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Moving up is not the only way: dissatisfied employees can benefit from lateral or downward career changes, from moving out - or sometimes from staying put.

The typical clinical laboratory has limited career opportunities, and many technologists will probably not progress beyond bench work. Because of the lack of advancement opportunity, the potential for demotivation and burnout is high.

The great American work values, "get ahead" and get rich, " drive us mercilessly. How far ahead? How rich? Who determines the standards for these values? For most people, somebody else is calling the signals. Accordingly, most people feel the only acceptable movement in a career is vertical-up.

When an employee realizes that his or her aspirations will not be attained, a sense of frustration and disappointment sets in, However, there are options if vertical movement is blocked: horizontal moves, downward moves, staying put, and moving out. Let's consider each of these. 9 Horizontal moves. When a change in function or title is lateral, the employee does not necessarily undergo a change in status or salary. Job rotation programs, as an example, are common in industry. They are designed to prevent overspecialization and to encourage understanding of the unique demands faced by each function within the organization.

The benefit of a horizontal move to the employee is a healthful break in routine. The change in responsibility gives him or her an opportunity to work with different people and to take up new and challenging activities. In many ways, horizontal moves provide a fresh start.

it is possible to be offered a horizontal move and stay in one's present ob. In this case, the employee is usually given a change in title, status, and salary along with expanded duties.

For example, the laboratory might create several job grades. Each advancement in grade would be accompanied by certain perequisites greater independence, challenge, responsibility, and, to some extent, authority.

Consider the case of Eleanor, whose long career has been marked by a lack of progression. " I'm stuck on the bench, " she recently complained. "I'm not going anywhere! "

The laboratory manager and Eleanor's supervisor decided to upgrade her job. They appointed her senior technologist and asked her to start learning more about other departments so she could help orient and develop new employees. Although she remained in her present ob, she was rewarded for additional responsibilities with a salary increase and a change in status. * Downward moves. Employees who look to outside interests for self-fulfillment might welcome the opportunity to move downward as a way to free themselves from a time-consuming position. Others may find downward movement desirable for health reasons or to relieve job-related tension and stress.

Most employees, though, will probably have difficulty making this type of move because of the associated stigma of failure. Whoever counsels them can make the transition easier by pointing out its positive aspects. For example: Dolores, an outstanding technologist, was appointed section supervisor. After she had been in her new job for several months, she realized she was just not cut out to be a supervisor.

The laboratory manager knew that Dolores was unhappy in her job and that the solution might be to move her back to her former position, in which she had performed successfully. When he discussed this with her, however, she expressed concern that she was failing," and she was embarrassed about moving back.

The lab manager convinced her it didn't make sense to struggle along in a job to which she was unsuited. He said her colleagues would respect her for recognizing that she had made a mistake and taking action to correct it.

Dolores made the transition successfully. In fact, because she was prepared to accept some negative reaction from colleagues, she was pleasantly surprised when they were much less critical than she had anticipated. * Staying put. Everybody should periodically take inventory of his or her job. The purpose of this procedure is to make sure you have plentiful sources of satisfaction in your dally work life. Take a writing pad and some sharp pencils and sit down in a quiet place where you won't be interrupted. Tear off the first sheet of paper, fold it lengthwise, and at the top, label it "Kicks List." In the left hand column, list things you do daily that are a source of enjoyment. In the right-hand column, describe why each activity makes you feel good. A typical Kicks List might express these feelings:

People contact. I enjoy making friends. I like to belong to a group. I feel important when I'm helping others. It's nice to have friends to help me when I'm having problems.

Creative work. I like to use my imagination. It's exciting to come up with a new twist to an old way of doing something.

Independence. I like to feel that my boss trusts me and has confidence in me. I want to be able to identify accomplishments for which I am solely responsible.

Challenge. I like change and variety in my job. I like to learn new things and to apply new knowledge.

Take a second sheet of paper, fold it lengthwise, and at the top, label it "Bug List." On the left side, list all the things in your dally work life that annoy and worry you. On the right side, explain why. A completed list could include these statements:

Menial work. The prospect of doing the same thing, day in and day out, really bugs me. I feel I'm wasting my talents. I'm capable of doing more important things.

Close supervision. When my boss watches me too closely, I feel insecure. Because I don't want to make a mistake, I try to second-guess her and do what I think she wants. That makes me feel guilty because I'm not my own person.

Power and authority. I don't like to feel like a mindless robot. It bugs me when my boss gives me an order and doesn't explain why I should carry it out.

Let your employees try this simple system. Once they get into the swing of it, you will be surprised at how much they can control their workday. Instead of griping about how bad things are, they can (with your cooperation) take positive action to make things better.

A ob can be improved by:

* Increasing the number and variety of skills and talents needed to perform the work.

* Understanding the impact of the job on the lives and work of other people in the laboratory.

*Increasing responsibility, independence, and discretion in determining one's own work procedures.

Establishing opportunities for feedback from the ob itself as well as from coworkers and supervisors.

The supervisor's main task is to help employees recognize that they can modify their own jobs or their concepts of them sufficiently to meet some of their needs better. Beyond simply making jobs more bearable for those who are unhappy, a supervisor can convert the drive to escape and start again somewhere else into a determination to stay and turn the situation around. * Moving out. While supervisor employee career discussions should aim at keeping the employee satisfied and challenged, it is naive to assume this will always be possible. After serious introspection, some individuals may opt to move out.

When things are not going well on the job, it's natural to think of quitting. In fact, most people make four to seven job changes in their careers. Employees hurt themselves, however, when they make job changes impetuously, chase fantasies, or run away from unpleasant situations.

You as a supervisor can insure that an employee does not make a decision to leave too hastily. This can be done by getting the employee to compare his or her present job with a prospective one and to change only if convinced, after making the comparison, that the opportunity is genuinely better-in which case a departure would be better for the individual and the laboratory.

Whichever option an employee chooses-horizontal or downward movement, staying put, or moving out-you can help by periodically scheduling career discussions. During these discussions, the employee should be encouraged to explore answers to the following key questions frankly:

1. What new experiences and/or added responsibilities would you like from your job'? Would you like to be given special assignments'? Would you like to participate in special project teams'? Would you like to assume some of the duties that your supervisor or others in the laboratory currently perform'?

2. in what ways would you like to change your relationship with your supervisor? Would you like greater freedom of action? Would you prefer greater appreciation for your efforts'? Would you like your supervisor to be more cooperative with you'? To change his or her image of you'? Do you want to continue to work with your supervisor

3. In what ways would you like to change your relationship with other members of the laboratory staff? Whom would you like to work with more closely'! Whose support would you like to gain'? Would you like to improve your relationship with laboratory staff members who have been adversaries in the past'?

4. Would you like to change the tempo of your job in any way? Is it too fast or slow'? Would you prefer a more even flow of work? Would you like the tempo to slow down or speed up at certain times of the day or year'?

In a career discussion, try to understand what the employee is saying and repeat it for verification. Give immediate, honest, and direct feedback: Express what you feel about what the employee is saying. Present alternatives-a fresh perspective-for consideration. Maintain realistic expectations. Progress may not be as quick to come as the employee would like.

Summarize the important points that are made during the discussion. Conclude in a hopeful way but without making any promises that you will be unable to fulfill.

As you can see, the options for individuals who are dissatisfied in their jobs are more varied than just moving up. As a supervisor, you can help employees feel better about their present and future jobs if you take the time to counsel them about career alternatives. n
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Roseman, Ed
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Date:Jul 1, 1990
Words:1665
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