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Five Things to Never Say to Medical Practice Staff

Five Things to Never Say to Medical Practice Staff

  • Five Things to Never Say to Medical Practice Staff
  • Don't say: "I need it done by the end of the day." (©JelenaA/Shutterstock.com)
  • Don't say: "Just get it done!" (©JelenaA/Shutterstock.com)
  • Don't say: "How many times do I have to tell you the same thing?" (©JelenaA/Shutterstock.com)
  • Don't say: "Because I said to do it." (©JelenaA/Shutterstock.com)
  • Don't say: "Do you even know how to do your job?" (©JelenaA/Shutterstock.com)
  • Five Things to Never Say to Medical Practice Staff: Summary

As an administrator, how many times do you stop during your day and really listen to the words that are coming from your mouth? Often, we get so busy that we forget to be respectful when speaking to employees. Daily pressures tend to take over primary importance, and being polite can often become the last thing on your mind.

However, it is vitally important that you establish a firm, but respectful relationship with your team members. It is the only way to earn their respect, and willingness to follow your leadership.

In the heat of a busy day, managers often focus on the task to be completed, and less on communicating necessary requirements to equally busy staff members. Remember, it is all about the delivery. Before you bark out your frustration, try these suggestions instead.

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Physicians Practice


Interesting. We just implemented a new EMR system (EPIC) 5 days ago. To say that there is chaos is an understatement. However...one physician I work with says exactly these types of confrontational comments to our staff. She yelled at 6 of them, one in front of a patient...then became confrontational with ME when I tried to help her with the system & point out that she was inconsistently communicating with staff AND me.

For my trouble, she told me that I was "mean to her" & "not supportive."


As in, I nicely pointed out some issues, but she was offended.

I should drop this article on her desk...but she would never admit to BEING THE PROBLEM.

Kim @

Thank you Kim, for your comments. I think this is far too common in many businesses. I'm happy to have provided some alternatives for communication.

Implementation of a new EMR is hard enough, but then to manage personalities makes it even tougher. Hang in there and know you have support (at least in spirit!)

P.J. @

I have a hard time believing that in a practice today where success is more and more dependent on a collaborative team approach that the "5 things to never say" are ever said. Sounds like something from House or Chicago Hope!

Laurie @

My first reaction was: "This advice is worthless and perhaps even destructive to an efficiently-functioning practice." But after re-reading the item, I'll respond: "I understand your sensitivity toward staff and your desire to reinforce their own motivation to perform well. However, I'd like to help you better focus your communication."

Get the idea?

A major problem with the article is that many of the suggested statements entirely miss the problem. Example: "Do you even know how to do your job?" would come in response to a person (either inadvertently or deliberately) doing a task incorrectly. The job/task is clear; however, the person isn't doing it. Let's take a simple example: Transferring a phone call. Suppose the front desk repeatedly disconnects the caller. THAT would be a reason for someone to ask: "Do you even know how to do your job?"

However, converting it into "Perhaps I did not communicate the requirements successfully" misses the point. The requirements WERE communicated clearly. The method for achieving them is likely the missing element.

Besides, why should the speaker shoulder the blame? ("Perhaps I did not...") No need for a self-induced guilt trip. Why not: "Perhaps the task's requirements aren't clear." Or, better, in this situation: "Perhaps it's not clear how to accomplish the task."

I could go through all five and identify similar weaknesses. But I'll limit it to one more. We're advised not to say: "Just get it done" but rather to say "...so how can I help you complete this on time?" Again, that's not the point. The speaker is saying that the task has to be completed. Often, the speaker's problem is that he/she DOESN'T have the time to do it him/herself. The speaker has delegated the task and has given the staff member substantial leeway in accomplishing it.

And, again, there's that bothersome "I": "how can I help you..." It's possible that any needed assistance could be more efficiently and effectively performed by someone else. Do you really want the staff member to respond, "Since the job is to collect these past due bills, you could really help by calling up these 10 folks who haven't paid and asking when they'll send their payments in."

So, rather than following the five guidelines in this article, readers might better be served with only three: (1) Understand the actual problem; (2) Identify the solution(s); and (3) Verbalize what will effectively address the problem without engaging in a self-induced guilt trip.

Donald @

Donald, I thoroughly agree with your assessment. The point of having support personnel is so that they can support the physician, not the other way around. The very fact that the physician would want to say some of these phrases indicates a breakdown in support staff's motivation, training, or attitude. The screening, interview and training process if done well, virtually eliminate the need for such conversations. Nevertheless, when a situation with support staff arises I like a direct approach that respects the individual yet holds them accountable. Instead of "Do you even know how to do your job?" How about, "When you were trained for this task, you indicated that you could and would do this as scheduled: that doesn't seem to be happening. What's the problem?" No blame, no judgement, no easy escape and no making excuses for the staff. Also, it doesn't volunteer the supervisor or physician to do the support staffer's job or lighten their load. It allows the employee to provide feedback on the situation and can result in a better process.

I think it's nice to be nice, but it's also fair to expect one's employees to perform their work tasks in a timely responsible manner without being coddled and catered to. It's also fair to have one person doing one person's job and not expecting one person to do the work of 2 or 3 people. Choose VERY carefully, train them well, treat them well, compensate them properly and expect excellence. This makes for proud, happy, independent and competent staff in a well run organization. I won't accept any less in my support staff.

Donna @

Love this format and content. Thank you. Fudley Bezuidenhout, Ceo, BetterPracticeManagement.co.za

Practice Manage... @

Yes, I agree. There is always room for grace to be extended. Supporting your staff in this manner,
even though you are shouldering some of the blame will produce a much more productive staff and
the end result is harmony, team work and respect. Everyone wants to work in an environment like

Lee @

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