In these days of uncertainty and with so many potential changes looming ahead for the medical community, it becomes even more important for offices to do everything within their power to stay afloat.
A huge part of practices staying open and actually being successful is played by the performance of staff. The talent, expertise, and abilities of a physician are not enough to keep a medical practice in business. Physicians must have the support of a well trained staff that works efficiently and productively. The performance of staff is affected largely by their morale.
So if having a staff that works efficiently and productively is so important and their performance is affected so heavily by their morale, wouldn’t it behoove the physician and managers to create, improve, and/or maintain good office morale? If staff morale is lacking in your office, here are some common culprits, and how to address them:
1. Prima donnas: We’ve probably all worked in offices where there was an employee who thought the world revolved around them. These people make sure that everybody knows the world should revolve around them and if it does not produce sufficient evidence of such, they make sure to bring everyone’s attention to it, usually loudly and rudely. They want office policy to cater to their needs and give little regard to the big picture or coworkers. The longer a prima donna is allowed to wreak havoc in an office the more other staff will resent always having to give into him or her.
2. Mean girls: You shouldn’t have to worry about childish game playing among a group of professional adults in the workplace, but the adult “mean girls” are alive and well and playing their games in many offices every day. Who are the mean girls? They are: the employee who gets mad at another employee and then manipulates coworkers to take sides, one who spreads rumors about another employee of whom they are jealous, one who is nice to only some coworkers, one who ridicules their coworkers, or one who sabotages projects to make a coworker look bad. These are some examples. Having this kind of employee destroys the morale of not only the targeted employee but ultimately the entire office.
3. Unfair treatment: Unfair treatment can come from management or from within the staff. If certain milestones or achievements are celebrated as an office for one employee, that same milestone or achievement should be celebrated for all employees. For example, if Nurse’s Day is celebrated with fanfare, then Administrative Professionals Day or Medical Biller’s Day should be, too. If you want to completely destroy morale, celebrating something for one employee and not another is the quickest way to do it.
4. Friendships: Coworkers getting along and even being friends are great things. It makes spending many hours a day together much easier. But those friendships can get in the way of being productive at work. Friendships can interfere with a manager correcting an employee who needs to be corrected. Friendships can cause certain things to be excused that shouldn’t be excused. Friendships can result in the promotion of unqualified employees.
If these types of people and situations are causing morale decline in your office, what can you do? The first thing that can be done to improve morale is encouraging open and honest communication. I have been included in many meetings discussing issues like this and most commonly the “blow up” was the first time management had heard about the issue. Secondly, staff meetings, both group and individual, should be a regular occurrence. Thirdly, management should be proactive in examining the office’s inner workings to prevent such instances of unfair treatment from developing. An avenue for conflict resolution should be in place. It would help if yearly seminars could be given on dealing with conflict at work or such related topics. If an issue is brought up, it should be dealt with promptly.
Some managers and physicians may read this and think, “They are adults and they just need to get over it.” I have been on both sides of the issue, as a manager having to navigate the perils of destroyed morale and as an employee working in an office with declining morale. “Just getting over it” is easier said than done. Proactive and restorative steps need to be taken by all parties involved. After all, we spend more time during the week with our coworkers than we do our families.