5 things you should be doing to get through the Covid 19 crisis

  1. PPP: If you haven’t already applied for PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) do it now. This program allows you to receive 8 weeks worth of funding to go toward your payroll/rent/bills. At the end of the 8 weeks you can apply for loan forgiveness. As long as you’ve spent at least 75% of the loan on payroll for your staff and the rest has been applied to things like rent, mortgage interest and utility bills, and can provide receipts, up to 100% of the loan can be forgiven. You can get the PPP application form from the SBA here: https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/2020-04/PPP%20Borrower%20Application%20Form.pdf
  2. Marketing and Promotion: You need to make sure you are continuously letting your patients/clients know that you’re open, what your changes in protocol are, any change in hours and that you’re there to take care of them. Don’t just change the greeting on your voicemail and call it good. Change the main page of your website, keep updating your social media, and send out email newsletters to your entire database. If you don’t currently have a newsletter, they are cheap and easy to produce using a service like Constant Contact (https://www.constantcontact.com/) or Campaigner (https://www.campaigner.com/). You can also put up vinyl signs on the outside of the building stating that you’re still open for emergencies or more, what your new hours are, etc. Let your clients or patients know that you are there for them.

  3. Telemedicine. With Telemedicine your practice can provide patients and clients with a secure patient portal to access data you share. It can provide secure messaging so they can start a clinical conversation. It means live video consultations for evaluations, assessments, pre-screening, check-ins and planning forward.

    There are turnkey solutions out there – you don’t have to invent the system yourself. For dentists, one service you can check out is MouthWatch Teledentistry https://www.mouthwatch.com/teledentistry/. For Optometrists/Ophthalmologists one choice is EyeCareLive https://eyecarelive.com/ and as of today, 05-05-20, they are waiving their $749+ “onboarding fee” for practices looking to get started during the Covid-19 pandemic.. For Veterinarians one choice is VetStoria https://www.vetstoria.com/telemedicine/.

  4. Social Distancing: Set up zones in your office. Remove some seating in waiting rooms so that chairs are at least 6 feet apart. Take the patient or client’s temperature and do a quick health assessment before allowing anyone in your office.

  5. Health and safety: Inform your patients and clients of what you are doing to ensure their health and safety. Let them know how you are cleaning and disinfecting, what safety protocols you are following, etc. Make sure they know that you are doing everything you can to be there for them in a safe manner.

If you are a practice owner and would like free help with a particular employment concern or any other management topic, fill out the form on this page, and we will be more than happy to assist you. ^

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Covid-19 and it’s economic impact on private practices


Hello,

This is Ken DeRouchie, the editor of The Practice Solution Magazine. On March 11th, I decided that The Practice Solution Magazine needed to shift its focus to the COVID-19 pandemic and how it is effecting private practice. This is still an ongoing research project. 

Between March 11th and March 16th, our researchers interviewed practice owners from throughout the US by phone. We were asking questions regarding the impact that the virus was having on private practices in the Dental, Optometric and Veterinary fields. During that initial 5-day period, most of the practice owners who were interviewed said that they really hadn’t felt a change in business other than a few more cancellations and rescheduled appointments. They did express concern for the future, and uncertainty as to what would happen down the road. Some expressed a concern over the possibility of another big recession, others said that another recession was unlikely. By March 15th this started to change.

On March 15th, The American Veterinary Association sent a message to all of its members stating: 

AVMA is advocating for all veterinary hospitals and ambulatory practices to be considered essential businesses in any situations in which non-essential businesses are asked to close for COVID-19 risk mitigation. Veterinarians and our teams provide important animal and public health surveillance, deliver essential medical care for ill animals, and ensure that only healthy animals enter the food supply.

Veterinary practices can and should defer elective procedures to preserve medical supplies when circumstances call for that. However, veterinarians must also be able to continue to provide medically necessary care for our animal patients, especially during this time when Americans are spending increased time at home with their pets and ensuring the integrity of our food supply is critical. In doing so, and as needed, veterinarians can adapt our approach to ensure an appropriate level of biosecurity that safeguards the health of our animal patients and their owners.

The message goes on to say, “All healthcare professionals need to adopt strategies that will allow them to conserve PPE as much as possible, including veterinarians.

