Building Teamwork in Your Medical Practice

August 15, 2015
P.J. Cloud-Moulds

Interacting with new staff both inside and outside of work can create some truly dynamic teamwork.

I've written about the need to cross-train staff in administrative positions. It doesn't matter how small or large your practice is, it is extremely important that you integrate this task into your overall human resources process.

Over the past few weeks we have had two employees exit for maternity leave. In the interim, we have two new front-office staff. Both are doing extremely well, and we are all so pleased with their progress. But, they did not just drop into the position and suddenly know every detail and aspect of the job. The entire staff stepped in to show their support and provide tidbits of knowledge and easy tips that help keep these new employees on task and learning more everyday.

I've found that it's really how you present this philosophy of community to your staff that ensures it will be an effective and positive experience for everyone involved. Think of the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." Now, no matter the age of any employee, to have staff members step in and share their knowledge can only help. It creates working conditions that allow everyone to thrive and facilitates greater productivity.

Here are some ideas to implement this type of working environment quickly and easily:

• Ask your staff to be part of this solution, and they will no longer be part of any problem. If you have any employees who lean toward the cranky or negative side when a new employee starts, chances are they are feeling insecure or afraid for their jobs. Assure them by asking them personally to help train the new employee, and show them the ropes. Maybe pay for the two of them to just go to lunch. Sometimes, a welcome as simple as this can go a long way.

• Have your new employee shadow each staff member in his or her job. They can simply mean hanging around and observing, or your staff can have the new employee actually perform some of their tasks. This can go a long way with the rest of the staff - they'll know you understand what is involved in their positions and how they tie-in to the rest of the jobs in your practice.

• Have your staff create some flash cards asking questions about the requirements and tasks involved in the new employee's job. These can be shared at lunch or during some downtime. It's a fun and interactive way that all employees can get to know each other.

One thing I do know is that employees who interact together outside of a practice tend to work much better together. They have an opportunity to get to know each other on a personal level and that can make such a big difference.

I recall a job I had several years ago where we were part of a local league softball team. We would play after work one to two days per week. As soon as we really started working as a team on the field, we really started working well in the office. The transformation of teamwork was truly phenomenal. We had warehouse staff to executive staff all out there supporting each other, and that really crossed over in the office.

Give it a try - I think you might be surprised how well it works!