As a physician running a practice, you are a business owner, and as a business owner, making sure to take steps towards improving the quality of your leadership and becoming a better leader is invaluable. Better leadership is what will help maximize efficiency in your practice, achieve your profit goals, motivate and grow your employees, and create a thriving work environment with the positive results you want. 

In this episode of Shorr Solutions: The Podcast, “Top 10 Tips to Becoming a Better Leader in Your Practice”, host Mara Shorr will cover how to handle conflict amongst your team, how to improve your own leadership skills, and what you’re doing WRONG that could be costing you quality staff members.

Becoming A Better Leader:

We are going to go through the top 10 tips to becoming a better leader in your practice.  Some things that we will discuss are how to handle conflict amongst your team, improving your leadership skills, and really identify what it is that you as a leader could be doing wrong that could be costing you those really quality team members.

Tip number one, those ones that you say I couldn’t ever live without this person I don’t ever want them to go anywhere. Keep in mind that a happy employee, i.e. team member, is going to stay longer so you want to make sure you know their goals right off the bat. Is their goal to grow in the practice in five years and while you may not think that that’s possible, think outside the box, how can you help them grow. Are they coming to you with a really strong set of writing skills but honestly, they’re excited to learn more about video? Think about what those things could be and we want you to keep on going.

Number two, know each team member’s comfort level with technology. We want to make sure that we’re staffing and hiring accordingly. Make sure you’re not saying, “oh, that this person is a millennial and therefore because they’re a millennial they automatically are amazing with technology so they’re going to rock that Excel spreadsheet and give me strong panels.” It doesn’t work like that. You want to ask right off the bat what is their comfort level with technology. Do they know how to use apps on their iPhone if you’re hiring for a marketing position? Are they comfortable using an EMR? If you are looking at any team member in your practice, whether they are provider or non-provider, your entire team needs to be comfortable with your EMR, especially if it’s cloud-based. I encourage you to ask this question, when is it that you’re actually hiring because it’s going to save you a heck of a lot of headache moving forward.

Tip number three, clarify the expectations from the beginning. You want to clarify what their expectations are of you, and what your expectations are of that particular team member. We’ve seen this go wrong so many times when practices don’t take the time to do this. Number one, think about what is your open-door policy? Are your team members able to come in any moment at any time and so, therefore, you feel like you just have a robot holding the door to your office, or do you prefer that they meet with you in the mornings and in the afternoons? This could drive you crazy if you have a team member newly hired and they constantly come to you all the time for questions.

Giving Feedback:

How do you give feedback to them and how do you want them to give feedback to you about any changes or any opportunities for improvement in the practice? Again, is this a one on one meeting, is this a shared group all team meeting? Think about what it is that that looks like, how do you want them to give you feedback because it needs to be a two-way street. You never want to give team members negative feedback in public and you want to find out, is this a team member that thrives on positive feedback in a public setting. I know, Jay Shorr my business partner, and my dad, he does really well in situations like these. He’s a great example, you turn a light on and he just shines if you haven’t seen him lecture already we always joke that if he stands up or the fridge opens up a light he’s going to start talking. We have other people we know that quite honestly, they’re mortified when they’re in the spotlight so you want to think about what that looks like. For all of our new team members here at Shorr solutions, we always ask them what is their love language. So I encourage you to check out the book, five languages of love, and think about what is their love language. Also, think about how do they refer to the providers in public and in private. Is it. Dr. Smith, Dr. Sara, Sara, etc. If that person is a doctor, how are you having them refer to you and clarify that from the beginning, somebody that didn’t come from a medical and a clinical setting, they’re not going to know all of that information? We want to make sure that we don’t get frustrated with them for things that are very common in the medical field that are not common in other communities.

Communication Policy:

Then, what is your communication policy what is your cell phone policy? How often are they allowed to check social media during the course of the day? Are they not, if they don’t have a marketing role for instance, are they allowed to keep their cell phones on them or are they not? We once worked with a practice that we did a site visit and as soon as we showed up we noticed everybody had Apple watches. We said and we asked, What’s going on, did you all buy stock in Apple? Quite honestly they said that the previous week they had banned cell phones on each person’s person, if you will and so the team each individually went out on their own and decided to purchase an Apple Watch. That was okay with the practice owner so you want to establish, especially with evolving technology, the things that are okay with you and what are the things that are not.

Identify Problems In Your Practice:

Identify the issues in your practice. As you’re hiring new team members and on an ongoing basis, why is it that previous employees and previous team members left? How can you solve those issues but make sure the same mistakes don’t happen again? I always encourage you do an exit interview when you have team members that are leaving. Are you finding that there’s one person that your entire team consistently complains about? Are you not taking the time to really connect with your team and therefore they don’t feel that connection to you and they don’t feel that connection to your practice? Are there policies that your team is creating, and you’re not offering health care policies, paid time off policies? Think about what that looks like because those little things can go a long way, your team needs to feel like they’re being heard. If you continuously have team members say well if we’re being completely honest the commute time is just too long, you want to make sure if you hear that again and again, are you hiring team members without asking how far their commute is.

