Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I got your management right here

Ed Truck, yuck, Ed Truck was the manager before me. Horrible. He hated fun. It was like, oh Ed Truck is walking toward us, stop having fun. Start pretending to do work. What a jerk. He's... you know what... I swore to myself that if I ever got to walk around the room as manager people would laugh when they saw me coming, and would applaud as I walked away.

If I can get them depressed, then I'll have done my job.

~~Michael Scott

My friend Dan (AKA Milwaukee Dan #1, AKA KatManDude) is a journalist, and he recently posted some articles on Facebook about a memo that was sent out recently at his paper. Apparently, reporters are to write a memo at the end of the day about how they spent their time during the workday. (You can read about it here.) These memos will be read by several editors, and will supposedly assist in communication, tracking productivity, and making meetings more efficient. This memo has apparently gone viral, and is now making national news in the publishing world. I told Dan that I suspect that's not the kind of national publicity the paper wants to get!

I told him that it's amazing to me that such divergent professions as ours--journalism and microbiology--can still utilize some of the same lame, demoralizing management tactics! This sort of productivity tracking came up a few times in my career in the lab, and it was usually because of the same old story--there are one or two people who have problems with time management and productivity, so instead of addressing the individual, they punish the entire group by making them all do things like keeping track of what they do during their day. In the case of Dan's paper, I got the impression from reading some of the comments that something more may be afoot, and these memos may be used for the next round of layoffs that everyone believes will come. How's that for inspiring the troops and motivating people?

What really kind of tickled me about this whole thing (I can usually find the humor in just about anything) was the example that the editor who wrote the memo gave of what a typical daily memo might look like. I'm including the whole thing, because it's just plain funny!

Checked e-mail; Checked logs at Mishawaka, county and South Bend; Responded to accident at Ironwood and bypass; Called Mishawaka Detective Bureau about child neglect case (records would not provide narrative since it is under investigation by CPS); Called Mishawaka woman struck Monday by hit-and-run driver while she was getting into her car; Wrote story on woman struck by hit-and-run driver; Placed call to Trent about two rape cases that were on log (he was not in this morning); left message. Called Humane Society of St. Joseph County to see if any animals were taken out of home in Mishawaka where elderly lady was livign in filth surrounded by several full litter boxes; was told someone would be in contact. Updated productivity report; Spoke briefly with Trent about rape cases on log - appears to be teenage girl covering up for sexual escapades; Spoke with John Pavlekovich about concerns regard retirement story - presumably ironed everything out; Pow-wowed with Dave about year-end crime stories - I get homicides! -- start working on lead smelter reporting, call health dept. again, talk to lead director, no idea what I'm talking about; -- call IDEM local office, am transferred to regional office, leave message for public relations people; -- am asked to work on Goshen beating story; -- call Goshen PIO, discuss YouTube video beating; -- try to find number for YouTube mom, search phone books, internet; -- do web update; -- call Goshen schools superindendent, leave message; -- go to video bootcamp lunch; -- research YouTube beating posted by teens, leave message for national anti-Internet abuse lady; -- reach other woman affilated with anti-Internet abuse, talk to about story; -- call super Intendant again, leave second message; -- go to 2 p.m. interview with judge Scopelitis, wait forever in rotunda because he's in hearing, finally leave and reschedule; -- call back superindendant, finally reach for story; -- find address for YouTube mom; -- write YouTube video story, file story; -- give graph to john stump for lead smelter story; -- Drive out to Goshen to try and find YouTube mom, get lost, turn around, find trailer park, can't find address, finally find address, family no longer lives there, drive back. Planning to come in around 9 tomorrow.

My favorite parts are "pow-wowing with Dave" and "drive to Goshen, get lost, turn around...."

You've GOT to be kidding me. Unfortunately for Dan and his colleagues, it's not a joke. But you can leave it to me to make it one! So here's what my memo of a day at the lab might look like. If I were asked to do that kind of memo, I would make it very detailed. And don't despair, Dan. I bet this will eventually fade away, like most bad ideas do.

How I Spent My Day

Clocked in a little early, put on my lab coat, and started work. When everyone else arrived, spent some time, about 15 minutes or so, discussing the new daily memo policy. I told everyone that if this is what management needs in order to do their jobs, we should give them what they're asking for.

Took racks out of the incubator, assessed my workload for the day. Three full racks of Hospital cultures will mean a busy day. Begin to scan cultures, take a phone call from Dr. H. wondering about evening shift culture. Go pull out the PM racks, look through them to find the culture he's asking about, give him the results. Put PM racks back in incubator. Resume scanning my cultures, take phone call from K. in Client Services wondering if we received a culture. Check on the computer, no record of the culture or of the patient. Tell K., she says she doesn't believe me, I tell her I'll get back to her. Look in problem book; no record of culture. Look through 3 boxes of yesterday's specimens, no specimen found. Call K. back, she asks to speak to my supervisor. I tell her they aren't in yet but I'll leave them a message. Write note, place on manager's door. Resume scanning cultures.

Take a phone call from Dr. P. asking about a urine culture. E. is doing urine cultures that day, so we look through all five racks of urine cultures before finding the one Dr. P. wants. I relay the results, enter a preliminary report on the culture. Stain and read a stat Gram stain. Resume scanning cultures.

