Open Communication with Medical Practice Staff

December 3, 2015

It is easy to concentrate on what's wrong at your practice. But good communication between staff and management can cure many ills.

At a time of year where the overarching themes should be joy, gratitude, and love, I have read more blog posts about the negative aspects of running a medical practice.

I have seen, for example, information on theft, fraud, taxes, and employee troubles.

Let's flip that script and find out how practice leadership can better support the medical office staff so that they can continue to excel at their jobs.

Here are a few ways practice administrators can work together to build a stronger team:

1. Connection. Take the time to say hello and create a genuine connection with your team. Often staff and their contribution to the success of your practice are overlooked at this busy time of year. Acknowledge your staff and their efforts, so that your team spirit doesn't begin to dissolve.

2. Find out if staff members need support. Is your team working grueling hours? Are they disappointed about what is going on in the practice? Or, are they struggling with personal issues? Often just offering a listening ear can be enough, and sometimes you'd be shocked to know what your staff is going through.

3. Share honestly what is happening with the practice. For example, if you aren't able to give a holiday bonus this year, sit down and have an honest conversation about why that is.

Some people would caution against getting involved on a personal level with staff members. I am certainly not saying you should jump in with both feet. However, open and clear communication between you and your team goes a long way to create loyalty, partnership, and cohesion, and will help prevent your practice from falling prey to trouble such as fraud or theft.

Here are some of the real benefits of good communication:

1. Clarity. When your team knows they can talk to each other and their manager and experience the caring of a "family" at work you can avoid many of the negative manifestations that occur in an office. As an added bonus, when you are transparent about troubles for the practice, your team will often come up with solutions to the issues.

2. Increased morale. Yes, many times employees are concerned about pay, but it is often not the only concern. Open communication goes a long way in producing a healthy work environment. Happy employees work more efficiently and proactively.

3. Increased engagement. Your practice couldn't operate without your team. Open communication ensures your team knows their views matter, which encourages them to participate more in their job and in decision making. A nice side effect is that they will even be more proactive in solving problems that arise without assistance.

Instead of putting your staff on the "naughty list" and watching them like a hawk for their wrongdoings - try opening up the lines of communication and watching them come together and grow.