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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

New Supervisor Marches to a Different Beat

Published June 27, 2008 11:04 AM by Glen McDaniel

The following scenario was presented to me in a client hospital recently. A new supervisor was hired and immediately rubbed several long-time employees the wrong way because of what was seen as his threatening tone and brusque manner. Employees were "ordered" to perform tasks and were threatened with being written up or "dealt with" for every minor infraction. Copious memos were written in all caps reminding employees of the rules and the consequences of not towing the line.

The laboratory manager intervened after getting numerous employee complaints, and the supervisor claimed he was just "trying to raise the bar" and was not interested in coddling or babying adults. It's obvious there was a fundamental difference in interpretation of what the problem was in the situation. The manager, meeting with supervisor and staff, pointed out there was a difference in perception, different personalities and different ways of achieving the same goal. She made all involved pledge to be professional and try to get along for the good of the laboratory and the patients. She considered the matter closed.

Suggesting the employees were marching to the wrong beat, the supervisor threatened to quit rather than "lower my standards." The employees wrote a petition to Human Resources asking for termination of the supervisor or they would quit.

6 comments

If you have been reading these blogs for awhile you will notice the recurring response of readers "that

October 22, 2008 10:37 AM

Wow, Raising the bar. Hammer to the anvil. Gavel to the bench. There seems to be a match to one of my observed "not to do rules" for the newbie overseerer of laboratory people. It's that darn song, "getting to know you, know about you, like you, hope you like me". The effect is that the supervisor eases into there desired style of leadership with all do respects to the existing and established staff. Nice and simple, and yet the supervisor can still declare that they will document with compliance and courtesy.  

Rob Hetzer, Generalist - BSMT, Contractor July 11, 2008 2:06 PM
Rockport ME

The posted scenario is a reality in modern laboratories across the global scale. One could look at this from two different views: the manager and the employees.

The manager can implement his new ideas to "raise the bar" but, he must realize that people skills is a skill that's required for any management position. People skills include proper communication and respect.

The employees must be receptive to constructive criticism, innovation, education and leadership.

When professionals know and execute their roles the mission and goals of the organization are accomplished.

BRIAN (CLS) July 6, 2008 2:14 AM
TN

Not enough info here.  What kind of shape was the department in when the new supervisor arrived?  Was it a well functioning team that simply needed a leader to replace one of the fortunate few able to retire and enjoy life or was it a disfunctional mess needing cleaned up because of a previous supervisor who was even worse?  

I will assume the first and hope not the second.

Obviously the supervisor has no understanding of human nature and the desire for a leader and not a pusher.  It is obvious the supervisor is not willing to admit their bully tactics will not work with this group!  Get rid of them before any further damage is done.

Even if the department was a wreck from the precvious supervisor, most college educated adults do not want, need or require a heavy handed method of supervison.  You get from your staff what you expect and if you expect problems and act that way you will get problems.  

John July 1, 2008 10:39 AM

I wonder how this supervisor was hired in the first place? Assuming that the lab manager was involved in the hiring process, there should have been an indepth exploration of the supervisor's management style/philosophy during the job interview.  I'm sad for all of the good techs who were caught in the vortex of such incompetence.

Nancy June 30, 2008 9:35 PM
PA

Funny, that sounds like what the laboratory staff at the hospital in Thomasville, NC where I worked in my second position as a MT/CLS (late 2004-early 2005) should have done.  12 people left that lab in the 18 months this particular supervisor held the position.  The vice president over ancillary services at this hospital threatened to not only fire someone who anonymously complained about his egregious negativity and threats (if he could intimidate the person into identifying him/herself) - but also "revoke his/her certification and make sure he/she never worked in the medical field again!"

Stephanie Mathis, Generalist - Clinical Laboratory Scientist, Aureus Medical Group June 27, 2008 1:32 PM
Winston Salem NC

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