At this point Veterinary practices started offering telemedicine appointments, providing curbside check-ins, cancelling or rescheduling wellness appointments and other non-urgent appointments and started focusing on emergency patients only. 

Source: AVMA Email

On March 16th the American Dental Association made the recommendation for, “dentists [to] postpone elective procedures.” 

Their release states, “The American Dental Association recognizes the unprecedented and extraordinary circumstances dentists and all health care professionals face related to growing concern about COVID-19,” according to the March 16 statement from ADA President Chad P. Gehani. “The ADA is deeply concerned for the health and well-being of the public and the dental team. In order for dentistry to do its part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the ADA recommends dentists nationwide postpone elective procedures for the next three weeks. Concentrating on emergency dental care will allow us to care for our emergency patients and alleviate the burden that dental emergencies would place on hospital emergency departments.

Source: ADA.ORG

Also released on March 16th is a statement from the California Optometric Association.

“As the facts and situation around COVID-19 (coronavirus) continue to evolve, and in step with Gov. Newsom’s recent Declaration of a State of Emergency, including the call for all seniors over the age of 65 and residents with chronic conditions to self-isolate at home, the California Optometric Association is requesting the cooperation of all California optometrists and issuing the following guidance: The California Optometric Association strongly recommends that optometrists practicing in California voluntarily suspend nonessential or nonurgent optometry care for the next 14 days. As always, it is expected that optometrists will continue to be available as needed for emergency care and services. Optometrists are considered non-essential services under the governor’s guidelines.

COA does not make this request lightly, and it is being done out of an abundance of caution during this historic public health emergency. As health care professionals, we all have a role to play in “flattening the curve” in order to follow sound, scientific public health advice to help limit infections and slow the spread of the virus.

Sincerely,

 Jason Tu, OD

President”

The following day, March 17th, The American Optometric Association released this statement:

The AOA supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) patient care guidance issued on March 17 and the efforts of state and local authorities as well as state boards of optometry to combat further community spread and a wider outbreak. Also of critical importance are immediate efforts to assure continued access to essential health care, including urgent and emergent care provided by doctors of optometry, and to reduce current and expected burdens on emergency departments.

Doctors of Optometry are frontline physician providers of essential care. Urgent care is defined as medical care provided for illnesses or injuries which require prompt attention but are typically not of such seriousness as to require the services of an emergency room. Emergent care is defined as medical care for conditions requiring prompt medical attention due to a sudden change in the eye or visual health. Based on the immediate health needs of a patient, doctors of optometry can and should use their professional judgment to determine the timing and course of care, including assessing patient expressed urgency, necessary preventative care and the monitoring and refilling of prescriptions.

After these statements were issued, things changed immediately. We’ve continued to interview practice owners all over the country and the answers have changed dramatically. Practice owners are becoming increasingly worried. Some have already had to lay off employees. Most are worried about the long-term impact to the economy, wondering if it’s going to be like the great recession in 2008. Quite a few of the doctors that were interviewed have talked about the increased safety protocols they have put in place, ranging from taking the temperature of everyone (including staff) that enters the practice, and not allowing anyone with a fever inside, to disinfection and sterilization after every appointment. 

One other overwhelming commonality we have heard is the concern for their employees, their patients and their communities and the practice owner’s resolve to help get them through this crisis. 

You, as a doctor and practice owner are a person of vital importance to your community. People look to you, as a medical professional, for answers. You need to remain strong and not play into the panic that is so pervasive in the media. Yes, this is a pandemic and it is a global crisis and there are a lot of people in fear of what’s going on. Educate them. Reinforce the CDC guidelines for safety, i.e.- Clean your hands often, avoid close contact, stay at home if you’re sick, cover coughs and sneezes, wear a facemask if you’re sick, clean and disinfect.

Also, communicate with them and help them get past their fears. It is up to each of us at this critical time in our history to lift each other up, comfort and ease each other. We can all make a difference. Be a beacon of sanity in your area.

As for you as a business owner, there are things you can do to make sure your business survives. For those of you that are taking a big financial hit, the HR 6379 section in the stimulus relief package will help.

Take Responsibility for Families and Workers Act.

Division I- Financial Services

Title 2- Assisting Small Business and Community Institutions

SEC. 202. SMALL BUSINESS FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM.

