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Avoid the seven deadly sins of management.

OVER THE YEARS I have seen an assortment of managers and supervisors come and go. Many of these professionals never attained success because they were guilty of violating one or more of what I refer to as the seven deadly sins of management. Below is a brief synopsis of these wrongdoings, which must be avoided at all costs.

Complacency. Managers who live by the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" syndrome live dangerously. If these people had their way, we'd still be conducting all lab tests using beakers and Bunsen burners. In this high-tech era of ever-changing demands, standing still just doesn't cut it anymore. As team leaders, we are expected to use our talents to consistently fine-tune even the most efficient operations.

Procrastination. It's human nature to put off dealing with an unpleasant task. More often than not, however, these obligations require our immediate attention. Problems seldom rectify themselves, so we must tackle them head-on before they snowball into bigger headaches. If necessary, schedule some uninterrupted time with yourself to address these challenges--and don't break the appointment.

Indecisiveness. It's always wise to make informed decisions. Still, many managers take the information-gathering process to extremes. Running every decision by committee after committee only adds undue delay to situations requiring quick decisions. We sometimes need to rely on our basic instincts. Remember that making the wrong decision is often better than making no decision at all.

Drowning in details. I needn't remind you that a laboratory manager's role is complicated, requiring us to handle significant technical and administrative duties. Unfortunately, many of us feel more comfortable working at the technical level and allow ourselves to get bogged down with the myriad of details that cross our desks each day. In order for a pilot to focus his attention on getting from point A to point B, he must trust his mechanics to insure that the plane is operating properly. Likewise, we must rely on our staff to work out certain problems so that we can concentrate on the big picture.

Responsibility without power. One of the most frustrating aspects of our careers is being asked to perform a job without being given the authority to see it through. If, for example, we are assigned to manage and supervise a staff, it is only fair that we be involved in the hiring, firing, and performance evaluation process. Similarly, if we are expected to analyze specimens on a particular piece of equipment, we should play a significant role in the evaluation and acquisition of that instrument.

Unfortunately, due to the organizational structure of most laboratories, it is not uncommon for managers and supervisors to be given duties without real jurisdiction over them. Therefore, lab directors must be made to understand the need to delegate both aspects of a particular task to us. Conversely, we should not accept a duty without a guarantee that we will have a significant voice in controlling it.

Hibernation. It is crucial that managers and supervisors come out from behind the four walls of their offices once in a while. Doing so will keep us in touch with the goings-on in our departments as well as give our employees the opportunity to share their concerns in neutral territory. In addition, we must make a point of visiting other areas of the hospital to get a fresh perspective on the lab's role in the overall scheme of things.

Equilibrium. Perhaps the biggest mistake that some of us make is losing our balance on the tightrope we walk as members of middle management. It's crucial that we balance the needs of our laboratory with those of our entire facility. To flourish in our jobs, we also must retain the support of both those above us and below us. We can't be all things to all people all the time. We can, however, succeed as both an advocate and a mediator under the right circumstances.

Despite the temptation, we must avoid committing any of the seven deadly sins of management. Only then will we be able to find salvation in the promised land of effective management.

The author is administrator of clinical laboratories at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia. Pa.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Viewpoint
Author:Maratea, James M.
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:Column
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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