Welzijn in de 21e eeuw

Op zoek naar innovaties en innovatief organiseren in de sociale sector




Prenten van Jörg Müller van het Zwitserse dorp Güllen door de jaren heen. De kat verandert niet (klik hier voor een grotere weergave). De titel boven de prenten, shift happens, komt van Adjiedj Bakas.

De boodschap? We staan aan de vooravond van een totaal nieuwe tijd waarin de mensen slimmer en socialer zijn dan ooit tevoren. Toch zullen er individuen zijn die niet meekomen vanwege een beperking, afkomst, slijtage, een life-event of een ongeval. En niemand hebben die ze helpt. Gaan we dat oplossen met het welzijnswerk van 1970? 1990? 2011? Zit daar dan verschil tussen? Echt? Of is welzijnswerk die witte kat die altijd dezelfde blijft?

Zorg + welzijn

Welzijn 21ste eeuw leden, vorige jaar heb ik al mijn moed bij elkaar geraapt en deelgenomen aan een wereldwijde essay challenge voor jonge ondernemers en starters. Een Essay contest georganiseerd door het Peter Drucker instituut (grondlegger van management). Tot mijn grote verbazing ben ik op plek nummer 18 uit gekomen, van de ruim 230 inzendingen. Daar stond ik dan als welzijnswerker tussen de belangrijke en vooral grijze managers in Wenen in een statig pand....Dus ik dacht als ze daar mijn verhaal interessant vinden wellicht dat het ook hier iets oproept....kritiek, vragen, interesse etc...


Het is in het engels....maar wel lekker simpel! Ik ben benieuwd.....groeten, Melanie Berends-Sociaal werkster die gelooft in welzijn werkt!


Trust, care and cooperation.

An essay on management change to empower.



This essay may not be a scientific one, it may not be based on written theories, but it’s written from the heart and the guts from someone who thinks she knows better.  A professional who wants to hold on to things that work and is changing things that don’t work. I’m willing to take responsibility for the present and the future. I want to share wisdom, success and possibilities. Believing in the power of active employment and management.



In this essay I write about management using empowerment and trust in their leadership. My essay is based on my experience as a social youth worker and the advice I have given to social work institutions. I believe in leadership. A manager followed by inventive employees. Employees that are surrounded by satisfied people. Forward empowerment and trust and create participation and responsibility within anybody around. Inspire themselves, colleagues, partners and also children, youth, parents and grandparents.  

I’ll first outline the situation within social work organization as I experienced it and from interviews with fieldworkers. Then I will give an example of how to implement Peter Drucker’s strategy on management.  Ending the essay with, change management and create result out of cooperation, trust and growth.


Part I Social work, management and a new way.


The organizations.

The last years I worked with different social work organizations in the Netherlands. In every organization the cooperation and trust between management and the fieldworkers was severely lacking. The management complained about the workers: they were not efficient and concrete. The workers complained about the management: they expect miracles without giving support. “The managers make plans expecting to make it easy, but they make it more difficult.” I had the privilege to work independently and was empowered by the management of the organization I worked for. I had the chance to implement a different working strategy in the urban areas in the cities of  Arnhem, Emmen and Almere. The difference in results and positive energy was impressive. Even though social workers recognized the success of this strategy, they were not willing to implement it. Why? They told me they were afraid of the reaction of the management (an unsolicited proposal) and because they were afraid it would not work on the long run.  From my professional instinct as a social worker I think this is crazy. A manager and a worker should be working out of a positive interest in each other and in their working environment.  Feeling the freedom to share and the willingness to change.


The position of the management in social work

At this point social work is operating in a stress situation. National and local governments announced big cost cutting in 2011. In the meanwhile they expect more results and success from the professionals.  Managers are selling their business. Confront the local governments by showing their crucial role in the working fields. Unfortunately in the eyes and ears of the workers this is not in their benefit.  They have to work harder, achieve more results but they feel they have nothing to gain. What makes the professionals so negative and frustrated? The manager is working to assure funding, so they can keep their jobs. But the management and the professionals are worlds apart. The actual work makes the management not smarter it makes them ignorant. The comments made in the interviews illustrate this problem. “The management never asks what we think, what we want and what we need”.  “We have to follow but not be involved? Why? The manager never checks facts anyway, the manager just reads reports.” “Nothing needs to be real.”


Change should start at the basis

The starting point in social work is the community. Management and workers should be working from the community. The goals, needs, targets and achievements are based in the community. As the managers are ignorant for the work of the workers, the workers are often ignorant of the needs of the community. Of course in both cases there are exceptions. But ignorance should be the exception, not involvement (snap ik niet).


A new way of working

I am working for a project called Can do! since 2007. The focus of this project is to empower communities to create their own projects in their neighborhoods. The difference with traditional social work is that it’s not the professional who organizes, but the person who wants the activity. Young or old, if you want it, you do it.  The social worker is like a manager. A manager who gives the initiator the trust and the possibility to create their own results and learn from it.  Be the supporter and the facilitator. I believe this should be the change management should also make in their organizations. Give trust and possibilities to the workers, because they know what they need to achieve results, they know what’s realistic, they know the community.  

In my work, I am free. I know what’s expected of me. I know what I should achieve. My manager is giving me this freedom. The freedom to work when I want and the way I want. Yes it takes courage to do that. Give and receive responsibility. But as we receive it from our managers, we follow their example and forward it to the people we work with in the community.  

The community and especially the youth is a group I feel responsible for. I want to continue by giving an example how empowerment tools work on youth. How I believe management can make a difference in the present and the future.