(a) “In General.—The Secretary of the Treasury shall establish a Small Business Financial Assistance Program under which the Secretary shall provide loans and loan guarantees to small businesses.”

Provisions of the massive stimulus bill which just passed Congress were designed with small business owners like YOU in mind. These elements of the bill make it possible for you to keep your staff fully employed for the next 8 to 10 weeks, even if your practice hours are significantly reduced or you’re shut down entirely.

Other things you should do include: Make sure you update the main page of your website, post on your social media, email lists, texts and let your patients and clients know that you are still open to see emergencies. 

You can also do Telemedicine appointments via skype/zoom or phone.

The AOA published an article on March 11th. In it they state, “The initial legislative response by Congress and President Donald Trump to the COVID-19 public health emergency and localized reports of community spread in the U.S. is a sweeping, $8.3 billion emergency aid package signed into law on March 6. The measure includes funding for lab tests, vaccine research and general outbreak response, including directives aimed at providing physicians with authority and reimbursement mechanisms through Medicare for remote and telehealth services to their patients.”

If you have questions about any of these things or would like advice on where to start or what to do next, you can call me at 800-695-0257 or email me at kderouchie@thepracticesolution.net and we can set up a free, one hour call to talk and I’ll give you some recommendations.

 

Stay vigilant and be safe. 

Sincerely,

Ken DeRouchie

Editor

Achieving Better Retention and Patient Satisfaction

Thriving successful practices have mastered the challenges of patient and client retention.

A question that needs to be asked, answered and fully understood is, “Where does patient or client retention start?”

The truest and simplest answer is: the point when the patient is procured!

You could say that patient procurement and patient retention are two sides of the same coin.

Let’s delve into this in a bit more detail.

A practice, in essence, has a systematic way of obtaining, onboarding, and treating patients and collecting payment for services rendered.

In amongst all of this is the human element or the patient or client themselves. This is where the complexities of patient retention begin and end.

The Key Points That Determine Patient Retention.

How a clinic addresses the human element is really the crux of succeeding in the challenges of patient retention.

Always keep in mind that underlying retention and patient satisfaction issues are usually issues with service, delivery, and the interaction with the staff.

There are several key points in any practice that determine the outcome of patient retention. This applies to new patients as well as existing patients. These are as follows:

  • Overall Clinic Environment and General Staff Interaction with the Patients
  • Front Desk – Patient Arrival
  • Patient Prep
  • Physician Interaction
  • The Front Desk – Patient Departure
  • Interim Period – The Time After the Patient Leaves Until the Time They Return.
  • Dealing with Patient/Client Upsets

Each of these elements, when properly set up and organized, will lead to a higher degree of patient satisfaction and will result in better retention and better reviews.

In the next article, there will be some tips and strategies to help improve patient retention and treatment satisfaction.

Overall Clinic Environment

Clients/patients know you first by the appearance of your space. Uniforms or staff attire should be impeccable and professional at all times. Waiting areas, procedure spaces and any office visible to newcomers should be kept neat and clean.

Outside the practice, use professionally designed signs and these ought to be kept clean of filth or debris. Restrooms also say something about your practice that may go unspoken but never unnoticed.

Dealing with Upset Patients/Clients

Are there clear strategies, procedures and precise policies in place to deal with people who are upset or dissatisfied with some aspect of the clinic or the service they received?

Is there a person in the clinic who is trained on these policies and designated to handle upset patients/clients?

Staff that come into direct contact with patients and clients should be trained to recognize signs that the person in front of them is not satisfied, and deal with them in accordance with clinic policies. This is particularly important to address before they leaves.

Is there a private place in the clinic where an upset can be addressed? Taking the person aside can make them more likely to open up than if you attempt to deal with the problem in a public space.

Are Surveys Being Used?

Perhaps the single most important tool to improve the patient experience is the survey.

This often overlooked but powerful tool, when used properly, can determine the exact course of action to take to directly improve retention and improve other aspects of the practice.

The use of surveys in a practice can also result in creating better promotional response in the acquisition of new patients. Other beneficial information can be derived from the use of surveys.

New and existing patients should be surveyed.

The actual subject of creating surveys and surveying is a rather involved technology. The entire subject of surveys would be impossible to cover in this article.

