Issues And Answers On Improving Staff Morale And Efficiency

By Lynn Homisak, PRT

   If you have tried to work with this individual but are unsuccessful in altering the outcome, then you need to start analyzing whether or not your practice is a good fit for this employee.

   Recognize the importance of matching certain jobs to personalities. If people enjoy what they are doing, they will do it well but this works in the reverse as well.

How To Handle Insubordination

   Q: I have one assistant who is always on her cell phone. I have told her I do not approve. She will let up for a while but she eventually falls back into her old habits. What are my options in dealing with her insubordination?

   A: When you have a written office policy in place that has been distributed to each employee, it should be clear which behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable in your office. If your employees occasionally use their cell phones to connect with a family member during a time that is not disrupting office flow, perhaps you may allow some leeway by establishing reasonable rules for acceptable cell phone use. However, if a particular employee is always on the phone and it interferes with his or her job, then “abuse of cell phone privilege” should be a focus of your policy. Either way, one should make employees aware of the sanctions for non-compliance. If productivity continues to be affected, then you should reconsider these incidences of use as being a cause for reprimand or perhaps dismissal.

   If you have not yet developed an employee manual for your practice, it is never too late. Identify what policies you want to create, review them with (and ask for input from) your staff to make sure they appreciate the importance of each one. Ask if they have any questions and then require them to sign off on it as an indication that they understand and will adhere to the contents. Finally, give them a copy for their reference and provide them with any updates as they develop.

   Once you have initiated certain policies, it is important to enforce them in a consistent manner. Otherwise, the policies will not be taken seriously.

Secrets To Selling Staff On New Ideas

   Q: I was so excited to implement an electronic scheduler in our office, but when it finally arrived, my staff made no effort to learn how to use it. Much to my dismay, they are still using an appointment book. How can I convince them this will be better?

   A: Accepting new ideas is never easy. In fact, depending on how new ideas are presented, staff can easily interpret them as more work. The human response is to resist change if the pain of moving from Point A is greater than the pleasure of arriving at Point B. How will they know it is painful if they don’t try? It is a good question but the reasons for reluctance could be different for everyone. Maybe they see it as moving out of their comfort zone or that it requires more time and energy than they feel they have to give.

   Whatever the case, one should take a teaching approach with new ideas. If you have no idea how this new system works, how do you expect others to buy into it? Talk up the benefits for the staff. Explain how implementing an electronic scheduler will make it easier for them to manage appointment times. If possible, it is wise to get other people (who already use the system) involved. When new employees or existing staff hear testimonials from fellow staff, they are more likely to be convinced of the new idea’s value.

   Letting employees feel like they are part of the change also goes a long way toward implementing the change. Once they become familiar with it, they will become more comfortable with it and before long, the new way will be the norm.

Ms. Homisak is a licensed podiatric radiology technologist and has been a podiatric medical assistant for 33 years. She is a team partner and practice management consultant with Secrets of Success (SOS) Healthcare Management Solutions, LLC. Ms. Homisak is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Academy of Podiatric Practice Management. She has lectured nationally and internationally to both doctors and assistants on motivational and management-related staff issues, and has published numerous articles on associated topics.

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