In his book called “Scaling Up” by Verne Harnish, he makes the following statement:
“Senior leaders know they have succeeded in building an organization when they are the dumbest people in the room. If they have all the answers (or act like they do it guarantees organizational silence and guarantees that the senior team carries the entire load of the company on its backs. The best leaders have the right questions but turn to their employees to mine the answers…”
This is great advice for managers at all levels. I have known too many department directors who complain that they are too busy putting out fires to be able to manage effectively. They are caught in a “no win” situation. They have too many fires because they are not managing well, and because of all the fires there is no time to manage. A common trait of these directors is that they seem to want to know and do everything required of their department.
The problem with trying to know and do everything is that the range of knowledge and responsibilities required is far too much for any one person to master. Biomedical department heads must attend numerous meetings and keep updated on the latest state and Joint Commission accreditation standards. They also have to learn and follow the changing requirements of the FDA and NFPA. Frequently, they are called upon to deal with internal matters within their hospitals like lean management, rewriting job descriptions, new employee review methods and attend various classes in quality management and customer service. On the technical side, they must have an understanding of design principles, clinical applications and safety management. They also need to keep abreast of what is happening with lasers, robotics, imaging, infusion pumping, interconnectivity and all of the many types of devices in their inventory. Practically speaking, it is not possible for one person to know and do everything because, to paraphrase Harnish; you carry the entire load of the department on your back. Also, when you carry the entire load, you limit the capabilities of your department to the size of the load you are capable of carrying.
One of the joys of managing BMETs is that they love to learn and grow. Good managers should promote their BMET’s growth by encouraging them to become the department experts in some of the areas that are normally considered management responsibility. Beyond letting them become expert in some areas, managers can delegate committee assignments to BMETs. You may be surprised at how well they respond to the additional recognition and responsibility. By becoming the dumbest person in the room and allowing your staff to excel in many areas, you will improve their job satisfaction and increase your department’s capabilities as you find yourself spending less time putting out fires and more time managing. Sometimes the smartest managers may be the dumbest people in the room.
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