Your Healthcare Practice:  How to Manage Your Staff and Keep Your Headaches to a Minimum

Character is the major trait of an effective leader. What decisions you make and how you make them filter down to your staff, and affects how your patients do and how they perceive you and your practice.


Character is the major trait of an effective leader. What decisions you make and how you make them filter down to your staff, and affects how your patients do and how they perceive you and your practice.

  • Empower your staff, don’t micromanage them. Provide clear and consistent feedback. Celebrate your staff’s achievements publicly so everyone can see, and discipline their shortcomings quietly and in private. Criticize the behavior, not the individual.

  • Listen to input from your staff and employees. They should be encouraged to provide input to your plans that will help achieve your practice’s goals. Lead, don’t dictate — be a leader, not a dictator. Manage from the bottom up — the people who have to implement your plans may have better ideas on how to implement them because they’re the ones who have to do it.

  • Be realistic. Employees are not machines and do not operate as consistently as machines. Everyone has a bad day.

  • Be fiscally responsible. Know how your practice’s finances work. Be on top of what’s going on both medically and financially.

  • Focus on the present and the future. Staff meetings are about creating a dialogue with your staff. Understand what’s going on now and how it can affect future actions.

  • Don’t ask your staff to do things you would not be willing to do yourself. Pitch in on the miserable jobs if you have time — lead by example.

  • Pay attention to communication styles — yours and your staff’s. Not all people communicate the same way. Some people require repetition and follow-up; others feel that repetition is nagging and means you don’t trust them to do the job. Some people require regular feedback on their performance (minute by minute, hour by hour) while others don’t want any comment until they are completed. Being aware of the differences will make life easier and smoother for everyone involved.

  • Become a proactive listener. Don’t just hear . . . listen!

  • Remember the Golden Rule and its corollary, the Bounce-Back Rule: Whatever you dish out . . . bounces back! (What goes around, comes around).

  • Verbal communication is only about 40% of communication. Remember eye contact, body language, voice intonation, volume and inflection.

  • And finally, be your staff’s advocate and protector. Remember, great leaders don’t just lead and create a direction; they create an umbrella of safety for the people they are leading. Many employees say they don’t mind if their boss is demanding if they know he or she values them, recognizes that value and defends them to others. This places the leader in a different role than just “boss” or “employer” but reminds you that these people — their jobs, their welfare, and well-being and yes, even happiness, are your responsibility.

 

 

 

 

“Manage from the bottom up — the people who have to implement your plans may have better ideas on how to implement them because they’re the ones who have to do it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHO’S THE FIRST MATE?

By now you’ve hired your staff, you’re seeing patients and things are progressing. You are the captain of your ship, so to speak, but you can’t do everything. You’re busy doing that thing that brings in money — being a doctor.

So, although you need to know what’s going on in your office, you really need someone to depend on to monitor and oversee the day-to-day operations of your practice. In keeping with the ship metaphor, you’re looking for a first mate (or executive officer).

Typically, this person is your office manager or administrator. One of the first impulses of a boss is to promote people that are just like themselves. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Often a doctor will promote the employee they like the most, who may not necessarily be the best person for the job.

Something that is often forgotten about our office managers — and our staff in general — is that they are not assistants or backroom staff. They are professionals and an extension of you. So one of the key ingredients you should look for in an office manager is: professionalism. Another: Willingness to learn. They will need to set an example for the rest of the staff, because a practice that doesn’t grow and change with demands is likely to wither and die.

Don’t hire a “yes man.” This is a huge temptation, often subconscious, because, after all, you tend to like people that agree with you all the time. But, there is a difference between someone who constantly disagrees with you and has a negative attitude and someone who speaks their own mind and gives you their honest opinion. You definitely will benefit from someone who will tactfully let you know when they think you’re not doing something right.

And perhaps most of all, look for someone who can handle the responsibility.

THOUGHTS ON PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FOR STAFF

Just as it’s important for you, the physician, to be a lifelong learner, take part in continuing education, read journals and attend conferences, it’s important that your staff stay educated and informed on what’s going on in the field as well. After all, every aspect of healthcare is undergoing change these days, some of it quite dramatic. Nurses have a number of professional organizations they can and often do belong to.

There are also a number of educational opportunities for staff, whether it’s classes in coding, billing, office management, or computer technology or conferences and seminars that would be valuable for them to attend. Encouraging your staff to participate in these opportunities can emphasize that you feel they are professionals and part of their professional responsibility is to continue to educate themselves in their field.

Action Step: List personality traits you possess that will make you a good leader and write your plans for the next 12 months, which should be reviewed on a regular basis. Ask everyone in your office to anonymously write what they feel your strengths and weaknesses are as a leader (and be sure to have tissues in hand!)

 

 

cdn.shopify.comsfiles115898687products31-essentials-for-running-your-medical-practice_grandeExcerpted from 31 ½ Essentials for Running Your Medical Practice by Dr. John Giuliana and Dr. Hal Ornstein.

 

 

 

 

 

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