Part II Youth as an example of giving trust, care and cooperation.

What we should create between professionals is what professionals should create with youth.


I trust in the future because I trust the youth!

In a World of money, education, power, work, choices, depression, crisis, status, gadgets and ego, young people can get lost. You can lose yourself in a world of even more money, more necessary education, more lust of power, more choices to make, more hours to work, more depressions to overcome, more confrontations with crisis, more status to achieve and more gadgets to have and an ego that is out of control.

The youth, the future, the ones who will rule this world of more and more, are the key to a healthy and sustainable community and economy. They are the generation who is going to be in charge of continuity and change. For this cause we, the parents, the educators, the managers, the employers, the social workers, the people, have to be the world’s best managers to increase the leadership of the youth of today and tomorrow.


Implementing Peter Drucker management strategy on youth.

Worldwide the youth is the marketing target of many brands. Producers of clothes, mobile phones, shoes but also governments, libraries and universities, everybody wants the attention of the youth.  All kinds of strategies are explored to get their interest. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. If it works, I shake hands with Peter Drucker; keep on doing what you are doing. If it doesn’t work, I suggest change your strategy.


Change strategy in the youth work community context.

The Youth is a big part of the community. They are visible on the streets, neighborhoods and in city centers. Often their presence is negative for others. Intimidations, street fights, bullying and at the negative end of the spectrum, street gangs are not Hollywood movies any more. Everywhere in Europe and beyond, young people are implementing their skills. A relevant question is; are they using it in a positive way to increase a healthy and sustainable community and economy? What’s their motivation to implement their skills? Interviews with youth workers lead to the conclusion that their motivation is STATUS. The Youth is either rebelling towards parents or missing out on parents. In both cases there’s a lack of a successful leader in their life.  They miss out on a manager. Youth workers should be this manager, giving them opportunities, trust and responsibility.  And I promise the world, the youth will come home with positive results. Results that are overwhelming. Maybe not for all but at least for one. (Hiermee zwak je je argument erg af) The Youth should get the chance to have a taste of success, should get in a flow from day one, a flow of life.  Start doing things right. In my work as a youth coach I have seen what can be created by the youth if they have control. If they are in charge. For ones, they are in control of the situation and the success. I can recall an endless list of insights they had.  Insights I know they will take with them as young adults and later on, as working professionals. And yes I am talking about young people that quit going to school, started using all kinds of drugs and having no faith in the future.


Which parts of Peter Drucker's management strategy could be applied?

1.   Needs

It all starts with needs. One of Peter Drucker’s rules states that it’s not the profit that counts, but the art to supply in the needs.  Youth is in need but so are we. Governments are in need, educational systems are in need, parents are in need, youth workers and youth care are in need. All are in need of a product that works. I am talking about the youth that is quitting school, is aggressive, lost, passive or angry. Young people that are not using their FULL potential.  This is the market we finally should take responsibility for. Be the manager to these kids and take the risk to inspire them to be inspiring.

These days a young person needs someone to trust, someone to look up to. We are this person. We are the managers of the future. We can embrace the youth by giving them the trust to succeed.

2.   Responsibility

The more you think this person cannot deal with responsibility, the more the person should receive it.  The Youth should be entrusted in their ability to be responsible. They are our future so start letting them be part of reality. Are WE afraid to let go of this responsibility and take a risk? But what’s a risk anyway? For youth it is the difference between the need to get into action to create what they want or to stay passive. We all want young people to learn how to deal with responsibility but as Peter Drucker said: “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” In this I call out for our responsibility to teach the youth how to learn to deal with responsibility. And I think learning goes by experiencing it.

3.   Results

Leadership is only recognized after results are successfully created. Young people are searching for status. Underneath the quest is to gain respect, recognition and perhaps most of all love. So I make a plea to empower them to create results. Results in a personal, educational and community context. I’ll give you an example based on results. In one of the big cities in the Netherlands a housing corporation organized a big party for the youth. They did not hold back on spending money. Total costs (excluding man-hours of about 5 people) were about € 7.500. Only twelve youngsters showed up. Three of them screamed: “I can do better with less money.”  The youngsters got the chance to prove it. About 1.5 month later they organized a party for the youth of the city. Total costs € 1.400. The turnout was about 180. I don’t have to explain what this does to the affectivity and efficiency.  Unfortunately, nobody asked how they did it, but I did. Their answer was: “just listen to what they need, and provide, nothing more and nothing less and it’s a success!” This wisdom is not a once in a lifetime experience with young people, it’s repeating itself over and over again. I believe in starting today in letting the youth practice with their ability to create, so we can benefit from it later.


Part III Successful management of employees and in the working fields.


What to do to increase active participation?

Start creating managers that want powerful, creative and active employees. Managers that are willing to be the person that makes the difference. Then employees can make the difference for the community. The following aspects need to be a part of this new management. Trust in the qualities and professionalism of your employees. Care for employees, community and the organization. Use the basic definition of cooperation: working together towards a common goal.

If management and employees meet on an equal basis, cooperation starts. Managers working together with the employees, instead of deciding for them. Then the employee will be willing and able to follow.


What to do to increase active participation of employees?

Create situation to empower them to become leaders for the present and the future.

Get involved in social and educational area’s with the wisdom of management. Make it a tool for life, not only a tool owned by managers. Peter Drucker: “No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.” So get the average in a position to create.


Stop talking about the change you want to make, start being the change you can be!

I thank all of the readers of this essay.

With warm regards Melanie Berends – Vermaak



Drachten, The Netherlands, social youth worker, 27 years old.



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