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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

Mission and Vision Should be More Than "Just Words"

Published March 20, 2008 10:09 AM by Glen McDaniel
Ever notice when you join an organization how much they push their mission and vision? Many companies even have these statements on employee badges, plaques and the like. Yet for every one employee who buys into the words, there are a hundred who roll their eyes and point out the dissonance between the words on paper and the real organizational culture.

The problem is that many organizations view a mission and vision as something to be written down and trotted out when convenient, not a vibrant honest pledge that has to be lived daily. Organizations must work to change their culture so that employees feel actions match the "words on the wall." Engaged employees are those who feel proud, empowered, excited and a part of the organization.

There is a story about President Johnson visiting NASA and stopping to say hello to a janitor mopping the halls. The janitor introduced himself and proudly said "Mr. President, I helped to put a man on the moon."

That employee was engaged!

Lab managers often feel that as middle managers they can do little to affect employee morale. They even sometimes hate the mantle of being seen as representative of management. They do, however, have the ability and obligation to create employee engagement. They can do this by listening, walking in the shoes of their employees, encouraging employees to feel empowered to create solutions. Most importantly they can model  and reward desired behavior.



What I like most about advance blogging is that it provides the avenue for medical professionals to express their comments, concerns, questions and opinions.  Whenever I take time out of my busy schedule to read what has been posted I find that others share the same comments, concerns, questions and opinions as myself. I strongly agree that mission and vision should be more than words.  As a traveling tech I've had the opportunity to work in various medical facilities.  Upon arrival I spend almost a whole week reading policy and procedure manuals in addition to orientation.  The sad part about this is that alot of times these documents are outdated.  Yet the general vision and mission statements state that our facility is to provide up-to-date quality patient care ensure our patients are satisfied and that our employees are competent in all areas of skill. This post is in season.  Most of the mission and vision statements in this industry are just something documented, printed or posted. They're just words. A vision wtih no legs is like a car with no battery.  A mission without a true motive is an injustice to its own organization.  As a whole we've become so concern about making a profit and earning a increase in pay that we've forgotten about the morals that accompanies the position.    

Brian, M.T. (NCA) Generalist April 14, 2008 12:36 AM

At the blood bank of a level I trauma center in Winston Salem, NC, my first MT position after graduating from this hospital's program, one nurse was stunned by my asking her how she was doing when she came up to my window of the "Front Desk" to pick up blood!  She commented to me that no one else who worked in that department had ever taken the time to ask her that question throughout the three years she had been an "internal customer" of the Blood Bank - and told me that she planned to put a good word in with my supervisor.

However, exactly three months after I started this position, I left majorly because of being more "customer service-" oriented than speed/efficiency-oriented, especially at the Front Desk, in which technologists are expected to simultaneously issue blood products (platelets and plasma are at the opposite end of the lab from the Front Desk, by the way), answer the phone, accession specimens, search both paper and computerized files for patients' prior transfusion records, and deal with LIS merges for patients who are later discovered to have previous medical record numbers.

Can anyone possibly tell me what may be EXTREMELY wrong with this picture?!  I hope and pray that the situation has improved for the blood bank technologists at this medical center and all of their customers, internal and external, during the previous four years.

Stephanie Mathis,MT(ASCP), Generalist - Medical Technologist, Medical Staffing Network April 7, 2008 9:55 PM
Danville VA

Carlton: you are dead on about having to drag some people kicking and screaming; but it's OK to do that for the greater good of the organization.

I advise organizations to figuratively take their mission and vision statements off the wall and make them visible, breathing living parts of their culture. It is OK  to say "sorry this behavior is not welcome here" or conversely "what you just did is a great example of our mission and vision". It is important to make a policy of rewarding desired behavior and NOT rewarding (or ignoring) bad behavior.

Many organizations select an employee of the month who embodies the desired organizational culture. In explaining why that employee was selected, management should make it clear to all how that employee exemplified what the organization stands for. Simple as that sounds, it is powerful to consistently tie desired behaviors back to the mission and vision.

One organization I did some work with  developed core competencies on the annual evaluation related to M/V. Example: "Employee consistently demonstrates behaviors consistent with the Service Excellence initiatives of Hospital ABC". That is sometimes more subjective to measure, but it can be done. That way, every employee knows that they are being judged on their support of the mission/vision in addition to all the other things like attendance and the like.

Glen McDaniel April 3, 2008 11:31 AM

You are absolutely correct. Those statements must be more than words. Here at the Mich. Dept. of Comm. Health, Bureau of Laboratories we are trying to do just that, but it is so difficult to change the culture of such a large organization. Part of the problem is that some of the managers are not buying in and as a result they are passively and actively creating an environment to keep other staff from participating. Those who have bought in are determined to change the organization for the better, even if we have to drag the others kicking and screaming.

carlton evans, serology - senior microbiologist, MDCH BOL March 26, 2008 9:39 AM
lansing MI

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