Ideally, there should be someone in the clinic who has at least a basic working knowledge of the technology of surveying.

Manners Matter

There is much more to manners than just being polite. This is very important, but there may be other factors to consider on the subject of clinic manners.

Are patients being communicated to in a way that makes them feel understood and acknowledged?

Be Aware of and Sensitive to Personal Beliefs and Concerns

Treat each patient as the unique individual they are. Every patient or client likes to be made to feel special and important. One method of doing this is to have staff review the schedule each day so they can refer to the patient/client by name.

Be sensitive to those who may have particular customs, beliefs and ideas about medicine and treatment. It is always better to ask than to assume! It would be very wise for a practice to survey their patients/clients to discover any important information in this regard.

Develop a culture in the clinic of compassionate care, patient importance and service orientation.

All of these things when done should add up to a patient or client who feels that they are important and appreciated. Doing so, addition to good retention may mean the clinic will also get rave reviews to boot!

Dealing With The Interim Period

In this age of digital advertising & social media, the average American sees 5,000 ads per day (2018). This leads to distractions and plenty of opportunity for competitors to capture your patient or client’s attention between the time they leave your office, and their next scheduled return.

Handle this by encouraging loyalty. Reward referrals, offer a reminder system of texts, email and phone calls, and keep your practice top-of-mind with a social media presence and email newsletters.

If you are a practice owner and would like free help with a particular employment concern or any other management topic, fill out the form on this page, and we will be more than happy to assist you. ^

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Solution to the Most Distressful Staff Management Problems

I’m sure many of our readers are very familiar with The Practice Solution Magazine’s phone surveys. Our team of surveyors speak with doctors all over the country, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Given the nature of your busy schedule, we definitely appreciate it when you take the time to speak with our team. The information that you provide enables us to concentrate on articles of interest to you and your staff.

With that in mind, we have found in our recent surveys that one of the most distressing areas for most doctors is the managing, hiring and controlling of staff. Every person is different, and human interaction within small practices often times can be nerve-racking, volatile and frustrating. You have probably found that not everyone thinks like you do, cares as much about your practice as you do, or is as willing to work extra hours as you do.

We definitely recognize the frustration that can occur with losing an employee whom you have just invested thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours training. One of the most important things that you can do to bolster your practice is to ensure that all of your staff are fully trained and operating on the same page. The optimum team is one that knows what their specific duties are; how to do those functions without any difficulty; can do them without emotional issues getting in the way (in other words, strictly professional); and are aware of what the other staff should be doing.

When your staff are competent work is more efficient, morale is higher and the doctor can just be the doctor instead of the referee or babysitter.

If you implement the suggestions here, you will find at least some of your frustrations disappearing, and you may even get more support from your employees because they will have a better understanding of what you need as the practice owner, which will enable them to become more competent and professional.

It would be nice if employees never made any mistakes and always did a perfect job. But, we are all human, and mistakes or on-the-job errors are part and parcel of running a practice. That raises the question, what do you do when your staff err and how do you correct them? Here are some suggestions.

As part of this overall process you must have written job descriptions and office policies that clearly delineate what tasks a person is responsible for on their job and the overall working guidelines for the office. The reason these are so important is that you use them as part of your correction procedure. Unfortunately, very few practice owners have proper job descriptions and office policies in place.

For starters, if you need to correct a staff member, make sure you review any specific disciplinary policies you have issued so that your actions are consistent with these. For example, if your policy states that theft is an automatic discharge, you would not simply issue a reprimand to someone caught stealing.

The first level of correction is normally directing the staff member’s attention to whatever policy he/she violated, what was not done or what should have been done, all of which is delineated in their job description or in your written policies.

Have the staff member reread the policy and/or job description. Ensure that they understand it and clear up any confusions or misunderstandings. This is usually enough to handle the first offense.

On the second offense the office manager or practice owner should review the situation with the staff member and have them sign a copy of the policy that was violated as an attestation that he/she understands and agrees to the policy and/or job description. We then recommend for you to put a copy of the signed document in the personnel folder of the staff member and give a copy to the staff member to put in their staff binder. One can consider that this constitutes a warning.

On the third offense, we recommend that you do the following: give the employee a written warning, a copy of which goes in their personnel file. Sit down and discuss this situation with them; go over the fact that they’ve been corrected on this twice before; and tell them that, per office policy, continual violations could result in a suspension or dismissal.

