Professionals acquire their training in a certain field of expertise. When they are employed, however, or take up a professional role* in their field, they find themselves having to manage a variety of other roles for which they have not been trained. Whether they work in education, at a university, a hospital or in private practice, as psychoanalysts or psychotherapists, they discover that managerial roles are also required. This means either having to fulfil managerial tasks and functions personally, without much pertinent preparation, or cooperating with a manager who is not necessarily familiar with the requirements of the professional's role and expertise. Conflict between professional expertise, managerial tasks, and economic pressures may ensue, both within a person and between people in an organisation.
In universities, for example, the necessity to attract funding, from fee paying students and research grants increases the management pressure on academic staff. As professional educators, academics can be conflicted as to when the individual in their classroom is in the role of student or the role of ‘customer’. These different roles produce different and competing demands and responses. The customer can expect the promised knowledge, skills and competencies for which they have paid handsomely, to be delivered painlessly. The educator may expect such outcomes to be achieved from the role of student, a role that requires exposure to one’s ignorance, the discomfort of new ideas and a struggle for mastery.
At the same time, academics in research or teaching roles have little formal, managerial authority and may feel under-authorised or under-supported when trying to change teaching or research practice and be concerned that any changes might threaten funding.
Similarly, a psychoanalyst or psychotherapist engaged in training young colleagues may enjoy conveying their expertise in the development of a trainee or candidate, but assessing the candidate's competence and reporting this to the education committee can create conflict over the need to evaluate and decide versus the need to understand and develop the trainee. The therapist’s expertise in observing and thinking about emotional processes can conflict with organising and leading a membership; or managing board decisions in a training institute.
In hospitals, there are dual lines of authority, clinical and managerial - which can create difficulties for the professionals and for the management staff. Clinicians can be caught in thinking that managers' activities are inevitable intrusions on practice, to be patiently or perhaps resentfully tolerated. As in universities, management roles can be seen in active tension if not competition with clinical or academic roles. Managers have to cooperate with professionals whose expertise they often do not share and who appear to them to "live in a different world" beyond the requirements of structural and economic survival of the organisation which the manager understands he has to guarantee. Such conflicting perspectives diminish effectiveness.
Likewise, Health and Safety professionals' ensuring good practice and regulatory compliance can interfere with the financial agenda of their organisation. Internal consultants may experience conflicts between the wellbeing and organisational development of an internal client and the task and policy demands of the organisation. Last not least, voluntary and paid staff in community-based organisations can have different views of the roles and tasks they are required to undertake.
The variety and richness of these examples identifies the common tensions between academic, clinical or professional leadership roles, managerial roles and corporate cooperation. In addition the ways in which different roles are taken up is also shaped by organisational systems, the social context and by the individual’s temperament, personality, experience, purpose and their emergent personal style.
*Role is the sociological / socioanalytic term for behaviour which is related to fulfilment of a given task, but includes individual ways of interpretation of task fulfilment.