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Climbing the Phlebotomy Ladder

Phlebotomists who want to rise among their ranks need to look within

by Dennis Ernst • November 01, 2019


Phlebotomists looking to advance in their profession should look within. Do you appeal to those who offer positions with greater responsibility? Do you provide your employer with good reasons to eliminate your position, or are you the kind of person managers will fight to keep on staff? Conduct this self-assessment to see if you have any internal obstacles that could be preventing you from reaching new heights or even keeping your current position.

Do you make your manager's job easier or harder?

The right answer is obvious, but take a serious look at yourself as your manager sees you. If you quit your job yesterday, would your manager hire you back today? If you think he/she wouldn't, your job's in jeopardy. Think of the reasons you wouldn't be rehired, and fix them. Consider employment at your facility to be a privilege, not a right. Strive to earn that privilege every day by making your supervisor's job easier. It's not "sucking up to the boss" if your motive is sincere and selfless, so forget what your coworkers might think. You don't work for them, anyway. Besides, they have no authority to invite you up the ladder or to secure your employment. Don't like your boss? Then you only have two choices: find something to like about him/her or find employment elsewhere. If you stop looking at the negatives about that person and focus on the positives, you might start looking more like a long-term employee in his/her eyes and less like someone who needs to be the object of a "staff reduction."

Do you deal with difficult people with poise or poison?

According to author and management speaker Dale Dauten, every tenth person is a jerk. If one of them is your boss, deal with it. That means not focusing on their jerky-ness, but focusing on your job. Jerks usually self-destruct. When that happens, make sure you're in a position to step up. You'll never be in that position if you're known for your contempt of authority, however detestable the jerk is. If you focus like a laser beam on your responsibilities and making your jerk-boss's job easier, you've taken the high road, which usually lined with ladders to even higher roads. If the jerk is a physician or patient, the same rules apply. Remember, everyone has a story, and chances are you have no idea what makes the jerk-of-the-day so difficult. Difficult people are difficult to everyone, so don't take it personally. Deal with jerks with poise, not poison.

Do you present problems without solutions?

When a problem comes up in your department and you bring it to you supervisor's attention, pose a solution at the same time. Sure, your manager's job is to solve problems, but make it your job, too. Proving you are a problem solver is the first step to being considered for a position that involves problem solving... like Lead Phlebotomist or Phlebotomy Supervisor. Even if you're happy with your current position, helping to solve problems is the hallmark of a team player. Should there come a time when staffing needs to be cut, team players are the last to be considered.

Do you take on extra work?

There's no rule that says you must only perform those tasks within your job description. What do you do when you're not drawing blood? If you're cleaning your department, stocking trays and draw stations, neatening up all those things that make your work area messy, and performing tasks everyone else avoids, then you have a right to be optimistic about your career and your job security. If you sit and chat, surf the Internet, tap dance your fingers incessantly on your smart phone, or conduct any other time-killing activities, you don't. If you can't find anything to tidy up, ask your manager for a menial task that will bore you to tears. If it has to be done, it has to be done. Every moment of your work day can't be filled with joyful activities. That's why they call it "work."

Do you shun gossip?

Nothing erodes morale like hearsay. It's not just telling gossip that makes you guilty. In order for gossip to be gossip, there must be ears willing to listen. If those ears are mounted on your head, you're contributing. How do you know if it's gossip? Here's the test: if it's second-hand information of a personal or trivial nature that creates a negative impression of that person, it's gossip. Get up and walk away. If you're brave enough, comment on the nature of the conversation being inappropriate in the workplace. Prepare to be ostracized by gossipers and held in higher regard by everyone else. If you are a party to gossip, you're contributing to a destructive workplace environment.

Are you a living example of your facility's mission statement?

If so, you have a tall ladder to climb with slip-proof rungs. If not, the steps of your career ladder with that employer are greased, and you're likely to come crashing down. If your ambition is based on serving others, expect to be well-fed with opportunity. Self-serving ambition, on the other hand, can't be fed for very long before it gives you bad breath.

If you did well on this assessment, chances are you are career-ladder material. Even if you're not striving for a higher position, mastering these elements will make you a cherished and valued employee in the eyes of those who pull the strings. They're the same people who cut the strings, turning the employed into the unemployed. Should the economic climate force your managers to consider a staff reduction, valued employees keep their jobs.

If you want to take this self-appraisal a bit further, take Dale Dauten's "Promotability Index" assessment online.


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