Sometimes, the business of medical practice management is a fuzzy science.  Managers have to keep the patients, and their bills, moving through the practice.  Most often, physicians are satisfied if their managers accomplish that much.

But managing optimally includes softer skills, like bringing out the best in staff.  Recently, we’ve worked with several practices with managers who do a great job of managing upward — reinforcing the confidence their physicians feel for them — but who don’t have much insight into really managing their own teams effectively.

Keeping an eye on the team, and making sure everyone’s doing what they’re supposed to do, is a huge chunk of a manager’s role.  But it’s not the entire role of a truly effective manager.  A truly effective manager helps each member of the team develop his/her skills, understanding each person’s strengths and weaknesses, and figuring out how each direct report can contribute more and be challenged and grow.  This is not just key to helping the practice improve its short-term results, it is critical to retaining the best staff and successfully completing growth initiatives.

Turnover alone can be so costly to practices.  Hiring and replacing employees is a time-and-money sink.  And while critical jobs stay unfilled, mistakes can happen — and patient service can suffer.

This recent Harvard Business Review article delves into this issue — and makes the important point that a poor relationship with their direct manager is a primary reason (if not THE primary reason) employees quit.  We see it every day!

Medical practices often pay a great deal of attention to provider education — partly by necessity. And managers can often attend conferences and find other paths to learning and development.  But staff are often left out of the equation.  And if managers aren’t finding out what staff career goals are — and how they can help them learn, grow and achieve them — then the practice will suffer as a result.  Make sure you’re evaluating your managers on this important skill!

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