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Become Your Practice's “Coach”
Establish a proper training program for your greatest asset — your staff.
Richard S. Kattouf, O.D., D.O.S.
Q For years you have given advice on rules, regulations and standard-operating procedures. As a practice owner, I agree. The problem is that I get tremendous resistance from staff. Any suggestions?
Dr. D.L. Visit via e-mail
A: There are so many dynamics involved in staff training, standard-operating procedures and general behavior. In comparing the employee pool through the past two decades, there are some glaring changes that are germane to your question:
► Many current-day employees use technology for personal use on the owner's time.
► The turnover of medical employees is frequent. In my own client database, the average length of employment is two years. This requires consistent training, which is taxing on the owner.
► Today's balance of working and rearing children is difficult for both the employee and employer.
► Many staffers lack an understanding of the business of optometry, which creates an atmosphere of frustration. Optometric practices cannot guarantee annual raises, paid-time-off and medical coverage. The expectation that each worker gets greater compensation each year in a managed care environment is not realistic. The increases in income must be tied to a commission earned or merited — these are not guaranteed.
All the above factors affect the employee's performance. So, how can you implement the policies of your organization?
Owners must realize that staffers are their greatest asset. The owner has an obligation to be the “coach” of the organization. They must assess each employee's talent(s) and be sure those talents match the employee's position. For example, do not place an extraverted employee with hostess qualities in a cubicle to perform billing and coding duties. An employee with such qualities would be better suited as a receptionist.
The owner must have an inhouse training program. Do not make the mistake of assigning new employees to varsity staffers. This method may wear down the performance and morale of the trainer.
Many people enter an organization as “followers.” It is the obligation of the owner to develop some leadership skills in every employee.
Some suggestions to develop leadership:
► Have organizational meetings each morning prior to patients presenting for appointments. Have employees present certain subjects, such as cross-training. It makes them more confident and exhibits their command of office information. Fellow employees develop a higher level of respect for the presenter.
► Meet with each employee and listen to their needs. Try to satisfy some of the requests in return for their leadership and acceptance of your standard-operating procedures
► Create a happy, pleasant atmosphere. The owner must be an enthusiastic leader.
► Inform employees that you will grant reasonable demands when possible.
Finally, recognize that leadership, proper training and behavior must be developed through an “in-house” program. Do not expect staffers to learn through the ventilation system. OM
|DR. KATTOUF IS PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF TWO MANAGEMENT AND CONSULTING COMPANIES. FOR INFORMATION, CALL (800) 745-EYES, OR E-MAIL HIM AT ADVANCEDEYECARE@HOTMAIL.COM. THE INFORMATION IN THIS COLUMN IS BASED ON ACTUAL CONSULTING FILES.|