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Employees are people, too.

Employees are people, too

Pressures on laboratory managers to reduce costs, increase productivity, and improve turnaround time can damage employee relations and attitudes. Harried managers often feel they can't pause to worry about minimizing employee stress. Employees in the meantime become more frustrated and less productive, creating a Catch 22 situation that may lead to a manager's termination and employee resignations.

How can managers meet administrative demands, respond to employee needs, and retain their sanity? They can begin by taking a lesson from the unhappy employee who scrawled across his time card, "Do not fold, bend, or mutilate. I am a human being.' That message was a reminder that we sometimes let tasks get in the way of human needs. In our zeal to get the work done, we can forget we owe our jobs as managers to our employees. If they do well, we get the credit. If they do not, we are held responsible.

Employees need to be recognized and singled out for praise, even if only for a moment, and managers can never be too busy for this. Making someone feel valuable and important is integral to developing self-motivation. "In Search of Excellence,' by Peters and Waterman, calls this an employee awareness approach.

It may surprise you to learn that employee awareness programs are not new--they were the rage in the 1950s. Afraid that growing unionism would bring socialism to business, employers tried to acquaint workers with the economic and operational systems of their firms. Better educated workers would be more motivated workers, they felt.

Employee awareness programs waned in the 1960s when high productivity levels led managers to think that motivational approaches were no longer needed. The 1970s brought a rude awakening. The nation faced an oil crisis, double-digit inflation, rising interest rates, and high unemployment. Productivity and quality declined rapidly. The health care industry, hit hard by the recession, was hit again in the early 1980s by prospective payment.

But an interesting phenomenon occurred during these traumatic times. High-quality Japanese products, priced attractively, made great inroads in the U.S. Japan's outstanding productivity was attributed to such employee awareness programs as Theory Z and quality circles. American managers realized once again that people were important.

Health care journals and management texts discussed the value of human relations programs. Personnel offices became human resources departments. In-services focused on employee motivation and interpersonal relations. And hospital managements fell under the influence of management by objectives and quality circles.

Today, however, some employee awareness programs take a back seat to cost containment and productivity efforts made necessary by DRGs. Managers must provide high-quality results and meet greater service demands with leaner staffing. In this situation, their top priority should remain people management.

How do you as a manager let your employees know that you feel they are important? You can:

Give them all the responsibility and authority they can handle.

Assign work that is important and can be undertaken with pride.

Take a sincere interest in employees as individuals.

Never belittle or ridicule.

Ask for and listen to advice from employees.

Share information whenever possible.

Show appreciation for employee contributions.

Employee awareness programs are based on the belief that informed and involved employees can make significant contributions to their organizations. As a manager, you can unleash your staff's hidden potential to reach organizational, departmental, and personal goals.
COPYRIGHT 1986 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:pressures on laboratory managers affect employees
Author:Barros, Annaamarie
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:column
Date:Apr 1, 1986
Previous Article:A look at packaged microcomputer systems.
Next Article:Congress still intent on fee schedules as budget focus shifts to 1987.

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