The challenge of HR is one of the most difficult aspects of owning a business. We often hear about the frustration of staff turnover from our clients.

Our work as consultants is tied directly to the integrity and sustainability of the team and over the years, we have seen some winning combinations.

Leadership is always the foundational piece. Not only will the direction of the practice come from the owner, but it is also key that the owner and their employees have a good working relationship built on respect and open communication. In general, how staff speaks to each other, to the doctor and to patients, will ultimately be a reflection of how the doctor communicates with staff.

We struck a cord recently when speaking on this topic at the OAO conference in Toronto:

Imagine that the doctor is getting ready to leave for the day. A staff member comes back and let’s the doctor know that an emergency has just walked through the door. The doctor’s reaction will be noted by the staff member, either subconsciously or consciously. If the doctor responded with frustration at being delayed, there is a high probability that the next time that a patient walks late or as an emergency, the staff member will exhibit some mild irritation. Conversely, if instead the doctor responds with concern and a willingness to help, the staff will more likely also exhibit that behaviour towards patients.

We encourage the offices that we work with to also share financials, as much as they are comfortable with, with their staff. It is vital that staff members understand that the practice is fundamentally a business and that there are some key performance metrics that need to be tracked and managed. Sharing this information is also quite useful and effective in Change Management. As changes are made in the office, it is important that staff see the results of their efforts.

While there is no magic wand—people will leave to pursue personal goals or move with spouses—paying attention to how you manage your staff and understand what motivates them will increase the likelihood of a happy and productive team.

Christina Ferrari

Christina Ferrari

is the co-founder and managing partner of Simple Innovative Management Ideas (SIMI) Inc. and expert Practice Management contributor for Optik magazine. She can be reached at info@simiinc.com.