It is no secret that the attitude of one’s practice starts at the top with the doctor(s) and trickles down to staff. If the doctor walks into the office in high spirits, smiling and ready to take on the day, that positive energy transfers to his or her staff and then of course, to the patients. On the other hand, a grumpy entrance has a negative spiral down effect. Douglas McGregor (1906-1964), a social psychologist, defined two different models of management and how they can affect productivity outcomes.
Theory “X.” This theory is rooted in the belief that people inherently do not want to work (will in fact avoid work if at all possible); are irresponsible; are not particularly intelligent; have no ambition; require constant supervision; and are motivated solely by money and fear. Theory X managers believe that employees require a structured environment where scare tactics, power and punishment are the key factors. Theory X managers feel dictating and directing is necessary to achieve maximum output and accomplishment.
Theory “Y.” In contrast, this theory is rooted in the belief that people have immense potential and are generally self-directed individuals who will act responsibly towards their work, as naturally as breathing. Theory Y claims that given the right set of circumstances, environment and opportunities, employees can achieve beyond their capabilities. This theory supports a win-win concept whereby if employers treat employees as valuable members of the team and give them the recognition they deserve and long for, their work contributions would increase to the point where everyone (employer and employee) benefits.
Stepping into an X or Y office is like night and day.
The X offices are overrun with complaints of micromanagement, under-appreciation, snide remarks, rolling eyes, inequity, stress and threats to quit. Sometimes this happens in private, other times within eye- and earshot of patients and co-workers.
On the other hand, staff members who function under Y leadership feel a personal connection (read: loyalty, trust) to the practice. When they face problems, staff will focus on finding solutions in the hopes of improving situations.
I can identify which camp I am about to face after only minutes of walking through the door of either office. If that is immediately apparent to me, imagine what their patients are exposed to in their podiatrist’s office.
Now that you know the differences, it is time for a little introspection. Ask yourself: Which practice is mine, X or Y? How would my staff describe the practice? Which practice do I want mine to be?