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INSIGHT

You can’t do it all

By Steve M. Cohen  bio

I’ve been asked, even criticized, about focusing too much on the “soft” side of management.

I’m asked why I don’t discuss more “concrete” issues like medical billing software or the latest Medicare requirements.

One answer is that these are not my areas of expertise. But the most important answer for you is that these are not the really difficult challenges you face as a manager. Although you may not always like the answers and what they mean, concrete issues like billing or government regulation generally have concrete answers. You can buy newer software, schedule training or visit medicare.gov. Solutions may require outlays of budget or time, even both, but you have a well-defined “hard target” to aim for.

Personnel issues are different. You sometimes have only a slight indication you’re on the right track (assuming you are) for a given issue. What works with one person may not work with another. In fact, some strategies that you must use with one person will definitely not work with another. I call these most troubling HR issues “mess management” because they can truly be operational and financial messes. They’re also messy because, by definition, they inhabit a subjective environment.

Like I said, concrete issues really are easier, at least regarding defining and achieving solutions.

Which leads some managers to try the “I’ll just do it myself” solution. This rarely happens in larger offices, but even here you’ll sometimes find managers who do more than they should because it’s difficult to find and keep people to do things for them. This is especially true of areas that require judgment and decision-making.

Which brings me to my point: Your most important jobs involve hiring the right people, ensuring they go through a thorough on-boarding process, and maintaining an environment in which they remain with your organization.

I’ve written on each of these areas previously. What I want to emphasize here, however, is that you as the manager should have a formal outline for each of these tasks. The outline can be in your head (written is better), but at least you consciously realize that some seemingly mundane management areas are actually critical. Your hiring process is not just a pain you have to go through on occasion, it’s critical to finding a person who can thoroughly do a job and do it well. Defining and using a two or three month on-boarding process in which you carefully orient a new hire to their job and you listen to them on their impressions of your office are not “just nice,” they’re a key part of your job or the work of your HR staff. And yes, creating an environment that keeps staff engaged in their work is something that you do for you and the office, not just for them.

Ultimately, the reasons for all of this are simple. If you have the right people, they’ll take care of your concrete issues. You may have to increase budgeting when new software gets recommended or schedule training for a new procedure, but that’s relatively easy compared to finding the time to somehow do it yourself. If you’ve got the right people, that’s what they will do.


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 www.laborgroup.com 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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