Toughest job: RE: motivation

From:"Morken, Tim"

I've been pretty lucky in that most of the people I've worked with over the years are self-motivators and care about their jobs. But you do occasionally run into the person for whom ANY job is "just a job." They could be flipping burgers and it's all the same to them.
In general the people in the lab need to know that what they do matters. The lab can be impersonal because they never see a patient. You have to find a way of making it personal. One way is to have the pathologists do case reviews in which they take a case and present it to the histology staff, and make sure they show how the histology work made a difference in the outcome. A few of those should show people that their work is important.
The lab staff must have a say in how things are done. their opinion has to count (and not just for show - it really does have to count). So, make sure you have meetings where things are really discussed and problems are solved - not just all talk and complaining. That is the baseline for getting people to think about it being just a job. Your lab director has to be fully behind you on this.
The longest journey begins with a single step.  I suggest working on the ones (hopefully more than one!) who are interested in the work and show promise. Focus on them as a start. Get them involved in the workings of the lab and give them the prime assignments. But don't load them up simply because they will do the work - that will backfire.
Criticisim is fine if it is specific and timely. You must hold out for high standards because the results of poor work affect real people. Don't ever apologize for that. An old saying goes "Praise in public, criticize in private."
Rewards can work if they are more than just paper on the wall. Money certainly isn't "childish." Extra time off, being able to go to a meeting, going to training, letting someone interact with other departments on projects are all forms of rewards. BTW, if money is a problem, see if the pathologists will kick in for something. I was very lucky to work for a pathologist who paid out of his own pocket to send some of us to meetings because he believed so strongly that they were important for us and the lab.
Once you turn a  couple of them into caring people it will be easier to bring the others in. It will take awhile, but if you persevere you will end up with a good group of people.

Tim Morken
CDC, Atlanta

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Sunday, March 09, 2003 3:15 PM
Subject: motivation

I need help!!!

I have been a Supervisor here for a year and a half.  The problem is lack of responsibility and motivation.  I have tried everything that I can think of to try yo get the employees to understand that we are a team here for the benefit of the patients that are waitng for the results of thier biopsies.  Before I came here they hadn't had a supervisor for almost 3 years.
The things that I have tried have caused the following responses from the employees:
"That is childish" - in response to a reward system
"She is too direct" - in response to my expectations
"She is condinscending" - in response to my staff meetings when errors are pointed out

Any advice would be greatly appreciated-- I am ready to give up and I don't like to give up.

I would prefer to remain anonymous on the list server, but if anyone would like to delve deeper, I would be happy to chat outside the list server.

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