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Orienting the new supervisor.

A new supervisor can learn about a section's day-to-day administrative activities by one of two methods--systematic orientation or the hard way.

The latter is the more usual approach, involving months of trial and error. it's how I received my own introduction to the job of hematology supervisor six years ago. I would get notices of reports past due without prior mention of the deadline or advance instructions on how to prepare the reports. Necessary explanations often came as afterthoughts, and many assignments had to be completed late or rushed through.

True, I had worked as a technologist in the same section before my promotion. But there is a difference between bench-level awareness of workload recording, quality control reports, scheduling, and inventory control, and thorough knowledge of how these tasks are performed.

Not too long ago, when the time came to move on to another assignment in our laboratory, I recalled my early supervisory frustrations. Would my successor in hematology have to go through the same cycle of anxiety and unpleasant surprises? Not if i could help it.

I decided to design an exit report to ease the transition into administrative responsibilities. Among other things, it outlined regular duties and their deadlines and indicated where special assignments currently stood.

Figure I, for example, is a checklist of daily duties for the hematology supervisor. It deals with immediate business--keeping on top of the workload, reviewing test reports, checking quality control graphs.

With the administrative schedules in Figure II, we widen out to responsibilities that recur periodically: supply ordering twice a week and monthly, monthly and quarterly workload recording reports, monthly evaluation of quality control tolerance limits, semi-annual classes for medical technology students, annual laboratory orientations for first-year residents, and so on.

Figure III conisists of notes to the new supervisor on pending matters that require immediate attention and familiarity, as well as longer-term items, such as incomplete assignments and holiday schedules. Deadlines are listed wherever appropriate.

The idea is to be helpful, so these notes are more than a barebones outline. Thus, at one point I write: "I have been trying to get a file of extra control slides going for use of the differential counter. Since so many data are needed for calculations, the process is slow. I will sort out what I have but you will have to keep this in mind and push to increase the number of slides in this file for both differentials and reticulocytes."

Other elements of the exit report may take the form of attachments--summaries or schedules already prepared for laboratory management and staff, possibly augmented with comments addressed to teh new supervisor. In this category would fall the annual section report written by each supervisor in our laboratory. it is an account of major occurrences and trends over the last 12 months. Among the topics: personnel turnover and problems, instruments acquired or planned for the section, tests added to the menu, and productivity.

Approved vacation time and rotation schedules, from one work station into another and for holiday and weekend coverage, should also be attached to the exit report. In adition, guidelines on how the rotations are drafted will enable the new supervisor to produce future schedules without undue difficulty.

If more than three months have elapsed since the last performance evaluation on any employee, the departing supervisor should prepare another written evaluation and review it with the employee. The supervisor should also read over his or or her own job description and performance standards and marke notes of altered responsibilities that are not reflected in these documents.

In fact, a review of all the administrative files is in order as a supervisor gets ready to leave the section. The incoming section head will at times rely on information in the files. If the information is outdated--if protocols on reporting have been changed, say, but not brought up to date in the files--then the new supervisor may well be led astray.

When the exit report is finally assembled, the departing supervisor and the next-level manager discuss its contents. That could be a section pathologist, the chief technologist, or the laboratory manager. His questions and suggestions are important, not only because of his position but also because he is the likeliest person to orient the new supervisor, with the exit report as his "text." In most cases, there is no overlap between the old and new supervisors. The former goes on to another organization before a replacement is named.

Much of the orientation may be accomplished through carefully guided self-instruction. The new supervisor can be given a series of assignments:

* Read your job description and performance standards and then discuss what is expected of you with the section pathologist and/or chief technologist. Discuss the protocol for chain of command in communications.

* Review CAP inspection checklists for the laboratory and for your particular section. Investigate the section's compliance with CAP find deficient and act on those that demand immediate attention.

* Glance through the section's administrative files. List unfamiliar topics and plan to look into them in more detail at a later date.

* Review a union handbook and other guidelines that will acquaint you with the rights of employees and managers.

* Review the job descriptions and performance standards for all personnel in your section. Begin to outline procedures you will use to monitor the performance of your personnel.

* Become familiar with all work stations in your section, supply locations, procedure manuals, protocols, records, and references.

* Study procedures and protocols for routine supervisory tasks, such as reviews of results and quality control, ordering and receiving supplies, and recording and reporting workload.

* Go through the section's last annual report and any updates provided by the former supervisor. Discuss routine operation of the section with the section pathologist and/or chief technologist. Also discuss your initial objectives in the job and for the section.

This type of orientation, along with the introduction to general management skills that new supervisors often receive, can make the first year in the job a great success rather than a grim struggle.
COPYRIGHT 1984 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:McGreachy, Cassandra
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Date:Mar 1, 1984
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