When Did Loyalty And Longevity Become A Bad Thing?

I have worked as a Medical Laboratory Technologist in a Baltimore area hospital for 38 years. During those years I have seen changes in technology, testing, the use of information technology and automation. I have also lived through the warp-speed changes brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

What I have learned over the past thirteen months under new management is that staying in one place for so long is viewed as a bad thing. For years I have gotten the looks and questions from the younger generation (who seems to change jobs as often as they upgrade to the latest cell phone) about why would I work in one place for that long of a time. I understand that and accept it; I find it humorous, actually.

Being of German descent, I have a strong work ethic and I take pride in that. Cal Ripken, Jr. is my sports idol and what he did everyday is well-known; 2632 games played in a row. Trying to emulate him, I have not missed a day of work due to illness for 30+ years. My maternal grandfather and my parents instilled in me and my siblings that you find something you like to do and you give everything you can to your employer. Take care of your job and your job will take care of you.

I find that to be an archaic concept now.

Part of the problem is that I have been working in the lab longer than my direct supervisor has been alive; she is 36 years old. The new Manager is probably not much older either. The lab’s Medical Director was in elementary school when I started working there.

I was also taught that if you wanted to find success in your profession you find a mentor who has achieved that success and pick that person’s brain. I have always sought out advice from others and have worked previously with a group of people who wanted to do the best that could be done together.

The culture now is “look at me and what I’ve done”. Today’s management knows it all even though they are not aware of what goes on in the “trenches”. I’ve seen things, ideas and concepts come and go and come back again and I try to voice both sides of how those decisions will affect the workflow. Speaking from experience is now considered “negative”.

When I’m asked why the lab does something a certain way, I try to explain the why and the history behind the why. Those explanations are looked at with a blank stare and comments of that’s stupid or I’ve never heard of that.

Management have a very narrow view of the lab; time started in November of 2020. No one is interested in what we have been through collectively. Those experiences shaped what the lab is now but none of that matters.

Should an opinion or feeling be expressed, I am told that I shouldn’t feel that way or that I shouldn’t take things personally. Opinions and feelings are now devalued.

When did this all change? Are the current management teachings such that if you have the title, you have ALL the right answers?

Reset and teamwork are the current buzzwords thrown around the lab. Reset means do things the Manager’s way and teamwork only applies as long as you agree with her pre-determined policies and thoughts. If you disagree she walks away from you and claims you are being difficult.

I do not profess to have all the answers but I thought my experience would have some value. I am treated like a dinosaur who’s time has come and gone. Working in one place is not a bad thing or is it?

My goal was to reach 45 years of service; I’m not sure I will be allowed to achieve that. This new management has other priorities.

When Humanity Exits The Workplace

The few people that follow me and my writing know of my passion for baseball and Minor League baseball. I am known as an amateur columnist and blogger for OriolesHangout.com. What you may not know is that my full-time job is being a Team Lead in the Clinical Laboratory at a Hospital Center in Baltimore.

Working in a lab during the Covid-19 Pandemic has been both challenging and stressful. We are working in a constant state of flux; the rules change almost daily. People are leaving the profession at an alarming rate and there seems to be a dearth of individuals willing to enter the field. Frustration is at an all-time high and there is no end in sight.

Exacerbating the stressful work environment is the loss of humanity in the workplace. Yes, we have to wear masks and we do try to social distance wherever possible per hospital protocol. This can make communication difficult but we have adapted. The loss of humanity falls directly in the lap of management, however. Administrators, Managers, Supervisors and even the Medical Director stay planted in their collective offices and communicate through phone calls, texts and e-mails. People may be just 15 feet away and they get a phone call; no longer is there interaction with the staff. We are treated like minions who are unworthy to be looked in the eye and talked to.

And to think that I thought what happened back in 2019 to our lab was rock-bottom. Anonymous complaints by a disgruntled employee(s) are minor when viewed under the light of current circumstances. The loss of human contact and respectful, professional conversations between management and staff is painful. It has lead to misinformation, rumors, distrust and a cloud of misery hanging over the lab as a whole.

A little over a year ago, the hospital brought in a manager who was portrayed as the person who would clean up the lab and put it on the right path following the multiple anonymous complaints. What we got instead is a dictator who has managed to make matters worse. The manager’s autocratic leadership style has put the lab in turmoil and has silenced the staff as their opinions and thoughts are viewed as negative if they run counter to what the manager thinks is best. Decisions are made beforehand and opinions are solicited only to make it appear as if the effort is collaborative.

Teamwork has been preached but not practiced; the manager is a “team” of one with hands in everything, yet nothing seems to get done. Should you see the manager, you see the cell phone in their hand and a glance at the clock on the phone says your audience is over. The only thing missing is a ring to kiss as a sign of fidelity to the institution the manager represents.

Preaching teamwork is not enough, the group has to be viewed as a team and treated as such. An actual conversation will certainly facilitate that teamwork. A lack of human decency only erodes it.

A Profound Loss For Birdland

On Saturday night at about 11pm, the world and Birdland lost a very good and kind man. Michael “Weams” Williams, Managing Editor of Orioles Hangout, passed away following a battle with stage-4 kidney cancer. He passed with his wife Denise by his side and with the joy of seeing the Baltimore Orioles defeat the New York Yankees by a score of 4-3.

Michael asked me to join him at Orioles Hangout a few years ago and told me that I was “hand-picked” by him to continue in his absence as he fought his illness. I was honored then and I am still honored by that. I am forever grateful to him for the opportunity he presented me with. (Site owner, Tony Pente, deserves my gratitude as well). My intention was only to keep Michael’s seat warm and that he would beat the cancer and return to the Hangout, God had another plan, however.

I never met Michael in person, something I will forever regret, but his passing has affected me deeply. I truly am at a loss for words. We communicated via email and Twitter mainly, but I did have a telephone conversation with him back in July. We shared similar tastes in music and even had a Twitter exchange of Yes song lyrics. I will forever consider him a friend and will miss him dearly.

You may ask, “how can the loss of someone you never met affect you so?”. Tony Pente’s tribute to Michael explained how that could be very eloquently. Michael had that way about him to connect with everyone. He genuinely was a kind and good person, humanity needs more people like Michael Williams.

Birdland lost one of their most devout fans on Saturday night. Michael loved the Orioles but not more than he did love his wife Denise, who he met fittingly at an Oriole game. Fate has a way of making things like this happen.

Orioles Hangout will never fill the void left behind with Michael’s passing. I know I will never be able to equal the standard he set for me; my goal now is to make him proud and live up to the confidence he had in me.

The outpouring of love and good thoughts for “Weams” are best read on this Forum thread at Orioles Hangout.

To Denise I want to send my deepest condolences, you are in my thoughts and prayers.

To Michael, Rest In Peace, my friend. Until we finally meet…..

Prayer for Eternal Rest (The Requiem Prayer)

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
~Amen~