You can’t do everything yourself. That’s why you assemble a team around you to help deliver care to the patients who come through your practice. The most efficient practices have every team member working at peak performance levels. In an efficient practice, doctors delegate as much as possible to competent well-trained, staff members. Effectively managing a team involves a lot more than just assigning tasks.
Looking at your doctors and team members, do you have the right person in the right job?
People development solutions are used by 88 percent of Fortune 500 companies. To most effectively manage your team you need to make an investment in your human capital by profiling each job within the practice and then profiling all of your doctors and team members. You are looking for the strengths and weaknesses of each team member, then you are looking for keys in identifying how they will work in the specific job as well how they will interact with other team members.
Personality tests are among the best techniques for identifying staff members’ strengths and weaknesses and their aptitude for specific positions. Many are available. The one most validated by science is The Big Five, the one most enjoyed by young people is the Enneagram, the one most used by businesses is Myers-Briggs, and the oldest is The 4 Temperaments.
While the 16 personality types identified by Myers-Briggs is a lot to keep track of in a busy practice, The Big Five is backed by better science and has only five personality types. One of the personality traits this particular test measures is conscientiousness, ranging on a spectrum from impulsive/disorganized to disciplined/careful.
Using personality tests such as this one can help determine if a candidate is appropriate for a particular position with your practice. Consider the job of bookkeeper. Two candidates apply for the job. They both look similar according to their resumes, but their personality tests tell a different story. From a personality perspective, John is a fun guy. He does not seem very detail oriented. He scores low on conscientiousness in The Big Five. Jill, on the other hand, scores high on conscientiousness. Since the position of bookkeeper is a very detail-oriented job, Jill will fit this position far better than John will. Could John hold the position of bookkeeper? Possibly, but you can predict that there will be many organizational and detail issues that will come up while he holds that position.
One of the best ways to determine if you have the right person in the right job is using one of the many personality tests available.
Do you have a flowchart describing how a patient moves through your practice and what you expect from your staff members at each stopping place?
Each time the patient stops as they move through your practice, something happens. For example, when the patient stops at the reception desk, a staff member asks questions the patients must answer before proceeding.
By creating a flowchart describing how a patient moves through your practice, focusing on what the patient should expect from each of your staff members at each stopping place, you can make sure that nothing is overlooked.
Reception is just one example of the many “stops” throughout the practice. Make sure your flowchart contains at least the following “stops”:
• examination room
• ancillary testing
• optical dispensary
Does every doctor and team member know what they “produce” for the practice?
There is a major difference between process and product. The following scenarios should help illustrate that difference.
Bethany: “Ann, tell me what you produce for Dr. Williams’ practice.”
Ann: “I’m in charge of contacting patients who have previously been in the practice and reminding them that the doctor prescribed they need to return this month for care.”
Ann described her job in terms of process. She explained what she does, not what she produces. In the following dialogue, Ann describes what she produces.
Bethany: “Ann, tell me what you produce for Dr. Williams’ practice.”
Ann: “Dr. Williams prescribes when established patients are to return for care, and it is my job to make sure they actually do that.”
What’s the difference between the two conversations? In the first example, Ann just reminds patients that they need to return. In her other explanation, Ann views her job as getting those patients into the doctor’s chair. Now, which job does the owner want to pay for? It should be obvious that the latter scenario is much more valuable to the practice.
Every person working in the practice produces something. Some people produce multiple things. The key is that every single person, including the doctors, should understand what they produce for the practice. How do you achieve this? If you’ve never discussed this with your team before, then this is a great office meeting to have. Invite each person to identify what they produce. Then the group, with the owner’s guidance, can coach each person to the correct answer.
Dr. Williams: “Dr. Samson, what do you produce for the practice?”
Dr. Samson: “I produce high quality examinations and expertly delivered case consultations.”
Dr. Williams: “That sounds more like what you do than what you produce. What is it that you want to happen for the patient if you do a high quality exam and deliver an excellent case consultation?”
Dr. Samson: “Well, I want the patient to get the care that I prescribed.”
Dr. Williams: “Now, that sounds to me more like what your end product is.”
After this exercise has been performed, the descriptions that develop should be included for each position described. That way, any new person working for the practice starts with an understanding of exactly what they produce for the practice.
Do you have an effective reporting system for managing doctors and team members?
What each staff member produces for the practice should be measurable. In the example above, we can count how many patients actually return each month for an examination. Similarly, in the case of Dr. Samson, we can count how many patients actually followed through their treatment plans.
Identifying each job in the practice according to what should be produced and quantifying the result clearly shows how well each doctor and team member is performing. It also indicates who needs help to better manage their job.
This approach removes the subjectivity from performance reviews. The numbers measure the performance, so there is no playing favorites. Staff members either produced or did not produce. A numbers-based reporting system also makes goal setting much easier.
Posting results in a location of the practice where all team members can see everyone’s performance taps into the positive power of peer pressure. This encourages teamwork by allowing discussions during office meetings about helping each other produce better results.
With this system you can identify two levels: in-control and out-of-control. When the team member is hitting or surpassing their production goals, they are in-control. When they are not hitting their production goals, they are out-of-control.
How do you handle a team member who is in-control? Have them work on efficiency and effectiveness. What can they do in their job to be more efficient (in fewer steps) and more effective (to create more product)?
How do you handle a team member who is out-of-control? You must change something. Obviously, what they are doing is not working.
Are you effectively managing “employee churn”?
The data about the risk of employee turnover is shocking.
• Only 33 percent of employees intend to remain in their current positions. (Achievers Workforce Institute, 2021)
• 64 percent of employees report thinking about quitting their jobs. Of which, 13 percent do so constantly. (Zippia, 2020)
• 51 percent of workers are actively looking for job opportunities at any given time. (The Digital Group, 2020)
• 40 percent of employees have impulsively resigned at some point in their professional lives. (Zippia, 2020)
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that younger people move from job to job more frequently. As people get older, they tend to stay in their job longer. The data also show that people with higher educational degrees tend to stay in their job longer. The following chart gives you the raw data.