A Vital Aspect Of A Medical Practice That Practice Managers Cannot Afford To Overlook

A wise person once said, “a gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flair.” Therefore, the best way to dismantle anger, frustration, disorderly, disruptive or unruly people, is by employing respect, candor and kindness.

When we talk about managing our practices more efficiently, we think about negotiating with insurance companies, proper coding, practice financials, revenue per visit, E&M code distributions and a bunch of other objective things.

I find it interesting, however, that we put so much focus on maximizing revenue and minimizing cost, but ignore a topic that far consumes our time. And arguably is more important to the “health” of a pediatric practice than the things we consider “best-practices.”

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The topic I’m referring to is “people.” Specifically employee and parent/patient interactions.

Poorly managing how people interact with one another can have far-reaching consequences and be far more devastating than say, a bad payor contract. But how much time do we spend on honing interaction with people of our practices?

Medical practices revolve around people. We all know that we spend more time with co-workers than we do with our families. And due to the nature of our business we are engaging with people hundreds of times a day.

Most of these interactions go without notice, but many result in conflict. And the ones that result in a conflict (all it takes is just one) carry the potential to rip through the fabric of your practice.

LET’S TALK ABOUT A CONFLICT FREE WORKPLACE

The unhealthy tension in a workplace is disruptive and highly counterproductive. Unresolved conflict ruins a company culture. And a weak company culture is like a bad cough. You can’t hide it.

Consequently, addressing tension in the workplace is just as important if you want your practice environment to be a collaborative, mission-driven, high performing practice.

HERE IS WHY THIS MATTERS TO YOU AND YOUR PRACTICE

Happy employees enhance the company’s culture. Content, conflict free employees make for a better workplace, as well as create a pleasant experience for parents/patients visiting the practice.

All this translates to patient/parent satisfaction.

TIME TO EXAMINE

Now, think about how your practice employee treat unruly parents? Does you or staff become defensive or perhaps condescending? Do you unintentionally patronize them using tone, language or body language?

How about coworkers or your practice partners? During conflicts, do you push back as hard or harder as they push you? Are you passive aggressive? Do you have contempt for them? Are there harbored resentments, unaddressed conflicts, unsettled disputes?

THE FIRST STEP

Now, disagreements, arguments, tension, miscommunications, hurt feelings, etc. are unavoidable. The only way to eliminate those kinds of issues is to live by yourself (and even then you have to deal with yourself). We will always have issues with parents, co-workers, partners, and vendors. It’s just part of working with people.

But the key to a conflict-free workplace lies in how each of us reacts to the tension.

Our behavior during or after the conflict will ultimately determine if the issue perpetuates or is resolved.
Think about someone you don’t like. It could be a co-worker or even a relative. Now think about how your behavior is affecting the relationship. Is your behavior making things better or worse?

THE SECOND STEP

When things get emotional and, conversations go from casual to critical, the worst of us usually comes out. Pushing back starts us down a bad path that is often hard to recover from.

We know that being defensive, condescending -or my favorite, sarcastic- doesn’t lead to a path of resolution. But these three things do set us up on the right path:

Respect, Candor & Kindness

Sounds simple. Too simple in fact. But what is the alternative?

A wise person once said, “a gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flair.” Therefore, the best way to dismantle anger, frustration, disorderly, disruptive or unruly people, is by employing respect, candor and kindness.

I’m not suggesting this is easy. Some people get on our nerves. You may even feel the urge to provide too much candor. Other situations are unfair and responding with respect and kindness is difficult. And the truth is some don’t deserve your respect.

But even so, fighting fire with fire doesn’t make things better. But fighting fire with water gives us a chance to resolve.

So the next time things start to get heated with a parent or even a coworker remember, that how we approach a conflict will largely determine the outcome.

How Do You Best Motivate Employees?

iStock_000004504118XSmall-423x281Despite our efforts to recognize staff members for their outstanding work, the feedback we often get is that employees don’t feel appreciated enough. In other words, we appreciate our practice’s team members, but they don’t feel we recognize their work enough.

Apparently, this is not something unique to our practice. I’ve read research that shows that most employee leave a company because they don’t feel their bosses appreciate their hard work, commitment or dedication.

Research has also shown that when employees leave a job, many times it isn’t the money. Workers reveal that raises and promotions are great, of course, but what they would really like, is to feel valued. And not feeling valued enough is what led them to leave the jobs.

At the bookstore the other day, I came across a book titled The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman and Paul White. If you ever have attended a marriage seminar, you may have heard of Gary Chapman before. He is the author of the popular book The 5 Love Languages.

The title intrigued me so I bought the book.

The authors of the book discuss that in the work place, people have different ways in which they feel appreciated. Some employees like it when their boss acknowledges them publicly for a job well done, while others would prefer a gesture of recognition done privately.

Others feel appreciated when co-workers or managers step in to ease the burden of their work load, while others feel special when they are able to spend time with their bosses and be heard.

Another example the authors illustrate is the employee that is publicly recognize in front of the entire company time and time again for his outstanding work. During the recognition, his boss goes on and on about how great the employee is and that if it weren’t for him, the company would have failed in that area.

Sounds like a great way to show appreciation, right?

As it turns out the employee feels uncomfortable having the spot light shining on him and receiving public praise. His appreciation language is actually what the authors describe as “acts of service” which is when the person feels appreciated when others recognize the overwhelming amount of work he does and offers to help him out.

Understanding how each of your co-workers, team members, employees or partners are wired in terms of how they feel appreciated, is just one of the many ways that can help an organization increase the level of job satisfaction.

It also increases employee engagement by making staff feel truly valued. Not to mention that it reduces cynicism which creates a positive work and productive working environment.

I would encourage you to pick up the book. It was a very easy read and I’ve even started implementing some of the things I learned with great results. The book even offers a questionnaire for employees so that you can find out what is each employee’s appreciation language.

To learn more about this book, check out the link below:

http://www.appreciationatwork.com/