Leadership in Changing Times

Leadership in Changing Times
Management Sessions Highlight Communication, Motivational Strategies

By Genna Rollins

Laboratorians interested in beefing up their knowledge of management issues will have ample opportunities to do so this week. In recognition of the interest in and need for a better grounding in topics such as communication, change management, and improved productivity, AACC’s Management Sciences Division has made a concerted effort to bring this type of programming to the annual meeting. “One of the things we want to do is to make members aware of management topics and their impact on the clinical lab,” explained Leroy Mell, PhD, MBA, clinical laboratory director of Integrated Regional Laboratories in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. “We have some of the best minds in science, but when it comes to talking to the people who make decisions about methodologies and monies, there’s a gap in understanding.” Mell is past chair of the Management Sciences Division.

AACC’s Society for Young Clinical Laboratorians (SYCL) for members under age 40 also has committed to sponsor more management-related programming based on a recent survey of SYCL members that indicated they would like to see more leadership topics, according to SYCL chair Carmen Wiley, PhD, DABCC, FACB, co-director of chemistry and immunology and director of the bioanalytical laboratory at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Wash.

Examining Intergenerational Values

Mell will present a morning short course today from 10:30 a.m. to noon titled “21st Century Multi-Generational Leadership, or Why No One Wants to Work Evenings, Nights, Weekends or Holidays Anymore,” in Room 303C of the Anaheim Convention Center. “I hope to help attendees understand the value systems of different generations and how they impact each generation’s decision making and choices in the work environment,” he explained. For example, Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, tend to relate how well they do in life by how well they do at work, whereas individuals in Generation X; born between 1965 and 1980; tend to place more priority on time off and social and family activities. These differences play out in terms of how to best motivate and reward different generations, Mell explained.

Different intergenerational values also can create complications when it comes to adhering to the structure required in healthcare operations, according to Mell. For instance, the Millennial generation, born between 1983 and 2001, tend to expect instant gratification and ample time off. “In healthcare that can be difficult because we have regulations and have to do things a certain way. It’s challenging to get people into that when their thought process doesn’t work that way,” he added.

Intergenerational differences also will be highlighted in an Afternoon Symposia on Wednesday from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. titled “Leadership Skills for the Laboratory Professional: Generational Differences, Leadership Styles, Conflict Resolution, and Change Management” in Room 201 AB of the Anaheim Convention Center. “We hope attendees will be able to identify and understand how the different generations act and think and how we can work to their respective strengths,” said Wiley, who will serve as both moderator and a speaker during the session. “We would like for participants to have a greater appreciation of different leadership styles, how to recognize when to use these styles in the correct situations, and how to be effective in leading change.” This program was developed in cooperation with both SYCL and the Management Sciences Division.

Wiley will review the broad characteristics of the various generations in the work force today, with an eye towards how each is perceived by colleagues in other generations. Co-presenting with her will be Mayo Clinic colleagues Brad Karon, MD, PhD, co-director of hospital labs and director of point-of-care testing in Rochester, and James Hernandez, MD, MS, assistant professor and medical director of laboratories in Scottsdale and Phoenix, Ariz. Karon will discuss the different types of leadership styles and how they work well in certain situations and can be challenging in others. Hernandez will focus on how to motivate lab professionals to embrace change in the ever-evolving world of healthcare. He will describe factors that influence change adoption and how lab leaders, acting with emotional intelligence and social skills, can lead change even when it is disruptive and uncomfortable.

What’s Your Communication Style?

Tips and tools for communicating with colleagues both in and outside the lab will be the subject of an afternoon interactive workshop today titled “Enhancing Professional Effectiveness Through Improved Communication Skills.” The workshop, which will be held in Room 304 A of the Anaheim Convention Center from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., will be presented by Cherie Petersen, teaching specialist at ARUP Laboratories in Salt Lake City. Peterson, who has more than 15 years’ experience as a trainer and consultant in leadership development, customer service, and communication, will discuss how to recognize different styles of communication and successfully interact with individuals depending on their communication preferences. “Using a couple of cues you can determine if someone is more interested in facts or is swayed more by feelings,” she explained. “Knowing their style, you can then change your communication methods so that you can communicate more effectively with them.”

Communication skills do not come naturally to many lab professionals, yet in today’s environment the ability to relate effectively to others is more in demand, according to Petersen. “Often the people working in a lab are there because they wanted to go into healthcare, but not necessarily work closely with other people, and they tend not to be the most engaging with others,” she explained. “However, they’re having to spend more time today consulting with people outside the lab, and are not just working behind an analyzer all day. They have to engage more than has been necessary in the past.”

Petersen hopes to arm participants with knowledge that will enable them to be successful in conveying information regardless of the context. “Have you noticed that sometimes the conversation flows easily, but at other times it’s so frustrating because your style is not matching the person you’re talking to? They process information differently than you do,” she explained. Being able to quickly discern these traits in others will enable lab professionals to adjust their communication style to best relay important information to these individuals.

LEAN in Theory and Practice

Improving productivity and patient safety will be the focus of an afternoon interactive workshop on Tuesday from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. titled “LEAN Principles and Practices in the Lab: Reducing Errors and Improving Productivity.” This session, developed in cooperation with both the Management Sciences Division and the Patient Safety Task Force, will take place in Room 304 A of the Anaheim Convention Center.

“There’s been an increasing and continuing interest in techniques such as LEAN and Six Sigma as labs look at quality and process improvements with the goal of improving patient safety,” noted Jack Zakowski, PhD, director of scientific affairs and professional relations at Beckman Coulter. “Labs have ongoing resource limitations and are being asked to do more with less, so they have a need to become more effective and efficient, and there’s always a desire to improve patient care through reduced errors, sample misidentification, and other quality problems in labs.” Zakowski will moderate the workshop, which will include presentations by Michael Astion, MD, PhD, and Ralph Dadoun, PhD, MBA.

Astion, a clinical pathologist, professor, and director of reference laboratory services at the University of Washington in Seattle, will give an overview of LEAN principles, particularly as they apply to tackling patient safety concerns. Astion, who also edits CLN’s quarterly Patient Safety Focus, has been a longstanding advocate of the need for labs to identify better methods of detecting and improving errors, thereby improving quality and safety.

Dadoun, vice president of corporate and support services at St. Mary’s Hospital Center in Montreal, will describe LEAN experiences based on a survey of labs that implemented the performance improvement model. “These will be concrete examples of how LEAN was used in practice and what the labs achieved,” said Zakowski.

Collectively, these management-oriented programs will offer laboratorians practical and timely solutions to leadership challenges in 21st Century lab operations.

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