As a practice owner, you should be asking yourself the following questions objectively:
- Am I a good leader?
- Do I run from conflict?
- Am I able to motivate my staff?
- Is my office harmonious or is it filled with conflict?
- Does my staff “own” their jobs, or do they just punch in and out?
- Do I ever feel that my staff is “holding me hostage”?
- Am I running my practice? …or is my practice running me?
Did you answer most of those questions favorably? If you’re like the average practice owner, the answer is no. That’s because, like most doctors, you were not trained in leadership and executive skills. Consequently, you will often find yourself in management situations in which you lack certainty about what to do. Insufficient leadership could easily result in poor staff performance, unhappy patients, needless stress and lost income.
Maxim: The Morale of the Staff Is Based Upon Their Individual and Office Production.
Believe it or not, most staff members want to do a good job. They want to improve and they like being acknowledged for a job well done. When one produces a good product, it’s a reflection of his competence. Demonstration of competence raises anyone’s morale. As a leader, you have the opportunity to foster an environment that can bring about ever-increasing competence and morale.
So, how does one become a good leader? Is leadership a personality trait with which only a few are blessed? No! Leadership skills are taught and, with practice, can be put successfully into daily use.
The first quality a good leader has to have is the ability to confront situations, i.e., to face up to them. If you are the type of owner who runs and hides from conflict and staff problems, then you need some improvement in this area. First, decide that you are going to face up to the problem. Simply take a moment and make the decision; this is very helpful.
Next, grab someone — a friend, your spouse or a colleague — and roleplay the problem. Have that person play the part of the troublesome individual, hitting you hard with backtalk, new problems, can’t-be-dones, etc. Be sure to do the drill until you find that you are more confident and even feel somewhat excited to try out your new skills and presentation. You will be surprised at how easily the situation will resolve once you do this. Keep in mind that your staff can’t and won’t follow if you don’t lead.
It is very important for the owner of a practice to maintain excellent communication with his/her staff and to provide active and visible leadership. The following are some key points for the executive.
Communication of Goals
Determine what the purpose, the mission statement, of your practice is and communicate it to your staff. Let them know what the goals for the office are and keep them informed of the programs that you intend to implement to achieve those goals. A well-informed staff will have greater understanding and will be likely to join you in mutual motion.
The implementation and use of basic communication devices is key. These tools can be kept in place by your office manager but must also be reinforced by you as the senior executive. These tools include: written requests or proposals, written office dispatches, written policies, and the use of an effective communication relay system.
It is important that written communication is responded to swiftly. When people do not hear back regarding their communication within a reasonable period of time, they become less willing to communicate. As a result, the business can have more problems on its hands.
It is vital that you ensure that the practice holds a staff meeting once per week. This is one of the most valuable opportunities available to you for educating staff, setting goals and targets, and handling problem areas. The staff as a whole can address such matters. The communication lines within the business will strengthen considerably as well.
The owner and the office manager should continuously strive to establish strong coordination and leadership for the staff. Any problems or disagreements between the owner and office manager should always be sorted out outside of the staff meeting and should never be addressed in the presence of any staff.
Staff meetings are run most effectively if the owner and office manager meet prior to the staff meeting to plan and coordinate the issues to be addressed with the staff.
Setting Goals and Targets
When targeting your weekly and monthly quotas, it is advisable to plan in advance of your staff meeting. You should really confront how much production you did the week/month prior and how much can realistically be produced within the upcoming week/month with expansion in mind. Realistically look at what CAN be done. Then go over it with the rest of your staff at the staff meeting.
Each week you should bring your graphs to the meeting and keep the staff informed as to how the group is doing in approaching their goals.
Group Member Responsibility
The more each staff member takes responsibility for the office as a whole, the better your office will perform. It is very helpful to have each staff member come to the staff meeting prepared to contribute. The owner should support the efforts of the office manager to show the staff the importance of this format and to gain staff compliance. The goal of the executive should be to show the staff how to take on more responsibility and how to contribute to the creativity, growth and expansion of the practice.
To create stability for the practice and to keep the lines straight, it is very important that you continue to implement written policies. There should be a written policy to govern each and every activity in the practice.
When you write a policy, place the original in a Master Policy Manual. The office manager would then distribute a copy to each applicable staff member indicating that the policy is to be read and verification is to be sent to the office manager confirming that this has been done. A copy of the policy would be placed in the Staff Job Description Manual under the General Staff Section.
The office manager can be very helpful in policy development but needs to know exactly what your policies are. Policies can be written and submitted to a lawyer for final approval. The office manager can and should suggest areas where policy is needed. Staff should also be encouraged to propose policy via the office manager.
If you feel you would benefit from a one on one consultation on how to help you with practice management, please fill out the form on this page and we would be more than willing to assist you.