The end of the Chicago teacher’s strike brought to mind the fact that many well-meaning employers often lose sight of their end goal. So what do the Chicago teacher’s strike and your medical practice have in common?
For ease of discussion, lets surmise that Chicago teachers felt that their problems/challenges were not being addressed by their current collective bargaining agreement. Now let me ask you…how many of your employees feel that you welcome their opinions and are committed to working together to make your medical practice the premier provider and employer in your community?
NOTE: A collective bargaining agreement sets out the terms and conditions of employment much like an employee agreement, handbook or manual.
How many medical practices have employee agreements or handbooks? Most, I would hope. Assuming you have an agreement, have you or your office manager taken the time to find out how your employees feel about the provisions that make up your agreement? Do your employees even understand the terms of their employment? Did anyone sit down with them when they were hired and explain the terms in language they could understand and yes, that would mean using non-lawyer speak and using real life examples? From my experience, the answer is that very few employers take the time to engage with their employees to discuss the conditions of their employment…that is, until there is a problem.
Office Meetings: Worthless unless Communicated from the Employee’s Point of View
I know many of you will disagree with me on this, but try to put yourself in your employees place. For example, who prepares the agenda for your weekly/monthly meetings? Do employees have an anonymous way to convey concerns or recommend agenda items? Once you meet, how much time is allocated to the concerns of management? Employee concerns? A key point to keep in mind is that your employees don’t really care about your issues or that of the medical practice unless they feel they are part of the practice. Therefore, a rule of thumb is that only 20% of the agenda should focus on the individual physician or their practice. 80% of the meeting should focus on the employee, their thoughts, ideas and concerns. This is not to say 80% of the meeting is spent discussing non-practice related issues; rather, it means that the way in which those issues are communicated should be from the employee’s perspective. If done correctly, this will allow for employee engagement and buy-in to whatever end result is agreed upon.
Create Lasting Relationships with Your Employees FIRST
…..this in turn will create lasting relationships with your patients.
Having spent the last eight years working with management and unions to solve workplace issues I believe the key to success is to have regular, open communication. Open communication leads to mutual respect for one another and will shift the focus from the individual concerns of you, your practice or your employee to what really matters and that is the desired goal. If done correctly, this shift will change the overall tone of your practice and unify your practice in ways you never thought possible.
To Your Success,
I am an attorney, but I am not your attorney. Anything on this blog or in this post should not be construed as legal advice or legal services. If you have an employment law question, you should consult your attorney.