Are You Creating a Culture of Problems or Solutions?
While watching my nine-year-old cousin play soccer this weekend, I received a text message on my phone. The team member sending it had raised two concerns she felt were going to hurt our patient volume numbers. Caught up in the excitement of the soccer game and not really thinking, I instantly forwarded the message to our managing partner for review, and he sent back a message explaining the backside to the issue and why it was a mute concern. He also wrote, “Start looking for the good, it’s easy to find the bad.” As I pondered that entire situation this weekend, I realized how poorly I had handled it. Regardless of the outcome of the concern raised, I had instantly reverted to developing a culture in my department of creating problems instead of solutions. I read the problem on my phone, and I forwarded it on to someone else to solve. This isn’t typical of how I respond to things. What I should have done was respond to the message with two questions: 1. Have you discussed your concerns with those involved in this? 2. What is your solution to fixing the concerns you’ve just raised? Those are the two primary questions I usually respond with when someone comes to me with a question about how to do their job. While it is almost always easier for me to tell someone my thoughts or solutions, by doing that, I become a problem solver instead of a leader. In the process, I also create a culture in my department where my team members feel they can bring problems to me to solve. When I let this happen, I end up spending the majority of my days putting out fires. This, of course, is much less productive than filling my role as the director of the department. Let me take you through a conversation I had with one of my community educators last week.
Her: “I have 2 luncheons today. One for the Chamber Diplomats monthly meeting. The other is a message I just got from our provider about going to a luncheon one of the hospitals is having to discuss their changes. He told me to go to that one and discuss what we do. Which one do I go to? Any suggestions? I RSVPed for the Chamber meeting. He RSVPed him and one of our team members for the other meeting, but now he can’t go.” Me: “What do you think?” Her: “I’m not sure. He thinks I need to go to this meeting and discuss with the fellow medical offices what we can offer. At the Chamber meeting I don’t know that I will accomplish a lot but talking with businesses. I’m not real sure if either is all that beneficial but it’s still out in the business world. Hmmm.” Me: “I support whatever decision you make. There isn’t a right or wrong choice.”
It would have been very easy for me to tell her which meeting I would’ve gone to if I was in her shoes. It also would’ve been easy for me to tell her alternatives for how to solve the problem. But by doing that, she wouldn’t have felt comfortable making decisions on her own. And the reality is, there was a simple solution (which she figured out) to have our company represented at both events. At our Medical Practices we have adopted the policy, “If you see the problem, you own the problem.” In general this means you’re not allowed to bring a problem to someone else to solve until you’ve come up with at least one solution on your own for how to solve it. Obviously it’s not a perfect system. As you can tell by the two examples above, I still have team members who bring problems to me without solutions. But it is how I respond to those problems that will help my team members grow into decision makers on their own. What about you? Are you creating a culture where your team members are constantly bringing problems to you to solve? Or are you creating a team of leaders who feel empowered to make decisions on their own to solve the problems they find within your Medical Practice business? My team knows that unless it’s illegal, immoral, or going to cost the company a lot of money, they have the right to make decisions on their own.
Article By: Tina Bell Tina Bell is the Director of Marketing for HealthCARE Express®, where her responsibilities include spearheading the company’s social media and internet strategies, leading the in-house physician recruitment team, and developing aggressive programs to promote patient satisfaction and effective service recovery. Tina speaks nationally at industry conferences including the Medical Practice Association of America and the National Association of Occupational Health Professionals. She is the director of business development for Medical Practice Success and an independent Medical Practice marketing consultant.