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It's a wisdom shared by all experienced lab owners: managerial skills don't always go hand-in-hand with technical skills. Knowing that, how can you identify the right people for department management positions? There's no formula that guarantees success, but you can make an informed choice by defining the leadership skills the manager needs to succeed, and using them to evaluate each candidate. For example:
Top-notch technical skills. Lab owners say technical proficiency is a given when hiring technical managers. Not only is it necessary for practical duties like quality control or troubleshooting, but it goes a long way in earning the respect of the others in their department.
Attitude. This is a big factor, and a critical one since it's difficult to train someone to have a better attitude. Ask yourself: does this person share your values and standards? How would you define his work ethic? Does he have an innate desire to do his best?
People/communication skills. A good manager must be capable of forging relationships and working with a team. Look for the technician who wants to share his knowledge with others--not the one who wants to be the best at the expense of others in the department. Also, can he effectively communicate techniques and ideas? Is he a good listener?
Stress management skills. Is the technician capable of handling stress or disharmony? You need managers who can stay calm, focused and positive under pressure. Feeling stressed is understandable; it's how he handles the pressure that you need to evaluate.
Organizational skills. Look for technicians who know how to plan their day's workload, set deadlines for themselves, and seek out ways to increase efficiency. In short, you want candidates who work "smart." Having these skills will make it easier for them to multi-task and juggle the varied responsibilities that come with a management role.
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