What is Your Responsibility to Your Staff?

Just as your staff has responsibilities to you and your practice, you likewise have several responsibilities to your practice and staff.

The complexity of active leadership can be best understood by breaking it down into its essential and integral parts:

1. Communication: It is vital for the owner of a practice to maintain excellent communication with his/her staff and to provide active and visible leadership. The following are key elements involving communication that you, as an executive, should implement:

a. Communication of Goals.
Determine the purpose of your practice (most often presented in the form of a mission statement) and communicate that to your staff. Impart the goals of the practice to the staff and keep them informed of the projects that you intend to implement to achieve those goals. The better informed your staff is and the greater understanding they have of such matters, the more likely they will be working in tandem with you.
b. Communication Tools.
There are some fundamental communication tools to implement in the practice; see to it that your staff uses them. These tools can be established and maintained by your office manager; but, as the senior executive and leader of the practice, you must reinforce them. Examples of those tools are: written requests or proposals, written office communications, written office policies and the use of an effective communication relay system.
c. Responding to Communication.
It is vital that you and your staff respond swiftly to written communication. When people do not receive a reply to their memos or emails within an appropriate and reasonable period of time, thereafter they become less willing to communicate. As a result, the business can have more problems on its hands. (Keep that in mind when reading the second part of this article.

2. Staff Meetings: It is also vital that you ensure that the practice holds staff meetings once per week. This is one of the most valuable opportunities available to you for educating staff, setting goals and targets, and handling problem areas that should be addressed by the staff as a whole. The communication lines within the business will strengthen considerably too.

You, as the owner and leader, in addition to your office manager, should continually strive to establish strong coordination and leadership for your staff. Any problems or disagreements between the owner and office manager should always be sorted out OUTSIDE of the staff meeting and should never be addressed in the presence of any staff.

Staff meetings run most effectively if the owner and office manager meet prior to the staff meeting to plan and coordinate those matters to be addressed with the staff.

3. Policy: To create stability for the practice and to keep the lines straight, it is very important that you continue to implement written policies. There should be written policies to govern all activities in the practice.

When you write a policy, place the original in a binder marked “Policies.” The office manager would then distribute a copy to each relevant staff member, indicating to the staff that they are to read the policy and send a note to the office manager reporting that they have done so. Their copies of the policy would be placed in their “job description” manuals, in the General Staff Section.

Office managers can be very helpful in policy development and deployment, but they need to know precisely what your policies are. Your office manager can write the policies and submit them to you for final approval. He/she can and should suggest areas in which policy is needed. Also, general staff should be encouraged to propose policy via the office manager.

4. Setting Goals and Targets: When targeting your weekly and monthly quotas, it is advisable to plan ahead, prior to your staff meeting, and really confront how much production you did the week/month prior. Following that, figure out how much can realistically be produced within the upcoming week/month, bearing in mind that you should set targets to increase production. Really take a look at what CAN be done, then go over it with your office manager, and then with the rest of your staff at the staff meeting.

Each week, you should bring your graphs to the meeting and keep the staff informed as to how the group is doing overall in approaching its goals.

5. Group Member Responsibility: The more each staff member takes responsibility for the office as a whole, the better your office will do. It is very helpful to have each staff member arrive at the staff meeting prepared to contribute. This is something the owner should promote and support, so that the staff realizes the importance and complies with the office manager’s orders. The goal of the executive should be to encourage and show the staff how to become more and more responsible and able to contribute to the creativity, growth and expansion of the practice.

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