Practice owners normally find that this type of action on a third offense either puts a stop to the problem or points out clearly that they have a real problem staff member on their hands and that proper actions, including excellent documentation, will need to be taken in order to suspend or dismiss the staff member for future violations.

What do you do with a staff member that you have corrected three times and who messes up again? You’ve already given them a written warning, discussed that continued violations could result in suspension or dismissal, but you still find them doing it again.

At this point you should check their production record (although you should have done that already as part of correcting earlier violations). Hopefully you have a simple statistical method to keep track of key production metrics for each staff member and the office as a whole so that you can monitor their productivity. If the person is an excellent producer (which is unlikely given that they keep messing up), you might consider the next step to be a suspension without pay for a certain number of days. If the person has a poor production record, dismissal may be in order.

Again, the importance of having proper office policies and job descriptions in place in order to properly deal with staff cannot be overemphasized. You can easily put yourself in a legal quagmire if you attempt to discipline staff without these in place.

We also strongly recommend that you check with a good employment attorney when you are looking at dismissing any problem employee to ensure that all of your legal bases are covered.

If you are a practice owner and would like free help with a particular employment concern or any other management topic, fill out the form  on this page, and we will be more than happy to assist you. Scroll to top

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Profitable Communication Systems

One of the key elements in running a successful practice is the actual communication level of the practice.

This communication level is not just how people talk to each other. “How” is important, but there is more to it than just that.

It’s also not how many telephones, computers and email addresses the practice has. How they are used is what is important.

Think of communication as a series of systems or channels. These channels consist of not only the methods, but also the importance and reasons for interchanging ideas, information and knowledge.

These ideas, information and knowledge are the elements that keep the staff and patients in tune with what’s going on in the practice as it relates to them.

It is the quality of these communication systems that make or break a practice.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these communication systems.

The first is the methods and quality of how communications are delivered between the staff and the patients at an organizational service level. These communication channels can be in the form of verbal, policy, dispatch or memo, phone, intercom, emails, etc.

The next and maybe the most overlooked aspect of interoffice communication is the job description itself and how well each staff member knows it.

Often overlooked in job descriptions are the elements of what communications are required, necessary, and important relative to the jobs of other staff and the form these communications should take.

Check your office job descriptions and make sure that they include this vital information.

It is also important to include in an office manager’s job description procedures and policies governing the implementing and maintaining of office communications systems.

The question is, how well and how easily can communication be initiated, relayed and received in the practice and with the patients?

It can be proven empirically that the speed, flow and quality of how well communication can be initiated and received will distinguish a well-run and profitable practice from one that is struggling.

Understanding, implementing and maintaining high quality communication systems in a practice is vital to the success of the practice.

Smooth out the communication and watch your practice grow.

Fill out the form  on this page to read the outline on implementing profitable communication systems (highly recommended). Scroll to top

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Turn a 40 Hour Week Into 30 and Stay Profitable

Do you ever get to the end of the day and realize that you didn’t get half of the things done that you intended to get done?

Do you find yourself giving endless streams of orders and then having to spend time following up to make sure everything was really done?

Do you often have to redo work because it was not done correctly the first time by someone else?
Is scheduling a problem?

Managing time in a healthcare practice is an art. Unique problems arise because, as the doctor, your main priority is treating patients. But, how are you supposed to keep your full attention on patients and at the same time stay on top of the crucial administrative work that is paramount to maintaining a thriving practice? The essence of successful time management is the attainment of a level of organization which facilitates the goal of a healthcare practice, a high quantity of well and happy patients.

Simply stated, how well you organize determines how many hours you work and how productive you are during those hours.

If you are having difficulty managing your time, the first action you should take is to keep a time log during a typical work week. While this may be arduous at first glance, you will find it well worth the time and energy you put into it. Carry a small notebook with you throughout the day and log everything you do along with the amount of time you spent doing each. This is best done by logging the events as they happen and avoid trying to reconstruct the information at a later point in time.

At the end of the week, you will be able to look over the information and tabulate how much time was spent on the various activities you engaged in. This exact record will help you isolate areas of the practice that are not being competently handled by your employees and/or are problematic to the point of requiring much of your attention.

