by Alisa Vaughn
As a pediatrician or manager of a busy pediatric practice, you are proud of the medical work you accomplish every day. Parents and children alike put their trust in you, and you do your best to provide the best medical care possible.
You also understand that your practice would not run nearly as smoothly without the help of your hard-working staff. They are the people who patients usually see first when entering your office, and they handle a myriad of tasks behind the scenes, often using state-of-the-art technology.
Because your staff is so important to the overall success of your pediatric practice, you want to do everything you can to ensure that everyone’s morale is high and that productivity is at its best. While providing your staff with outstanding technology is important, you know that a happy and productive workplace goes beyond gadgets to a solid and supportive culture where everyone is valued.
Fortunately, it is more than possible to boost your staff’s productivity and morale — consider the following nine methods:
In an office setting, there can sometimes be a tendency to award positions based on seniority. Unfortunately, this approach can be very demoralizing to business and medical staff. A better approach is to assign positions and promotions based on ability and merit. As Zenefits notes, knowing your employees’ skills and behavioral styles is key for maximizing staff productivity. For instance, in a busy pediatric practice like yours, it might not make sense to promote an introverted employee with a lot of seniority to a managerial position that involves lots of phone calls with people and insurance companies.
If your staff feels like they are stuck in a figurative rut forever in their current roles, they will probably not aspire to do their best work every day. Instead, if you remind your employees that there is always room for growth within your pediatric practice, it will give them the incentive to want to excel at their work. If a current position does not exist for a particular employee to work toward, consider creating one for him or her, even if it’s in title only and does not necessarily include a pay raise. The feeling of being valued and respected will inspire this employee to rise to the occasion.
You don’t want your staff to be comprised of individuals incapable of making decisions on their own. A productive team with high morale is allowed to make work-related decisions by themselves — and then be backed up by the higher-ups. Reassure your team that they have your trust, and should an issue arise from their autonomous choices, you will work with them to find a solution.
As a child, if you ever brought home a spelling test with a B+ grade, only to have your mom say “well, why didn’t you get an A?” you might know how discouraging it can be to be criticized for being anything less than perfect. As LifeHack notes, you should celebrate victories with your employees, no matter how small or “imperfect” they may be. When your team sees that every positive contribution is acknowledged and praised — instead of nitpicked and criticized — they will be more likely to continue to do their best while at work. In addition, demanding perfection can cripple morale and lead to a high turnover rate, which will ultimately hurt your pediatric practice’s bottom line.
If you have an employee who is reliable and hardworking the vast majority of the time, it’s important to not lose your cool over the occasional minor mistake. When members of your team feel like they cannot make even a slight mistake, they will not want to take initiative for fear of losing their jobs. This can lead to the pediatrician or office manager being the bottleneck of the group, rather than an encouraging, understanding, and empathetic leader.
Unfortunately, micromanaging is a common problem in pediatric practices. It can cause employees to feel burned out and take mental health days, which will then cost the practice money and, at times, leave you understaffed. In addition, micromanaging makes people want to leave their jobs due to low morale. A Trinity Solutions survey found that 79 percent of respondents said they had or were experiencing micromanagement at work, and 69 percent said they had thought about changing jobs because of it. In addition, a whopping 85 percent of people surveyed said this nitpicking management style was ruining their morale. Even if you have everyone’s best interests at heart, avoid hovering over your staff and constantly monitoring and/or questioning them.
After a section devoted to the perils of micromanaging, you might be surprised to read a title that looks, at first blush anyway, like it’s inherently demanding of your staff. But time tracking does not have to be intrusive or demoralizing; it is simply a way to measure and document the number of hours that are worked. In addition to helping raise the bar at work and setting more realistic expectations — for example, you might find that your top employees need four hours to complete a task instead of the two you predicted— you can also spot areas for improvement.
Human beings are naturally competitive. They also love to be rewarded for their hard work. Think about how good it felt, as a child, just to be rewarded with a special sticker when you did well in school. At work, you don’t necessarily want to pit employees against each other to earn incentives and you’ll likely want to come up with a “prize” other than a shiny sticker. You can still plan team incentives that will inspire everyone to want to work better in order to accomplish a goal, and maybe earn a nice catered lunch in the process.
While the first eight tips focused more on positive office culture and less on technology, the fact remains that you need to give your team quality products and tools to expect outstanding work. For example, when looking at ways to accomplish more in a limited amount of time, focus on those daily and repetitive tasks like accounts receivable, patient notification, and scheduling, and look for ways that they can be streamlined. Provide your staff with the tools to automate these tedious and common tasks, and you will find that your staff suddenly has more time to focus on other important tasks.
It is reassuring to know that boosting your staff’s productivity will not require attending some weekend-long seminar or going through hours of training. By following the nine tips outlined in this article, you will be well on your way to having a happier team with exceptional morale.
Office Practicum is a leading provider of pediatric-specific solutions. Our EHR, PM system, and billing services help pediatric practices improve clinical and financial outcomes. Contact us today to learn more.