Tony Kurec, MS,(H)ASCP,DLM
CLMA Body of Knowledge Domains: Governance and Organizational Dynamics, Professional Development, Quality and Safety
Human resources is one of the most difficult and often time consuming areas of laboratory management. Over time, some employees can become complacent or disengaged with their job creating a tense work place, making them, and perhaps others, unhappy employees. Key to good management is good leaders. Leaders, who are perceptive enough to identify talent in those who otherwise appear to be problem employees, who listen, observe, and communicate appropriately showing concern and resolving issues in a confident manner. Good leaders recognize when they have to be supportive rather than being direct with employees.
Good leaders need to recognize potential problem employees early on, starting at the time of recruitment. By preparing documents the job responsibilities sets the stage for the clear and concise understanding by the employee of what is expected from them and what the employee can expect from their employer.
Developing a process that objectively looks at potential new hires is important in order to fairly assess and select the kind of employee that appears to be a good fit for the laboratory. One also must keep in mind there are some legal issues that have to be considered in order to avoid repercussions. This also applies to letting an employee go when all efforts to resolve employee problems fail. Though an employee may not be at a desired competency level or have some other non-resolvable issue, terminating without prejudice and comprehensive documentation could lead to a prolonged and unpleasant legal battle.
When disciplining and potentially dismissing a difficult employee, consider ways of not punishing the individual, but rather what you can do to help that person move to a higher level of competency. Consider time, effort, cost, morale, and/or other environmental issues that will have to be dealt with in letting an individual go. Conversely, consider what happens if you do nothing and allow a troublesome employee to continue. Balance the pros and cons to ensure a just decision is made.