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Management really does matter

By Steve M. Cohen  bio

Although most of us assume the obvious, it’s worth stressing the underlining need for good management and “mess management” in any organization.

There is much that you can do to anticipate the potholes and to navigate around them if you are savvy and prepared. It helps if you have formal education in leadership and management, but even if you don’t, there are resources out there to help.

On one level, there are three behavior categories that employees may display: inadvertent behavior, overt behavior, and opportunistic behavior. Human behavior is obviously more complicated, but these three categories often relate to some of the biggest personnel issues you’ll face. Recognizing them, even in general, can help you formulate your responses.

Inadvertent behavior is displayed because employees have “let their hair down.” This can include coarse and unprofessional behavior, choosing to dress inappropriately for work, using profanity at work, using racist, sexist or other inappropriate judgmental words while at work. All are likely examples of inadvertent behavior.

Overt behavior is deliberate. Employees come to work at a specific time because that is the designated time for work to start. They dress professionally and act professionally because they are expected to and because there is a formal policy requiring them to do so. Overt behavior may include an employee following practice protocol when communicating with patients because they were taught to follow the protocol.

Opportunistic behavior recognizes an opportunity to take inappropriate or unfair advantage of someone. A male supervisor might pressure a female subordinate into sex in exchange for a pay raise. Another example could be when a job candidate threatens to file a complaint with the state Human Rights Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) because the interviewer asked a question like, “Have you ever made an unemployment or workers’ compensation claim?” That question is illegal. Or a strong-willed employee might delight in berating, dominating or traumatizing a weaker employee for sport.

All of these situations can have serious legal and financial consequences. They can also be significant morale killers and time eaters within your practice. To get snagged up in a civil legal case or an EEOC claim is major drain on your practice, not to mention the emotional strain it can take on you personally. This is why management matters.

Not only are there three types of behaviors, there are three types of employees: engaged, disengaged, and undecided.

Engaged employees are fully committed to your business plan and vision/mission. These are your core people, the ones you can always count on. Disengaged employees are the ones who fight you and work against your values and plans. They undermine your goals. The third group is neither engaged nor disengaged, but undecided. Business research suggests that 25 percent of the typical employee group is engaged, 15 percent is disengaged, and 60 percent is undecided. Imagine what could happen in your medical office if you could get rid of the disengaged and grow the engaged group?

The activities associated with managing these human resources include understanding the environment, planning for human resource needs, staffing for those needs, and then effective coaching and judging of personnel. An owner or manager needs to effectively reward employees who are engaged in the business or discipline and/or terminate employees who are not engaged.

These ideas are very generalized, but they can help begin a process of examination and, hopefully, both you and your medical practice will benefit.

Steve M. Cohen, Ed.D., CMC is President/Partner of Labor Management Advisory Group, Inc. and HR Solutions: On-Call, both based in Kansas City, MO. For more information, visit or call (913) 927-0229.

The above information is shared by a guest contributor and does not necessarily reflect the views of Medical Office Manager.









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