Working with others in a clinic setting can be an incredibly rewarding experience. But there’s more to working effectively together than figuring out rent percentage splits and scheduling. How well does the team work together on a day-to-day basis? How can you improve these relationships and make sure you’re all on the same page? The Pulse sat down with Practice Development Consultant Sandra Bekhor to find out how you can use the summer months to take a step back and strengthen your clinical team.
Write a Mission Statement: One challenge of having a clinical team, is that clients often feel that they’re not on the same page with all staff in the clinic. If your clients feel this way, it’s a great opportunity to find out if you are indeed all on the same page. Try writing a clinic mission statement and discussing it with everyone in your clinic. Think of your mission statement as your compass. It powers all clinic decision-making processes, ensures that the right things are being prioritized, and avoids the inclusion of personal agendas. Everyone must feel they have a meaningful role, and that each role pushes the mission forward. To design your mission statement ask yourself about its purpose and valued difference.
How Does the Team Gel? Is your team communicating and relating well? If you’re not, clients will sense that vibe and it will reflect negatively on your clinic. Never underestimate the importance of this level of communication. Some initial questions to ask yourself to assess this would be: Are there conflicts? Do all staff share a vision? Balance each other? Understand each other’s jobs, and how each job contributes to the whole? Could your clinic benefit if you step up your role as a leader by engaging in coaching and mentoring? Consider kicking things off with a team bonding exercise or a clinic retreat for a day, an afternoon or even a few hours.
Review Job Descriptions: Although you may feel that it’s obvious what everyone’s job is in your clinic, try writing out a job description for all clinic staff, and yourself. You may be surprised by what you learn! Then take it one step further: have all staff (including yourself) write down a job description for what they would like to be doing. Then figure out how to get from your current job description to your future one by asking yourself: Do I need to delegate more? Stop doing something? Outsource something? Get more training on a specific topic?
Performance Management: This is only applicable to clinics where there is an established reporting structure. Remember, performance management is not an annual activity, it is a daily activity. Setting up a process is key. For example, are there formal reviews? And what are you measuring in these reviews? There is little point to conducting performance reviews without ensuring that you are measuring indicators that truly help you assess performance. And perhaps most importantly, what is your communication around performance reviews? Often times, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. To get started, sit down one-on-one with each of your direct reports to learn about their personal career goals and where they are struggling.
Evaluating Processes: If you think you don’t have a process for something, think again: whatever you’re doing right now is your process. So the question becomes, is your current process working for you? If not, you need a new process. Some facets of clinic management that are worth considering here are human resources, communication, administration, overt medical/clinical aspects, and training. To think about what processes may be due for a revamp, ask yourself: Where things are getting lost? Where am I losing time? Where am I worried that something important for a patient is getting lost, negatively affecting continuity in care? What keeps me up at night?
The Hiring Process: These processes always take longer than you think, and often are reactive. Do yourself (and your clinic) a favour, and plan ahead. Start thinking about the steps required to hire a new staff member. Identify what you need and think about where you can source individuals with these skills. You can even have a few initial meetings. The key here is that you don’t need to act on it right way, but if you lay the groundwork for your hiring process in a slower time period, when you’re ready to hire (which often coincides with a busy time in your clinic) you’ll be all set to go.
Imagine returning to your clinic after a summer vacation with the knowledge that you’ve done the work necessary to support and improve clinic function throughout the busy fall season. The final step? Sit back, and congratulate yourself on a summer well spent. Your clients and your staff will thank you!