The next action you should take is to have each one of your employees keep their own time log, just as you did yours. At the end of the week, you can gather the logs and review the activity of each staff member.

Read part II of this article and find out the key questions you should be asking yourself when you have completed your log. Request “Turn A 40 Hour Week Into 30 and Stay Profitable – Part II” (highly recommended). Scroll to top

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Where is Your Net Profit?

You’ve worked hard all week; the office atmosphere is rife with discipline and brisk efficiency. The staff have been getting along with one another and you are proud of the team spirit they’ve both individually and collectively demonstrated. In fact, your staff has almost read your mind and anticipated your every need. All of the patients have arrived on time for their appointments, and the majority of them have even heeded your advice and accepted your treatment plans!

Now it’s Friday afternoon; the staff has received their paychecks, which reflect production bonuses that you’ve doled out in appreciation of their contribution to the overall increase in production. But then you look at your bank balance and you’re surprised and sorely disappointed at the lack of funds left over for you. What happened?

Where is your net profit? Did you work hard all week just to earn less money? The bank balance should be going up, not down!

You wonder if it’s worth all the effort. All of that increased production might just have landed you into a “higher office-overhead/higher tax-bracket” situation. It’s that frustrating income vortex — the place where, despite producing and collecting more, you take home the same amount or less. And following a few of these “successful” weeks, you shake your head and realize that if you endure much more of that kind of success, you’ll go broke! So, what should you do?

Let’s start by taking a look at the myriad of possibilities of what might have occurred that resulted in your not having any profit for yourself:

Management Issues:

  • Could you consolidate loans for equipment and/or your practice into just one loan, in order to reduce your monthly loan payment and possibly the interest amount?
  • Can you reduce the amount of inventory the practice maintains?
  • Are you collecting your Accounts Receivables with minimal aging? Do you collect at least 97% of the amounts billed?
  • Do you have any sort of monitoring system that helps you to know at a glance, statistically, who is productive and who isn’t?
  • Do you have written office policies that are known and enforced?
  • Does each position in the office have a fully delineated job description?

To learn the 8 staff-related issues that can plague you and adversely affect your net income read the final half of this article by filling out this form (Highly Recommended).

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Leadership Attributes and Management Qualities

As a practice owner, you should be asking yourself the following questions objectively:

  • Am I a good leader?
  • Do I run from conflict?
  • Am I able to motivate my staff?
  • Is my office harmonious or is it filled with conflict?
  • Does my staff “own” their jobs, or do they just punch in and out?
  • Do I ever feel that my staff is “holding me hostage”?
  • Am I running my practice? …or is my practice running me?

Did you answer any of those questions favorably? If you’re like the average practice owner, the answer is no. That’s because, like most doctors, you were not trained in leadership and executive skills. Consequently, you will often find yourself in management situations in which you lack certainty about what to do. Insufficient leadership could easily result in poor staff performance, unhappy patients, needless stress and lost income.

Maxim: The Morale of the Staff Is Based Upon Their Individual and Office Production.

Believe it or not, most staff members want to do a good job. They want to improve and they like being acknowledged for a job well done. When one produces a good product, it’s a reflection of his competence. Demonstration of competence raises anyone’s morale. As a leader, you have the opportunity to foster an environment that can bring about ever-increasing competence and morale.

So, how does one become a good leader? Is leadership a personality trait with which only a few are blessed? No! Leadership skills are taught and, with practice, can be put successfully into daily use.

The first quality a good leader has to have is the ability to confront situations, i.e., to face up to them. If you are the type of owner who runs and hides from conflict and staff problems, then you need some improvement in this area. First, decide that you are going to face up to the problem. Simply take a moment and make the decision; this is very helpful.

Next, grab someone — a friend, your spouse or a colleague — and roleplay the problem. Have that person play the part of the troublesome individual, hitting you hard with backtalk, new problems, can’t-be-dones, etc. Be sure to do the drill until you find that you are more confident and even feel somewhat excited to try out your new skills and presentation. You will be surprised at how easily the situation will resolve once you do this. Keep in mind that your staff can’t and won’t follow if you don’t lead.

It is very important for you to maintain excellent communication with your staff and to provide demonstrable leadership.

To learn Six Key Actions That You, As An Executive, Should Take fill out this form.

