Regardless of whether the laboratory is staffed by baby boomers, generation X’ers, or millennials, employees are motivated by a work environment that honors their contributions. Encouraging technical staff to be part of the quality of the laboratory through quality initiatives, process streamlining, key operator responsibilities or new test evaluation results in a more satisfied employee and supportive technical department. Laboratory assistants can also participate in the improvements in department process. These non-technical employees can often be the experts in inventory management, reduction of waste and workspace evaluation. With this empowering philosophy however comes an obligation. Managers must make every effort to evaluate, support and implement at lease part of these employee offered contributions whenever possible.
The successful continuity of any laboratory is based upon a delegating responsibilities to staff that allow for double back up of tasks. Information hoarding or power hoarding is the most detrimental of tendencies that laboratorians exhibit. The practice comes out of an honorable desire for perfection but often results in being a detriment to the department. Developing laboratory staff to know instrument or task intricacies does not jeopardize one’s power, it enhances the power of the whole department to work as a better team and provide excellent patient care. This results in more quality buy-in and commitment to continuous quality improvement.
Staff enhancement through education can take many forms. Many organizations have tuition reimbursement plans to offer support to staff who seek additional understanding and training of laboratory topics. Other ways to make education available to staff are pathologist inservices or hematology smear/case reviews. If a laboratory participates in a MT or MLT internship program, ask the educational facility if staff can audit courses to improve their knowledge of laboratory process. Vendor sponsored web conferences or free periodicals are also available for no cost to offer education opportunities.
As we progress into the technology of the new millennium, it has been noted that some of our younger coworkers struggle with the interpersonal skills necessary to build good teamwork skills. Texting and email has taken the place of conversations and implied intents and misunderstandings abound. Many managers are being asked to monitor and facilitate worker discussions for the benefit of the department. It is wise if asked to help facilitate these discussions, that it be done in a manner that does not have the manager assume responsibility for the workers relationship. The manager can facilitate discussions so that things are not swept under the carpet but allowed to be resolved out in the open.