This article is a continuation of the leadership series started by Jim Stroud in 2018. As many of you may know, Jim retired from Warren Averett in December 2018, after serving for many years as an advisor in our health care division. Practice administrators and physicians would seek his advice related to dissension among the physicians, leadership struggles or resistance to change in a changing environment, and more. Jim would communicate the issue, engage our team to assess the details, and resolve the crisis. We often provided ongoing advisory services to foster physician leadership or assist the administrator in facilitating change.
At times, the problems had resulted from governance issues within the practice. A small practice usually relies upon a physician owner to set the practice goals. The practice can only grow and evolve if he or she stays abreast of changes. Every group practice started small and grew over time due to the consistency of the leadership and a clear vision. Most groups employ an administrator to handle most of the day-to-day decisions and lead the practice through strategic goals. Occasionally, we see a practice that grew through the addition of physicians, but there is still no strategic plan for the future.
Communication Is Key
The practice culture is a result of key behaviors of the leadership. Better performing practices have a clear vision statement and review it during all strategic decisions. These practices hold regular physician meetings and keep the practice moving in a strategic fashion. They communicate clearly and practice transparency in setting goals. Better performers value advisors to assist in key decisions and advise through strategic planning. The culture trickles down to how effectively the administrator communicates goals and engages the staff.
A positive culture fosters teamwork through effective communication. Think about how you want the staff and your patients to view your practice. The staff will showcase your culture through the performance of their jobs. I worked with a practice last year whose physician leader had fostered loyalty and success in the staff through “morning huddles.” The staff worked well as a team and supported each other as problems occurred each day. The culture should evolve by hiring staff that understands the goals of the practice and how their job is important to the success of the practice. A physician/administrator team that communicates vision, trains and engages their staff will grow leaders in every area of the practice.
Our practices will continue to face challenges; the regulatory changes alone will keep a practice on their toes. As technology evolves, our practices have many opportunities to serve patients through new platforms and initiatives. Leadership begins with the physicians. If they effectively communicate their vision, they build a practice that attracts new physicians and loyal staff.
Article contributed by Tammie Lunceford, Healthcare and Dental Consultant, Warren Averett Healthcare Consulting Group. Warren Averett is an official Gold Partner with the Medical Association.