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Blood Bank Lead - Any advice, tips, ?


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Hello everyone! I guess this question goes out to those who are currently holding a lead or supervisory position, manager or have held a similar role in past. I was wondering what tips you have for a first timer taking on a leadership role? Any tips or suggestions, things to really focus on etc. All your thoughts and comments are welcome! :) 

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First question, were you promoted from within the organization or did you come in from the outside?  Believe it or not it can make a significant difference n how successful you will be.  I've experienced both in my career.  After I see your response I'll provide my very wise advise.  Rest assured you will find it worth every penny it will cost you.  :rolleyes:

:coffeecup:

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Congrats!   Become very knowledgeable in all things BB.   Read everything you can get your hands on and go to outside meetings.   Learn why we do the things we do.   Don't be afraid to change things that were always done that way.  Get to know other BB leads/supervisors in other hospitals, they are a great resource.  Don't let the staff push you around, you are not their mother or babysitter.   Know the difference between anti A and anti A1 (pet peeve of mine).  You got this!!! 

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19 hours ago, R1R2 said:

 Don't be afraid to change things that were always done that way.  

To this I will add, pick your battles carefully.  Make sure they are worth fighting.  If you came from outside the facility be very judicious when using the phrase, "The way we did it"!  Changing something to the way you did it else where is not necessarily a change for the better just because it makes you comfortable.  Make sure you understand your new facility's processes before trying to incorporate sweeping changes.  As I noted above, much of my advise would depend on if you came from outside or promoted from within.  This is just one golden nugget for you to consider.  :rolleyes:

:coffeecup:

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It warms my heart to have found a blood bank community who is not only very knowledgeable, but supportive and kind. I really appreciate everyone's response. :D 

@John C. Staley I am coming from an outside facility. I am really curious what your experiences are when it comes to being promoted internally vs getting hired from another facility. I very much encourage collaboration, value everyone's opinion and ideas because I am cognizant of the fact that whenever I make a change, I have to make sure that it's 1. a requirement/standard 2. benefits everyone 3. streamlining workflow. Thank you and looking forward to hearing from you! :) 

 

 

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11 hours ago, JeanB said:

What do you guys think are the most challenging part of working as a lead/supervisor/manager in blood bank? 

Maintaining enough staff.  Too many people use a large facility as a stepping stone to another job for more money.

Having Senior Management understand the difference between a Blood Bank and Clinical Lab - we're not the same.

Maintaining inventory.  There is always a shortage of something.

Competency Assessment - huge pet peeve of mine.  You go to a talk by _____________ and hear them pontificate on how we all make competency assessment so hard on ourselves.  Then say something silly like, all you need to do is watch them do a _______ proficiency testing sample, they will be processing regular samples at the same time.  They'll do equipment maintenance, QC, and result entry.  See, it wasn't that hard...  Drives me nuts.  In reality that never happens, we have 40 other staff we need competency for and obviously we can't share the PT sample.  And then the Joint Commission wants competency every 365 days +/- 30 days.  For a lab our size, it takes a tremendous amount of time.  Sorry, this really does drive me nuts with the inspectors.

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13 hours ago, JeanB said:

I am really curious what your experiences are when it comes to being promoted internally vs getting hired from another facility. 

Ok, here we go.  First is from a personnel stand point.  When promoted from with in you are no longer "one of the guys".  This means that some of the staff will try to leverage your close friendship which in turn will cause problems with others.  Both you and the rest of the staff need to recognize that things have changed on a personal level, at least in the work place.  This does not have to be dramatic and should not be, but it is real.  Some can do this and some find it very difficult.  Now, when coming from outside your are exactly that, an outsider.  Now the level of this can vary immensely depending on the situation.  One time when I changed facilities it was just across town and I new many of the staff at the new facility so a lot of the unknowns were minimized.  On the other hand, I also moved to another facility out of state and pretty much walked into an unknown from a staffing standpoint except for what little I could glean from the interview.   As I noted in my previous post, be very judicious when using the phrase, "this is how we did it."  I've had new employees who would say this at every opportunity and then go into detail about how we were either doing it wrong and that their way was just much better.  This became very trying to everyone else on the staff and we finally just tuned them out.  Because of that we probably did miss out on some good ideas.  One last point, in either case be aware of any others staff who may have either applied  for the position or simply been over looked.  Depending on their personality they can either be a great help or a significant hinderance.  Do everything you can to get them involved and engaged.  They can be your greatest asset but it may take a little extra work on your part.  For me, the personnel issues were always the most difficult. 

