The biggest stress in an established practice is staff management. Working with people is hard, and as I write this, countless client stories pop into my head. I must admit, I think I’ve heard it all: This associate said this. The CA won’t do that. And you won’t believe what the therapy assistant did!
But how is it that some people have a fraction of the employee problems others have? What do they know that others don’t? This article will help you get top performance from each employee and cut the stress of management in half. The following strategies and tips will reduce employee problems, uncomfortable confrontations and the wasted time of rehiring and retraining – only to fire and start again.
As part of my credentials, I’ve coached well over 1,000 offices on staff issues, had more than 10 highly profitable offices of my own, managed multiple companies and staffs in a wide variety of businesses, AND I’ve had key positions filled for 20-plus years.
First, it’s a lot easier to manage when you are leading, so share your practice vision and practice goals with your staff. After decades of teaching chiropractors and staffs, I can tell you that CAs long for their doctor to cast a vision for the future. This lets them see how their job fits into the big picture. It’s your job as clinic owner to clarify and share your vision for where the practice is going and it’s their job to make the best contribution to your vision. It’s clean, honest and direct.
Second, you can’t manage employees if you aren’t willing to confront problems. However, you can make confrontation half as hard right off the bat by fixing four common mistakes:
Mistake #1: Failure to outline and discuss in detail how each employee needs to treat their job, the practice, patients and co-workers.
Solution: Write out your wants, desires and standards into an employee office policy. Let everyone know what behavior you expect and how we all will treat the job, practice, patients and each other. Have each employee read and sign it.
Example: I don’t believe facial piercing is appropriate in a chiropractic clinic. I clearly mention that in my office policy. Additionally, I don’t want people coming to me to borrow against future pay checks. That’s mentioned too. Write up your own office policy and go over it with every employee. It does not guarantee perfection, but lays a foundation for successful employee management.
Mistake #2: Failure to completely outline the job duties for the employee.
Solution: Write up a detailed job description, including the tough parts of the job, even if only done on rare occasion.
Example: New hires are typically excited about a new job and willing to embrace the entire position and all responsibilities. I include a section at the end on how the job description may change without notice based on clinic goals and the needs of the practice. I explain that concept carefully and have the employee sign it.
Mistake #3: Confusing poor management with being nice. Some doctors tell me they’re just “too nice” to be effective managers, but it isn’t that they’re too nice. “Nice” is when you feel you can do anything you want and you choose to change a policy for the good of the practice vision and or the staff.
Too nice is code for fear of confrontation. When you fail to confront because you feel compelled to give in to an employee who needs correction, it isn’t being nice – it’s bad management. Here’s where poor management compounds your stress: If you let a rule slide three times (because you’re “too nice”) you have created new policy and given the signal that the boss is powerless. “I’m so nice, why do they take advantage of me?” Because you’re “too nice.”
A client told me that he cured himself of “too nice” with a simple mental adjustment: He substitutes the word weak for nice. He hates being weak and just thinking about it differently gives him the right attitude to make the right choice.
Solution: IF the employee problem is knowledge or a procedure problem – re-train. IF it’s an attitude problem, take them back to the signed office policy and or the job description.
Example: “We have clearly outlined this in the office policy and in your job description. The person who has your job shows up on time (or whatever the infraction). If that person is you, you need to start showing up on time now. IF you can’t be here on time, you need to tell me now.” The ball is in their court. NEVER think that ignoring bad behavior will eliminate it. It sanctions it. By the way, if they can’t be on time, find someone who will. It may be hard, but it’s that simple.
Mistake #4: Failure to provide ongoing training in every position in the office. Staff can get off track or can’t remember who the boss is if you won’t consistently train – even after they know the position.
Solution: Weekly office meetings where you run drills.
Example: I built a chain of very profitable chiropractic offices that run like little Swiss watches because I am committed to training and checking up on performance. Remember, you don’t get what you expect – you get what you train for and continue to inspect.
Live by these rules and you’ll have a fraction of your current employee stress and enjoy your practice much more than you do now.