Every NFL franchise reports to training camp with the same goal in mind, and the same outlook. They want to win, and believe that their staff, starters, and bench players have the potential to bring the Vince Lombardi trophy home to their respective cities. However, potential isn’t easily quantified. For some it’s obvious; others, a bit more confounding.
Of course, there is no championship of private medicine. The best two practices in America do not square off in a fabricated triage to decide who provides superior care. There is no gold-plated Staff of Hermes to hang practice’s trophy case. Still, every practice begins a New Year expecting to thrive, and to remain competitive in their respective market. To this end, head physicians and leaders in management must identify and acquire resources that will ensure their continued success. They may also need to attempt to change, or to eliminate whatever it was that may have stood in the way of their success over the last 365 days.
Making roster moves
It’s no secret. The medical field is experiencing a physician shortage. We’ve touched upon how important hiring right is for a practice in previous posts, but it’s not easy to do without a rich field of talent to choose from. While experience may be a desirable trait for most hiring managers, it is unwise to count out residents. Don’t think of recent med-school grads as “round-2” selections. They are your first-round draft picks, your prime investment in the future of your practice. As such, superior scouting is paramount. In the interview process, ask every revealing question you can. Really try to gauge their personality, and temperament. Give them the benefit of a dry-run at your practice. These few days will function as a combine of sorts, to watch their abilities in action.
When courting the youngest and brightest, you must also remember that they know the position they are in. They can bargain for what they want. We already discussed what the current generation of medical practitioners value above all else. It isn’t wise to fight this, or to lure them with false visions of what the average work day at your practice is like. In the old days, the average physician changed jobs about twice in their entire career. New physicians figure to match this number within their first five years. Retention is key. Make sure a young hire knows not only the culture of your practice, but its trajectory in the coming years. Will your compensation model be changing? What about care delivery?
Making the good better
This next point applies to both your new “star” hires and your veteran staff. Think about the best performers at your practice, or the ones with the highest talent ceilings. You know who they are. What you should also know is that they may not continue their improvement and operate at their highest potential simply by showing up for work each day.
The growth of a worker is an ongoing and very active process. It is also one you must be involved in. Are you taking the time to teach and mentor them so they can eventually assume more advanced leadership roles and responsibilities? Are there opportunities for them to learn at your practice, ways to add new skills, and deepen the ones they already have? These opportunities and resources are keys in the present toward realizing your practice’s goals, and securing its expansion in the future. Make sure you have room for them in your budget.
This same plan applies to both your average, and lackluster performers. In the case of the former, schedule a meeting to ascertain their current knowledge and skill level. Then, point them in the direction of specific resources (digital, print, and otherwise) designed to address gaps, and which they can access on their own time, at their own pace. In a follow-up meeting, ask this worker what other additional support they may need going forward. Sometimes, people find it difficult to initiate change, or in this case, improvement, because they don’t know how or where to start. You will be providing that starting point, and showing them you care about the end-result.
When approaching the issue of poor performer, remember the old adage about those who make assumptions. There could be a number of reasons why they haven’t been performing their duties as well in the last year. Make sure you schedule the time with them to find out what these reasons may be. These employees may benefit from another type of coaching meant to focus, empower, and build their confidence back up. You do not necessarily have to fill this kind of roll. It can be delegated to someone else with the necessary skills, or filled from the outside.
Making changes when necessary
Sometimes, despite how many times you’ve tried to accomplish something, it never quite pans out. This can go on for a long time until you, as the head of your practice, realize one difficult truth: It’s not about drilling the prescribed route over and over again to perfection. It’s about realizing that running that route, and others just like it, will never get you to where you need to be. The playbook is out of date, and a major shift is needed in the way you get things done.
Even if your staff agrees that the old plays are ineffective, they may be highly resistant to change. It means learning a new way to use their skills, to change something that hasn’t been changed in a long time. Don’t let this deter you. Change is painful, but necessary. There will be those among you who are more pliable, more open to change. Designate them your coordinators.
The most difficult changes to make, the ugliest in fact, do not involve procedure. They involve personnel. Negativity, standoffishness, and narcissism are as toxic to your practice as resistance to change. One person exhibiting these traits on a regular basis can destroy what it is you are trying to build. Cuts become a necessary evil. If you’ve made your practice a place where team-players thrive, where they can grow and evolve, where leadership is understanding and accessible, where rewards and reprimands are administered fairly, and in a professional manner, then you’ve done all you can. No matter how skilled or indispensable a volatile employee may seem, they’ve got to go.
Have a great day!
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