Practice Culture Matters
In times of challenge, does your team go into all-hands-on-deck mode or turn into every-person-for-themself silos? Are patients treated as a blessing or a burden?
The difference can make or break your practice, so it’s crucial to develop a cultural plan, which can contribute to:
- Attracting and keeping employees and patients
- Delegating with confidence
- Creating a more joyful environment
- Employees who feel empowered
- More open communication and less gossip
The Cultural Plan
A cultural plan supports your practice’s objectives through the strength of your team. It outlines a core sense of ethics, values, and principles that help reinforce solidarity, consistency, and shared goals.
For example, do you want to cultivate:
- Transparency — or secrecy?
- Cooperation — or obstruction?
- Innovation — or stagnation?
- Support — or discouragement?
Whether you intend to or not, you’re always building a culture in your practice. Why not be intentional about your non-negotiables?
Creating a Cultural Plan
The first step is to review your operations plan, which the cultural plan is meant to support and reinforce.
Ask yourself questions to help identify the values, norms, and principles that are critical to practice operations. If you envision, for example, that successful operations mean an engaged team and satisfied patients, then for the cultural plan:
- Think about the behaviors of an engaged team, such as working together, focusing on solutions rather than problems, and having fun.
- Identify the characteristics that support those behaviors, such as flexibility, a sense of humor, inquisitiveness, motivation, and more.
- Consider what would support these qualities, such as team-building activities, recognition for innovation, and empowering through captainships.
- Write it all down, including the core steps to implement what you’ve envisioned.
Leading the Way
The person in charge of the team should lead the way, whether that’s the owner, office manager, or human resources manager.
Take small steps and stick to the plan. For starters, collaborate to identify each person’s goals — personal, professional, and financial — and find ways to align them with the practice’s goals. This ensures that employees (1) are clear on priorities, (2) see how their contributions help the team and organization, and (3) have a greater sense of purpose. The result is a more engaged team.
Hold regular team and one-on-one meetings to check progress, give and get feedback, celebrate triumphs, and identify opportunities for improvement or support.
Improve Team Performance
Even if you’ve cultivated an aligned, engaged, and empowered team, you’ll experience times when things simply aren’t running smoothly. Maybe fewer appointments are getting booked or your audiology department’s revenue took a hit. How do you identify the gaps, and how do you turn things around?
Understanding Human Performance
Understanding the six factors that influence how people work will help you identify specific problems and their solutions.
Structure and process
It’s common to overlook process-related sources of inefficiency. Individual or team performance can be impacted by interruptions from walk-in appointments, patient frustration from wait times, and running behind because of aspirational — not realistic — scheduling.
Resources that are missing, insufficient, or too difficult to use create performance problems for your team. Old and unreliable equipment robs you of valuable time and focus; a disorganized workspace makes every task take more time and mental energy; and missing equipment means unmet demands.
Information flows through a medical practice in several ways depending on the audience. Ensuring everyone has what they need when they need it is critical to success — and is often an unseen breaking point. Missing or incomplete patient forms lead to unnecessary repetition or dangerous assumptions. Lack of communication between positions or about procedure changes can lead to problems.
Knowledge and skill
This is where people tend to look for a solution when there is a performance problem. It includes factors like not knowing what do to, knowing what to do but not having enough opportunity to practice the skill, and having task assignments beyond one’s ability.
This is often the most difficult factor to influence. Lack of motivation is easy to spot — a negative attitude or signs of withdrawal — and usually stems from having conflicting values, putting the wrong person in the wrong position, or not feeling appreciated.
Health and wellness
Employees who feel well perform well. In medical practices, the major concerns are burnout, lack of work/life balance, and poor mental or physical health.
Identifying the Root Cause
When things run less smoothly than they should, consider which of the six factors might be the culprit through a root-cause analysis:
- Pinpoint the problem.
- Identify the relevant data for review.
- Identify causal factors — for example, structure and process.
- Identify root causes — more information to come below.
- Recommend and implement solutions.
3 tactics for getting to the root cause
- Brainstorming is a great approach with diverse teams or groups that are inclined to collaborate.
- Five Whys is just what it sounds like: Start with the problem or symptom and ask, “Why is this happening?” Take that answer and repeat. At the end of five whys, you often have a root cause.
- Surveying is a good approach for a practice-wide issue with myriad possible causes.
Selecting the Right Solution
With the underlying problem and root causes now identified, you can explore various options for addressing the issue. The root cause will often point to a few clear solutions. A resource issue might result in an equipment audit, whereas a motivation issue could result in forums or avenues for showing appreciation.
Increase Your Team’s Performance and Efficiency
Ready for More Detail on Improving Team Performance? Check Out This Article!
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Improve Communication to Increase Efficiency
Miscommunication leads to misunderstandings, lower outcomes, and poor patient care. Understanding the communication style of every member of your team — including yourself — can increase team engagement and cohesion, boosting your practice’s efficiency.
Assessing Communication Styles
There are many tools for assessing communication style. When you take an assessment, you usually receive the name of your communication style and an analysis of how you interact with the other styles described by the assessment. It might also provide insights such as what your intuitive response to pressure might be.
How to Use a Communication Assessment
Develop a theoretical understanding
Many people have never stopped to consider how they communicate and how it affects those around them. An assessment helps you understand the role you play in every interpersonal interaction you have. It also highlights the most effective way to interact with someone who has a different communication style.
Learn the lingo
Every communication-assessment tool uses its own unique set of terms. Part of the process is getting the whole team well versed in the “language” so every team member can express their perspective knowing they’re understood by the whole team.
Put theory into practice
Understanding only goes so far. Hold trainings and team-buildings to troubleshoot scenarios and role play with team members who have a different style. This provides the whole team with the experience and tools to successfully interact with each communication style in real-world situations.
Think outside the box
Once you and your team have internalized how to leverage your knowledge of communication styles, you’ll start to notice ways to apply it on the go that increase efficiencies — such as quickly assessing a patient’s communication style and adjusting accordingly.
We’re Here to Help
Have you already assessed your team’s communication style? Download our 10 tips for next steps on leveraging the results, no matter what assessment tool you used.
Audigy teams are here to support you and your teams through anything you encounter!