What does your team value?

Tip number five, know what your team values so this ties back into what we were just talking about but the value, no matter who they are they want to be treated with respect. We need to respect them first and foremost as humans and we want to respect them as people. Are they creating more of a work life balance? I find that the younger the team member, the more this is something that they crave. Whether you are a little more old school or whether you are very new age, very modern mindset, think about what this looks like. Not just from your perspective but from your team members perspective. Think about their benefits we talked about health care, we talked about what does that look like for your particular practice. Their benefits could also think outside the box is that their bonus, not just in financial they’re not just bonus dollars but they’re also bonuses in an extra day of PTO, do they get off on their birthday, something that sounds maybe simple to you may not necessarily seem that simple and may be really important to them. I encourage you, simple things that depend on what the vibe of your office is. I’ve seen things like mindfulness meditation, assistant work-life balance, and just happier team members. Tip number six, treat your team like they have other employment options, but that they want to stay with us and today’s workforce is not what it was in January of 2020. It’s so very different, that even though we have seen a lot of practices closed there are still a lot of really great strong practices open right now. Even though there are team members that are, you know, that are there inside your practice keep in mind there’s a lot of people right behind them, and there are openings and they’re strong candidates so we hear this again and again the mark of the workplace is not what it was in 2020, where it was very difficult to hire. Treat your team very strong, but you want to treat them so that they don’t want to go look for that other position that is open and out there right now. We’re hiring for practices all the time so there are positions open.

Handling Conflict:

Tip number seven, learn how to handle conflict in your team and amongst your team. You want to make sure you have that open and honest line of communication with your team. What does that look like, how is feedback offered that’s one of the things that we talked about. When conflict does arrive, you want to make sure you have a strategy on how you’re going to handle it so listen to both sides of the story but you don’t want it to become, he said she said. Don’t just listen to what one party has to say listen to what each party has to say. Honestly, the truth typically lies somewhere in the middle. You want to make sure when you’re handling that conflict conversation with team members you keep the conversation on track, both for you and for those events to different team members on your team. You don’t want to revert back to what happened. Two months ago so and so said this, two months ago so and so did this, that’s not where we want to go. We want to make sure to keep focused on the issue and you want to make sure you’re tracking where the drama stems. We see this all the time, we help our practices through their conflict all the time. We help schedule and we look at what does that meeting schedule look like in your practice.

How are you building company culture, we help with that. What is your employee handbook look like so that everybody is on the same page, and what are your policies and protocols that relate to this. Yes, all the time so if you think that you are the only one that’s dealing with drama serve as a role model for your team. Don’t just tell but show them, show them how to interact with each other, show them how to react to each other. We once visited a practice that quite honestly, the doctor would come into the office and not even say good morning or hello to the rest of their team and that really rubs the team the wrong way. It starts everyone’s day off to a really crummy frustrating start and resentment builds up over time. You want to make sure that you smile when you walk into the office. Dr. Rich Castellano always does an amazing job and amazing talks on this but you want to think about really showcasing that smile, showcasing the positive attitude. People will treat you as you allow them to serve as the role model that is there for your team, not as a pushover I want to make sure everybody understands, we’re not recommending that you become a pushover. You want to make sure you have strong policies in place that serve as a role model for what it is that you expect of your team.

Embrace Your Staff:

Number nine, embrace your staff and your team’s strengths. If that’s social media, if it’s creativity, if it’s people skills. You want to be sure if you have people that have really strong people skills and maybe that’s a really frustrating thing for them right now during COVID, those are the folks you want to put on the phone and have them making outbound calls to your current patients and to your prospective patients. You don’t want to put your most introverted person on your team on the phone, it’s not going to go well. If you have people that they have the gift of gab and they’re great sales but quite honestly, there’s lots of typos in their work. That’s not the person you want on marketing. I want you to go ahead and really think about embracing your team’s strengths and how can you use those to their advantage.

Removing Negativity:

Now, finally tip 10, removing negativity from your office. What do I mean by those things that should never ever be accepted? We once went and visited a client’s practice in person and we were meeting with the practice administrator who was also a PA, who was also the doctor’s wife now. Therefore,  the owner of the practice and the second one of the team members left her office and we saw that team roll their eyes and storm out. These are things that should never be okay so we want to eliminate yelling, eye-rolling, tardiness talking back, and more. These are things that are not acceptable. With that, we are here for you. Let’s get a strong team.

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