Biomed R and R

c03a.jpg (6937 bytes)R and R is very important to this industry, and it’s a little different from the R and R known and loved by the military, so in this and in a future column, we’re going to look at recruiting and retention of biomeds.

The first step you normally take, if you are a manager who needs to recruit biomeds for a hospital or company, is to get out your card file and locate people you have met or worked with in the past. The second step is to call around and ask your colleagues if they know anybody who may be looking for a new job. The third step is to stage a raid on a competitor and steal its personnel. Only when those steps fail will we turn to local schools, the military, or place a help-wanted ad in a newspaper or magazine. If everything fails, the typical biomed-seeking manager will enlist the help of a “headhunter.”

The problem is that we too often launch into the recruiting ritual before identifying what we really need. Are we just replacing the skills of a person that left, or are we upgrading the skill requirements so the department can perform other functions? This is a “business rule” that most of us forget about. When you recruit you should be looking 2-3 years into the future, not 2-3 weeks or months.

Recruits are evaluated as to how well they meet your business needs and those of your customers in the future, but you also need to know how that new recruit will work with your present staff. Having more than one anal retentive person in a department is sure trouble. Is this new person a slob or a neat freak? Does this person come in on-time and work a full day, or is this recruit semi-retired and hasn’t bothered to tell you? What hidden skills does the new person have that will complement your existing staff? You are trying to put together a winning team so you have to make sure personalities and skills blend instead of clash.

Potentially the most important “business rule” of recruiting is do not overpromise pay, growth or training. If pay, growth or training is not based on performance you have got a problem that cannot be fixed, even with duct tape.

Recruiting entry level personnel from schools is not difficult and generally you can develop these recruits into very good techs. If they have a strong electronics/mechanical background they can learn the physiology quickly; the application of technology takes a little more time. Generally, a well-chosen student is a good choice over a person with experience but no formal training. They cost less over a two-year period and you can train them to your way of thinking and working.

Retaining personnel has several “business rules” and we’ll look at them in more detail in my next column. For now, consider this question when you are presented by an individual problem: do you want to retain this person?

Many times a long-term employee can become a pain in the butt, rusted out or in the “we always did it this way and there is no reason to change” groove, threatening to leave in an attempt to get a raise. For this person, hold the door open and make sure he or she leaves, then buy a round of drinks for the staff to celebrate your freedom. This is the type of person you do not want to retain, if you want to grow in your position.

Finally, there are good people that you should not try to retain. These are people that you have nurtured to the point where they seek challenges that cannot be offered in your organization. It is sad to see managers who prevent good people from advancing simply because the manager is too scared to look for another person.

Maybe it’s because I am dragging 60 instead of pushing 60 that my outlook has changed, but some of my proudest moments have been when I hear someone praise a person who had once worked for me and moved on to other positions. That is the best feeling a teacher/mentor/manager can ever have.

Happy Holidays.

Veteran educator/clinical engineer/technology manager and 24×7 contributing editor David Harrington is the Director of Special Projects for Technology in Medicine, Inc. of Holliston, Mass.