB that has your PGB “in safekeeping” for you. Of course you also direct the supplier(s) of the medical aid or the health care provider(s) of your choice. In one fell swoop, the virtual team you lead is twice as large.

You also have to deal with the CAK, because of the statutory personal contribution that applies to a lot of health care and some of the medical aids. In itself you will not be bothered by the CAK, until the moment they have to do something for you. Then the CAK turns out to be a very idiosyncratic team member who can hardly be coordinated as a manager.

“As a manager, you quickly run behind the facts, instead of running ahead of the members in your multidisciplinary team.”

Transparency and communication are essential in this kind of virtual teams, but employees of these organisations find especially that very difficult. As a manager, you quickly run behind the facts, instead of running ahead of the members in your multidisciplinary team. That makes it a frustrating task to get the right information to the right desk at the right time or to keep a finger on the pulse.

Because people with disabilities live on benefits more often than people without disabilities, we also have to deal with employees of UWV or Social Services. And because of the accumulation of health care costs, people with disabilities more often than people without disabilities live around the poverty line. As a result, we are eligible for various allowances, such as rent allowance and health care allowance (via the Tax and Customs Administration) and other "income supporting regulations" (via the municipality). That also means extra conversations, extra examinations, extra administration and extra checks. And not to forget: extra team members to manage.

“It is not at all strange that a virtual team with so many participants from different organisations cannot do without a manager.”

This bureaucratic hydrocephalus runs, of course, over several discs. So we have to manage that, otherwise the risk is high that things go wrong, get lost or delay endlessly. It is not at all strange that a virtual team with so many participants from different organisations cannot do without a manager. The absurd issue is that no one came to the idea that a manager is needed here! So we are forced to be the manager of this virtual team ourselves.

Applying for new aids, health care or support often takes a lot of time and energy. After all, you have to convince every service of the necessity again. Once everything has been cranked up and is running, this hydrocephalus is largely self-supporting and the bureaucratic train will continue to go on. Until the indication expires or something needs to be changed, because then the whole bureaucratic circus starts all over again. Just like when you have to deal with a new contact person – which happens regularly, given the high turnover within many of the services involved. Building connections with your team members is therefore hardly possible.

“It's very frustrating that your team members refuse to listen to their own manager.”

What many of us fear is the moment that one of the services within your team makes a mistake. That takes by far the most time! Because then we have to prove that they made a mistake. (After all, all is based on distrust.) That is not easy, since all protocols state in large letters that This Service Never Makes Mistakes. Of course the error has to be corrected as well, which again requires all kinds of evidence. For example, a silly bureaucratic carelessness can cost us days or even weeks of extra work… It's very frustrating that your team members refuse to listen to their own manager. I would like to send them to a course 'how to listen'!

In short, when politicians once again say that people have to give something in return for their benefits, I always have to laugh. I cordially invite the relevant politicians to my home, so I can tell them all about my part-time job as a manager. And they should be grateful. Because my benefit is not even close to a market rate for managers of dynamic teams!

This column was published on WijRollen.nl on the 25th of April 2022.