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How to Properly Correct Employees

It would be wonderful if employees never make mistakes and always do a perfect job. But we’re all human; on-the-job errors are part and parcel of working in a practice. That begs this question: What do you do when a staff member messes up and how do you correct him?

Here are some suggestions on how to properly correct your staff:

As part of this overall process, you must have written job descriptions and office policies that clearly delineate which tasks a person is responsible for on his/her job and the overall working guidelines for the office, respectively. The reason that proper, written job descriptions and office policies are so important is that you should use them as part of your correction procedure. Unfortunately, very few practice owners have them in place.

For starters, if you need to correct a staff member, make sure you review any specific disciplinary policies that you have issued, so that your actions are consistent with them. For example, if your policy states that proven theft results in an automatic discharge, you would not utilize a gradient approach to termination by merely reprimanding someone guilty of stealing.

Typically, the first step in correcting a staff member is to direct his attention to the specific item he violated, as delineated in his job description or in your written policies, indicating the appropriate action that he failed to take or the inappropriate action that he did take. Direct the staff member to reread the policy and/or job description. Ensure that he understands it and clear up any confusions or misunderstandings. This corrective action is usually sufficient to handle the first offense.

If the staff member commits a second offense involving the same issue, the office manager or practice owner should review the situation with the staff member and have him sign a copy of the policy or procedure that covers what was violated, as an attestation that he understands it and agrees to abide by it. We then recommend that you put a copy of the signed document in the staff member’s personnel file and give him a copy to put in his staff binder. One may consider that this constitutes a warning.

To learn how to apply these policies in specific situations, such as;  How many warnings should be issued? What if the employee is an excellent producer? Read the final half of this article by filling out this form.

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Resolving Negativity in the Office

Since dealing with staff bickering and personality conflicts can be a major source of stress in an office, knowing how to deal with it can be extremely useful. When you let employee situations linger too long, bad things happen, and you can end up losing not only the problem employee but other good employees as well. So, when you encounter two or more employees feuding, our recommendation for you is to find out as quickly as possible who seems to be instigating the problem, as well as determine which of the two employees is the most productive, and to quickly nip it in the bud.

Normally, when a feud is going on, other staff members have either been involved or have observed it in one form or another. It usually bothers them as well, even if they are not directly involved. What we recommended to practice owners is to interview these peripheral staff and get a more neutral opinion of what’s going on and who is really causing the problem. Also, interview the staff involved and get their respective sides of the story. From this you should be able to find out who the real problem employee is.

ACT FAST! The longer you let something like this linger, the greater the odds that you will lose not only the problem employee, but the good employee and possibly other staff members who are sick of being involved in that type of work environment. If you act swiftly on such matters, you will keep your employees happy.

There’s another very important point: the longer this kind of thing is allowed to continue in your office, the more likely it is that other staff members will start to feel that their workplace is not safe. They will also feel that the owner is not in control of the office and that they may want to find a better environment to work in. You could end up losing a really good employee because you didn’t confront the problem and act swiftly and appropriately.

Having the right office policy and job descriptions in place to govern acceptable and unacceptable behavior in the workplace will give you an important foundation to stand on when handling this kind of situation. Lack of such policy can make the workplace less than harmonious. And don’t forget to document, document, document the non-optimum issues in writing and what was done to handle the people involved. Without documentation, you can open yourself up to potential legal issues.

The “staff infection” is a term that I came up with long ago to discuss the effects that a negative employee can have on a team and how fast it can spread. Similar to how the “Staphylococcus Infection” is dangerous to the body.

The “staff infection” starts in various ways, such as with a staff member that often rolls his or her eyes at staff meetings. This staff member engages in rumormongering and can be counted on to “stir the pot” in the office. This can be the idle staff member or the person who always seems to be busy but gets nothing done. You get the idea. This is the employee that you are “just not sure about.”

What would you think of a doctor that did not practice good sepsis control and permitted Staphylococcus germs to fester in or on his or her equipment? It simply does not make sense, does it? Nobody would do that. Preventing any sort of infection in a patient is more than second nature to any doctor. What would your opinion be of a doctor that was aware that his or her patient had an obvious staph infection but did nothing about it? Enough said.

How do you handle the “Staff Infection”? Read the final half of this article by filling out this form.

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