Two Common Bad Habits of Smart, Successful Doctors

August 9, 2011

Are you managing your personal and practice business affairs like a wellness clinic or a trauma center?

Working with a highly successful group of people over the years I have seen both common traits that foster their success and a pattern of bad habits that works against them, often creating a two-steps forward, one-step back pattern. Sure, they’ll probably still get there, but only after spending more time and energy to do so and taking greater risks than were necessary. 

Crisis Management vs. Preventative Medicine
Most successful people fall predominantly into one of these two categories. Like in medicine, the best legal, financial, and business planning is preventative, not reactive.
 

Being proactive about your risks and planning issues gives you the widest number of options at the lowest possible cost. Common examples include preventing issues that lead to lawsuits by having employee manuals and compliance guidelines clearly in place, or paying for financial or compliance audits that allow you to spot and correct any issues internally before you are forced to do so by a regulatory agency, EEOC complaint, or Medicare audit based on your practice’s coding practices.

Time pressures and cost are the first objections voiced when we discuss these issues with clients. Most successful people feel that they simply can’t proactively manage all of these issues and that they must devote to their energy and resources to running the business and making money, not keeping it.

What I and many of the related professionals I work with constantly reinforce when met with this objection is simple: Being proactive or implementing preventative measures saves you both time and money. Would you rather be audited by the IRS and subject to fees and penalties and interest or have your questionable retirement plan reviewed and made compliant? Would you rather have a policy in place that prevents lawsuits or have to defend one at huge out-of-pocket defense costs and potential exposure if you lose? As an attorney I can tell you that I almost never seen any legal or financial problem that was more efficiently fixed than prevented.

Failing to Delegate
Those running successful businesses of all types, including medical practices, are typically driven and love to be in control of everything. At a certain point and scale the very habits that made you successful in building a business will be counter-productive in being an efficient manager of a now much larger business.

We often see many of the type-A executives we deal with trying to hold on to and personally touch everything from staffing to running the retirement plan for the group. Not only does this distract you from working at your highest purpose and doing the things you are best at, it creates additionally liability and room for error, and increases the possibility that something on your heaping plate is going to get neglected.

Your job as an executive is to be a builder of teams and a manager of managers, not a jack of all trades. We see that those who are able to maintain their hard-earned level of success are typically master team builders, managers, and delegators, a skill that often has to be learned.

We often have to help clients pry their hands from the minutiae of the daily operations of their businesses and learn to trust their employees and support staff, including outside experts. That process, likewise, is easier and less fraught with fear for the practice when it knows that those it relies on are simply watching the dials on a well-crafted machine that was implemented in advance with the help of experts (rather than being built from scratch or implemented in an emergency). Are you managing your personal and practice business affairs like a wellness clinic or a trauma center?

Learn more about Ike Devji, J.D., and our other contributing bloggers here.