#173 from R&D Innovator Volume 4, Number 8          August 1995

FORUM—from our readers

Is the Coordinator Necessary?

I've been running an analytical services group that supports five laboratories in a large company.  I’ve had this job five years, and the feedback has consistently been very good.  I’ve even received an Outstanding Service Award.  I'm well-organized and assure that the tests are completed on time and on schedule—even when the frequent “emergency” comes up.  One of the most pleasurable aspects of the job is when researchers tell me directly that they appreciate my efforts.  It was a great job—until....

At a high administrative level, someone made a decision that my group needed a Coordinator.  This was a surprise not only to me, but to everyone in my client laboratories.  No one had seen the need for a Coordinator and no one asked me if there was such a need.  The notice we received was that my group would soon be managed by a Coordinator, and I would report to that person.

When I asked my current supervisor about this, he said that Administration thought it would be a good idea.  And, anyway, it would initially just be for a trial period.  I asked, "How long?"—but received no response.  I had a terrible time thinking that I was about to be let go, replaced by a Coordinator who was to do what I've been doing (successfully).

Well, the Coordinator soon arrived.  Turns out that she's the wife of a vice president who was recently hired.  The rumor has it that in order to sign this new guy up, the company promised to find a job for her.  So, here she was, my new boss—and without any experience in running (or even working in) a laboratory!

She didn't waste any time.  A large blackboard was set up in which each request for analysis was outlined with date of request, type of analysis, and date results were due.  I had no problem with that.  Previously, I had that information in a notebook that was open for anyone to check. 

The problems started when someone wanted to change a protocol or ask if the results could be made available sooner than originally requested.  Madam Coordinator made an absolute rule:  No changes without getting approval from her!  But she was nowhere to be found a good part of each day.  Everyone’s grumbling now about the services of my (her) group.  What we now have is another barrier to the group’s effectiveness. 

I'm really angry.  My company gets only one benefit from her; that is, retaining the new vice president.  But my company doesn't seem to appreciate that they waste money on her position, and that a truly dedicated and quality person (me) is looking for another job (certainly not in this company).  I haven't told anyone that I’m job hunting.  I know that the researchers who use my analytical services will go livid.  They don't like this Coordinator running the show, knowing nothing about testing, research, or lab management.

It's interesting that our company has been stressing quality the last couple of years (you know, “internal customer satisfaction”).  Clearly, the quality of managing the analytical services has been ignored.

I wonder how valuable her husband is to the company?  Sure would be a shame if he turns out not to be a key player!  It’s yet one more example—of many I have read in this section of R&D Innovator—in which higher administrators demonstrate their lack of interest a happy and effective work environment.  Perhaps they are too “high up” to care.

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