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Motivating when times are tough.

In this time of rising job insecurity, it takes championship motivating skill to maintain high productivity. Anyone can learn the basic theories of motivation from texts. Putting them into practice, however, is not nearly so simple.

Boil down the psychological theory written by McGregor, Maslow, Herzberg, Skinner, and others and you'll find that motivation amounts to three crucial steps. The employee must want something, must have a way of getting it, and must believe that successful efforts will be rewarded.

The employee must take the first step--setting goals--but the manager holds the key to achieving them. Whatever the incentive, an individual must desire it strongly enough to act. You, the manager or supervisor, can help staff members identify goals and find ways to achieve them, creating a work climate that motivates people.

As the health care industry continues its economic transformation, some may question just where we're moving. You may have to help employees adjust their goals to rapid changes, and possibly even to explore new career paths. When treated as an opportunity rather than a crisis, this process is most rewarding.

Management must provide the motivation catalyst by making goals reachable. Employee involvement is the key. We all hold very personal convictions about how our work should be organized and performed, and we're liable to work far harder to make a new idea or practice succeed when it is our own brainchild.

People everywhere relish the chance to say what they think and get credit for good ideas, and those in the lab are no exception. This simple truth can work wonders as a motivational tool, but only when a manager is willing to share the limelight with others. Some, unfortunately, will downplay or ignore a worthwhile employee suggestion simply because they didn't think of it first.

How do you introduce an improvement to the laboratory? Do you call a meeting, explain the new practice, and order the staff to implement it? That's the easy way--your way. A more effective tactic is to discuss the problem first, soliciting input and steering the group's thinking toward an acceptable solution. Before long, they may offer an approach that's very close to yours, but one they can feel responsible for.

To complete the cycle of motivation, we must believe that we can succeed, and that our success will be rewarded. This step extends management's responsibility still further. We must reinforce individual awareness of achievement with what psychologists call positive stroking, or the open expression of appreciation.

Most laboratorians take pride in their work. Those who do a beautiful job day in and day out tend to get taken for granted, even though they're the ones we need most.

Determine honestly if you spend as much or more time praising good behavior as you do criticizing mistakes or imperfections. Most of us don't. Praise, when we parcel it out, tends to be short and sweet, while criticism tends to be lengthy and detailed. Reverse the procedure for far better results.

The manager who gives out large doses of "warm fuzzies" shows strength, not weakness. Of course, insincere praise is as destructive as constant criticism. When you take time to appreciate, you remind the staff of the pleasure of doing things well and being recognized for it. You also pave the way for better acceptance of counseling to correct negative points.

The best-selling "Putting the One-Minute Manager to Work" neatly sums up the process as the ABCs of management. "A stands for activators ... those things that have to be done by a manager before someone can be expected to accomplish a goal. B stands for behavior or performance ... what a person says or does. C stands for consequences or what a manager does after someone accomplishes or attempts to accomplish a goal."

These ABCs will be lifesavers for managers under severe cost-and staff-cutting pressures. Quality of service and performance levels are directly related to staff morale. If we cut our motivational efforts along with our budgets, we're likely to lose our most productive employees, and be left with those who just get by.
COPYRIGHT 1984 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:medical laboratory
Author:Barros, Annamarie
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:column
Date:Oct 1, 1984
Previous Article:The diagnostic marketplace in 1990.
Next Article:Changes loom for second year of DRGs.

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