Take a phone call from a patient (still not sure how they get the direct number to Micro--does Client Services forward them to us?) and explain that I cannot give out their results over the phone. They spend 10 minutes explaining their symptoms to me and I tell them that I cannot give out their results and they will have to contact their doctor.

Take coat off, wash hands, go pee. Resume scanning cultures. Decide to skip morning break due to workload.

Take another phone call from Dr. H. about whether or not a Staph is an MRSA. Go find plates in incubator, relay results. Stain and read a stat Gram stain.

Finish scanning cultures, do all rapid tests, get plates over to Vitek setup for susceptibility testing. Check negative broth rack; pull negative culture racks out of incubator, enter final reports. Enter preliminary negative results.

Take a phone call from a sales rep asking for manager. Walk phone back to manager's office to see if they're in yet. Leave phone with manager, return to bench. Enter previous evening's susceptibility results, walk back to manager's office to retrieve phone. Send requests to phone 12 MRSA's, fill out cards for all, file.

Take coat off, wash hands, attend half-hour mandatory fire extinguisher training.

Return to bench, enter new positive results. Stain and read two stat Gram stains. Take phone call about delayed Parasitology results. Walk back to Parasitology to see if anyone is in there, no one scheduled till evening shift. Leave note asking them to read that one ASAP.

1:45 PM, everyone else is back from lunch, take off my coat, wash my hands, go to lunch. Drop my spoon on the floor, have to go get another one. Eat my yogurt, granola bar, and 4 Hershey's Kisses. Visit the bathroom, brush my teeth, pee. (Took an extra couple of minutes to change my tampon, because it's that time of the month.) Return to bench. Take a phone call about a flu test result, walk to back, staining is in progress, relay to caller that results will be available by 5 PM.

Pull 4 racks of cleanup out of incubator. Begin entering final results if possible. Stain and read stat Gram stain. Take off coat, wash hands, go pee. Return to bench.

Stop to attend staff meeting. Upper management there, says we're doing a great job, but we need to work smarter, asks for ideas. Someone makes a suggestion, discussion ensues, no decision made, deferred till next meeting.

Return to bench, continue final reports. Finish bench, spend half hour writing productivity memo. Clean and disinfect bench.

Only one and a half hours of overtime.


  1. I think your report is very thorough! Great job! I personally think this kind of thing is RIDICULOUS!! We are having to do the same thing where I work. We have to stop what we ARE DOING EVERY HOUR to write down the amount of production for that hour. That is counterproductive in my opinion, but what would I know? I'm just a factory worker?

  2. Feel like a hamster on a wheel?? I know I often do, people who do not work in hospitals have no idea what a typical day is like, and most likely would not believe it...

  3. You know I'm going to count how many times I pee in a day now.

  4. Get back to us on that, Amy!
    Personally, I hate productivity reports, but am thankful that I only have to list pages designed and meetings attended.
    I hope somebody learns something from this PR debacle.

  5. Beth I never knew you were so cultured!

  6. we have to account for EVERY MINUTE of our day, which is supposed to be noted in our lesson plans.



  7. Funny stuff! You better make sure you fill this stuff out ... I heard they are going to hire Terry Tate to make sure everybody buys in!

  8. I have an award for you over at my blog. Come by & pick it up.


  9. OMG...just the peeing part is enough for management to say "what???" The call center I used to work in actually wanted people to pee at their designated breaks! Tell that to my bladder!

  10. OMGosh... I'm SO glad I work where I do, it's not so bad now that I've read all this... LOL!!

  11. Oh dear Beth,,,hope it woudlo not beused to sack you !! do you realise you forot to put your coat back on before you started work again at one point...definatley sackable LOL what are we comming to. It is so rediculas..I am glad that I am retired and out of all that madness...It would be great though to see what the MD's do with their day !!
    Love Sybil xx

  12. I just love the Office !
    We havent had to do this procedure as of yet. But I agree, a few people that cant manage their time just ruins it for everyone. You know what I hate? The people that stand around and talk like they have nothing better to do....and management walks back and forth and never says a word to them. HATE that.

  13. i am laughing my ass off right now. I could write one that, if i had enough time to put into it, would also be over the top funny and no one would believe it. I quite enjoyed reading your "memo". Guess mgmt never did show up that day! XO

  14. What a busy person. Beth where did you go on my blog list in my dashboard ???. I just realized when I was going over my dashboard you were not there.I did not make you disappear. Come back. Lucy

  15. Beth the tampon was a funny part!!! LOL
    What a thorough day.
    Take care

  16. It takes you THAT long to change a tampon? :-)

    But seriously, that kind of minute-by-minute time accounting is SOOOO counterproductive. Geesh!

  17. Micro Management has never been a favorite of mine. Great entry, thanks for the laugh. Take care and enjoy,

  18. I got a kick out of this, can you imagine if you had to do this daily. It would be strait jacket time for me. LOL

  19. Is it even possible to get lost in Goshen?

  20. Dear Beth,
    what an interesting entry!
    what a busy life you lead!
    Beth, please if you get the chance would you weigh in on what rights from the Bill of Rights are important to you and post your comments on my entry?I would really appreciate it. thanks!:)

  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?