This is a continuation of the previous article on Personnel Management/Supervision that appeared in the January 2012 issue, which discussed resolving disagreements and conflict among staff. This article, which is the last in this series, will discuss “management and supervision.”

Arif Subhan, MS, CCE

Arif Subhan, MS, CCE

Management and supervision are the most important aspects of the biomedical/clinical engineering manager’s job. The terms “management” and “supervision” are usually used interchangeably. Management usually refers to the overall control of the total biomedical/clinical engineering department. Supervision generally refers to the control of biomedical/clinical engineering personnel.

According to Salmon,1 most managers and executives agree on the following list of “Top 10” duties for a supervisor:

  • Determine priorities;
  • Schedule and distribute work;
  • Coordinate the efforts of others;
  • Observe and evaluate employees’ performance;
  • Provide accurate and honest performance-based feedback;
  • Coach and train employees;
  • Handle administrative duties and the relevant paperwork;
  • Communicate clearly about policies, procedures, and processes;
  • Address problems and conflicts in a timely manner; and
  • Look at ways to improve the way work gets done.

Most successful supervisors state that the following responsibilities are the main components of their position:

  • Getting the work accomplished timely and safely and within policies, quality standards, and budget guidelines;
  • Depending on others to get work done successfully;
  • Monitoring and interacting with employees at their work sites; and
  • Treating employees fairly and consistently.
Creating a Motivating Work Environment

Creating a positive work environment in which employees feel respected motivates employees to do outstanding work.

One of the biggest challenges a supervisor faces is establishing and maintaining a motivating work environment.

Research has demonstrated that supervisors who use negative reinforcement, intimidation, and manipulation will lead their employees to perform second-rate work. This produces short-term results where the employees produce the minimum to survive.

If the supervisor creates a positive work environment in which employees feel challenged, valued, and respected for their efforts, it will motivate employees to do outstanding work both in the short term as well as the long term.

Getting Commitments from Others

One of the secrets of a supervisor’s success is their ability to encourage and sustain employee involvement. This includes maintaining ongoing communication with the staff about the expectations and priorities of the department. Also, the supervisor should provide regular feedback to the staff about their job performance.

Joint Commission Leadership Standards

The term “leader” is defined in the glossary of the 2012 Hospital Accreditation Standards and states that the leader is “an individual who sets expectations, develops plans, and implements procedures to assess and improve the quality of the organization’s governance, management, and clinical and support functions and processes. At a minimum, leaders include members of the governing body and medical staff, the chief executive officer and other senior managers, the nurse executive, clinical leaders, and staff members in a leadership position within the organization.” This definition includes departmental/service leaders like directors/managers of clinical engineering.

There is a chapter in The Joint Commission’s 2012 Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Hospitals about leadership. See the previous article on leadership in the November 2009 issue of 24×7. The leadership standards affect all the persons who are responsible for the overall governance of the hospital.

Arif Subhan, MS, CCE, is the chief biomedical engineer, VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System, Omaha; adjunct assistant professor, biomedical engineering, University of Connecticut; and a member of 24×7‘s editorial advisory board. The suggestions and views expressed in this article are of the author. They do not represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the University of Connecticut. For more information, contact .

  1. Salmon WA. The New Supervisor’s Survival Manual. New York, NY: American Management Association; 1999.
Review Questions:
  1. The duties of a supervisor are to____.
    1. Schedule and distribute work
    2. Coach and train employees
    3. Observe and evaluate employees’ performance
    4. All of the above

    See the answer

  2. The Joint Commission defines a leader as an individual who____.
    1. Sets expectations
    2. Develops plans
    3. Implements procedures to assess the quality of the organization’s governance
    4. All of the above

    See the answer

  3. To motivate employees, the supervisor should____.
    1. Create a positive work environment for the employees to feel challenged
    2. Value their employees
    3. Respect their employees for their work
    4. All of the above

    See the answer

  4. The following are good characteristics of a biomedical/clinical engineering manager/supervisor, except____.
    1. Maintain communication with staff
    2. Provide feedback to staff on their performance
    3. Make the staff feel challenged
    4. Intimidate staff to perform work

    See the answer