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The Key to Building a Team in Control of Your Practice

The Key to Building a Team in Control of Your Practice


All right, hey, how are you? My name is Dr. George Birnbach, and today we wanna talk about empowerment and leading a team towards empowerment. Well, a lot of times we overuse the word, or we use it improperly. What does it really mean to have an empowered team around us? A group of skilled staff members or team members that are feeling powerful and empowered. Well, the way I like to think about it is an empowered team is a self governing team. And very few failures are the result of a single act of gross incompetence or negligence. More often, serious failures are often the product of smaller oversights, mindless unforced errors that accumulate, and then crest just in time to cause problems in our programs, right.

Well, good leadership, from the owner of the practice and at every level or every station in a practice understands this, but self-governance takes time to build as a culture, and that’s a culture that catches the small things before they ever become big things because people are paying attention to them. And prevention, it’s not always as easy as it seems, right, because you can’t be everywhere at all times. The power of your policies and your checklists depends on many things going right, but, most importantly, it depends on people actually implementing them. So, think of this as a mantra, the best policies and crisis prevention in your practice, they’re meaningless, if your staff members don’t actually care about the outcomes. So governance is about getting, not just responsibility to an action cycle, like do the checklist, but self-governance requires people to take ownership of the outcome. And if the outcome is the patient’s excited to start care, that’s more than I went through my new patient checklist.

When your employees feel no sense of ownership over the process or the results, the outcomes, they’re more likely to minimize the impact of their mistakes. They assign responsibility to others, or they relax their standards, and when you start to relax your standards over time, those standards just disappear. That doesn’t mean we need the task master, you know, smacking everyone back into line on every micromanagement detail, but it does mean that we’re talking about ownership of outcomes. So at the front desk, what is that outcome you’re lookin’ to get there? Who has ownership of that experience? Who has ownership of the emotions, not just the checklists? The resulting effects, in a group that starts to relax their standards or their ownership of the outcomes, is where the habits become repeated mistakes, right, and they get passed on, and they get propagated to other employees. It’s a recipe for disaster, that you start to wanna micromanage, but you have to avoid that temptation. And because micromanagement, just don’t fall for it. It will never correct the problem. Micromanagement is a symptom of a poor team culture and ownership of the outcomes.

It’s a team’s lack of the perceived ownership that it has over the little mistakes, and then they are allowed to add up to a big mistake, you see. A team culture that fosters self-governance, personal responsibility over the outcomes, well, that team is going to grow together, because they’ll see themselves all in it as a unified culture, and you’ll get the results, because everyone’s looking for the little mistakes that might come back and bite us. So how do we foster a culture like that as the owning doctor? Number one, share the power of meetings. Just because you own the practice doesn’t mean you should be the only voice heard at the table. Good leaders share the voice.

They share the power to build the collective power of the team. Team meetings that promote member contributions, staff member contributions and participation are able to better convey the knowledge and the experiences, the perspectives that everyone has. And if you see something go wrong at the front desk, before you jump up and down about it, say, “Hey, what were you trying to get at? “What were you trying to accomplish, “and why did you think that that was the right idea?” Get their perspective, ’cause shared perspectives really do matter, okay. You want people invested into the purpose and those outcomes, and meetings are one way to do it. Second, encourage and even talk about personal interests with your team and from your team. Opening up about life outside work helps to humanize people in this group, and it creates a meaningful connection that carries over into work responsibilities. And then finally, one of the hardest things to do when we feel we’re moving fast is that we need to normalize the discussion of success, normalize the discussion of failures too. You see, creating an atmosphere where team members are encouraged to talk about their best work without being embarrassed or feeling that, ooh now everyone’s staring at me.

When they are encouraged to talk about the things they did great or well, and they’re also excited to share something they tried that might not have worked out so well. When they are allowed to talk about their best and their mistakes, they’re more likely to work with you through problems and less likely to hide or deny problems. So, don’t worry about the concept of am I building leaders? Leadership will be developed as people learn to identify their best and their worst, to normalize those conversations of success and those conversations of failures.

People will be empowered and powerful when they start owning the outcomes, and now they see that little mistake that’s gonna cause a hindrance on their outcome, and they’re not gonna allow it to happen. By truly empowering people, you’re building a self-governing team, and that self-governing team is the only team you can really trust to keep everything running when you’re not able to pay attention yourself. So let’s focus on that this week, and we’ll have a good wonderful end of the year. Bye-bye.

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