How To Maximize Staff Productivity

By Brian McCurdy, Associate Editor

   From scheduling appointments to answering patient questions to billing, DPMs would be lost without competent and productive staff members. Indeed, having a good support staff is essential to a successful practice. However, with the hustle and bustle of everyday practice, it can be easy for staff to get bogged down in tasks. How can DPMs maximize the productivity of their staff?    Part of increasing productivity involves motivation and Lynn Homisak, PRT, says this requires a keen understanding of each individual, being interested in his or her needs and knowing what makes each member of the staff tick.    Although Homisak cites incentives such as a competitive salary, bonuses, dinner out or event tickets as motivators, each staff member is different and there is no single approach that will work the same for everyone. It is important to take the time to find out what motivates each individual, according to Homisak, a Trustee of the American Academy of Podiatric Practice Management. She says when DPMs do so, their efforts will be far more appreciated and the outcome far more rewarding for all.     “I can assure you that once you make that effort, you will discover that a continuous, long-term circle of output occurs,” she says. “In fact, part of an employee’s enthusiasm to produce more and faster is a result of knowing that his or her doctor or boss cares enough to make it happen.”    While monetary incentives can bolster staff efficiency, John Guiliana, DPM, emphasizes the necessity of linking the incentive to an outcome directly under the employee’s control and within the job description. For example, it would be inappropriate to base a bonus on collections for a staff member who is a floor assistant. He also advises that an incentive plan is “extremely compromised” by not having a concurrent verbal acknowledgement.

Why Simple Gestures Of Appreciation Can Work

   Beyond financial incentives, demonstrating a simple appreciation for staff can make an impact on productivity. Homisak says motivation just needs to be meaningful to the staff member and can sometimes be a simple “thank you” and sincere appreciation. As Dr. Guiliana notes, some DPMs do not acknowledge staff when they have performed a job well done.     “This verbal and public acknowledgment is a crucial behavior modification tool that goes well beyond what monetary rewards can accomplish,” he notes.    Complimenting staff in front of patients can go a long way, according to Hal Ornstein, DPM. “Patients say, ‘I hope you pay her well,’ which is the best compliment,” says Dr. Ornstein, Chairman of the American Academy of Podiatric Practice Management.    On the other hand, he advises against correcting or admonishing staff in front of patients, and encourages DPMs to defend their staff when patients badmouth them. Dr. Ornstein says he will defend his staff and let staff know he defended them. If a staff member is wrong, he says the DPM should talk to him or her but do so outside of the patient’s earshot.

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