I'm assuming that you are new to the lead position and not knowing your previous experience here a couple of generalizations.  Unless something is an obvious hazard to either patients, staff or the ability to pass an impending inspection/assessment don't be in a big hurry to make changes.  As they say in the military, you need to understand the lay of the land.  Become familiar with the blood bank/transfusion service medical director and let them have the chance to become familiar with and confident in you.  They can and should be your greatest allies.  Ultimately most of what you want to change will have to be approved by them.  You need to understand the current processes before trying to change them.   At one of the facilities I moved to I noticed that many of the staff were not following their procedures "to the letter".  The way I dealt with this was at the monthly staff meeting we would go through a procedure as a group, line by line and I would ask the questions, "Is this how you are really doing it?  If not, why not and how are you actually doing it?"  This is when I would make suggestions for changes and generally a lively discussion would ensue.  It took quite awhile to go through the procedure manual but by picking, what I considered the most important  one first it was time well spent.  

This is getting a little long so I'll end with how I described my position as Transfusion Service Supervisor at a 350 bed level ll trauma center.  My job was to provide the staff with the tools (equipment, knowledge, material and support) for them to do their jobs at the highest level possible.  All this while keeping the dragons (administration) away from the door.  Good luck and if I can think and anything else that others may miss I share a few more golden nuggets of wisdom with you.  Above all else have faith in your self.  

:coffeecup:     Wow I think that's the longest post I've ever made. 

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  • 2 months later...

"Run Forest, Run"

But seriously, Mr Staley's last paragraph was very preceptive and to the point.  Remember you were a staff tech too!  Work at the bench periodically, walk through the lab and talk with the staff.   Most techs want to do good, be heard, offer ideas and get a little recognition. And I'll end how I started, your days are "like a box of chocolates, you never know what your going to get".   Surprises happen every day in transfusion service, that's why we're blood bankers, keep a sense of humor! Enjoy the ride.

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Beyond any shadow of a doubt - personnel will always be the greatest challenge.  Not enough, not well enough trained, will they follow the SOPs (in spite of the continuous Competency - truly a pain!), will they show up, will they get along with each other...........

Be prepared for that challenge and take advice from a good manager, if you are blessed with one.  Always consider that mistakes may stem from a misunderstanding of what is written in the procedure or the procedure might need a tweak to eliminate a "process" problem.. Approach mistakes from the point of view - "Is it a process problem?  Can someone else make the same mistake?" before you go after the person who made the mistake.

As someone said earlier - get familiar with the standards of whatever inspection organizations you will be responsible for.  Read all of your procedures with those standards in mind and line them up.  That will make inspections so much easier and always gives you a "reason" if you have to change something.

Keep your sense of humor and be adaptable.  Nothing will stay the same forever - change comes along frequently and you have to roll with it.  Make friends (with distance - not "buddies") with your techs - stay friendly with other techs in the Lab and make friends with other administrative personnel - you will be on the front lines with other personnel in the hospital more than other Lab supervisors - think ER and OR.

Best of luck.

 

 

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1 hour ago, carolyn swickard said:

Beyond any shadow of a doubt - personnel will always be the greatest challenge.  Not enough, not well enough trained, will they follow the SOPs (in spite of the continuous Competency - truly a pain!), will they show up, will they get along with each other...........

Be prepared for that challenge and take advice from a good manager, if you are blessed with one.  Always consider that mistakes may stem from a misunderstanding of what is written in the procedure or the procedure might need a tweak to eliminate a "process" problem.. Approach mistakes from the point of view - "Is it a process problem?  Can someone else make the same mistake?" before you go after the person who made the mistake.

As someone said earlier - get familiar with the standards of whatever inspection organizations you will be responsible for.  Read all of your procedures with those standards in mind and line them up.  That will make inspections so much easier and always gives you a "reason" if you have to change something.

Keep your sense of humor and be adaptable.  Nothing will stay the same forever - change comes along frequently and you have to roll with it.  Make friends (with distance - not "buddies") with your techs - stay friendly with other techs in the Lab and make friends with other administrative personnel - you will be on the front lines with other personnel in the hospital more than other Lab supervisors - think ER and OR.

Best of luck.

 

 

VERY wise words.

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  • 1 month later...

I would say have compassion and flexibility, but don't let people walk all over you.  Don't be afraid to ask for what you need, like 5 minutes to finish a task before addressing their issue.  If people are complaining, I will often ask them to come up with a solution.  I definitely agree that stepping into a leadership position internally is more difficult than starting as a leader in a new facility.   One of the most helpful things that I was told early in my career was to vent up, personnel management can be frustrating, but go vent to a supervisor or manager away from the lab, this can often help bring perspective to the situation. 

Good luck!

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