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INSIGHT

Your office can improve operations with a few easy changes

By Steve M. Cohen  bio

I’m sure you’ve seen one of Hollywood’s “political” movies.

You know the kind: drama unfolds between a candidate and (fill in the blank), while his or her selfless team of volunteers labor furiously in the background, assuring that the candidate still wins, despite spending all of his or her time dealing with the drama.

Hollywood fantasy, right? Certainly the dramas are mostly fictional, but the staff commitment, energy, and focus might not be. That kind of “high performance organization” is possible, if you apply a few relatively easy principles.

The concept of a high performance organization (HPO) is not new. It’s been part of a number of management theories under many labels for years. Basically, it’s a lean, mean running machine that operates at top efficiency. The key is that employees of an HPO are engaged.

In many ways the concept of an HPO is counter-intuitive. You doubtless agree that some offices just work better than others, but as a manager you also know that staff quality is often a function of your local workforce. You hire the best you can, put them in an office that is designed as efficiently as possible, and hope for the best.

The trick to an HPO is that it’s not really about creating the most efficient way for medical records to get from point A to point B, or maximizing every source of revenue at your disposal. It’s about creating an environment in which your staff will do that and more because, like you, they are truly engaged in their work. Engagement is the key.

So, how do you engage your office staff? First, realize that if your office is typical, only 25 percent of your workers are engaged. Many in the medical profession may see higher commitment levels than this, but the averages are usually fairly accurate: only one in four of your employees is seriously in tune with your mission, vision, and values. The rest are either marking time or even working at odds with your goals.

I can hear you thinking, “Okay, so where do I find all of these engaged employees?”

The first step is actually in your office now. Start by focusing on your current employees who are engaged and continually try to expand your group of high achievers. You should even use these top performers to be aware of, train, and convert any middle level or disengaged employees in your organization. You use your high achievers to grow more high achievers.

The technique involves training and empowering this core group to think and engage in problem solving. This ultimately involves all employees, but you should especially encourage your high-performance staff to work with the employees who are good at what they do, but not truly engaged. Your core group can help other, less involved staff to discover ways to heighten commitment and develop more than a superficial “buy-in” to the organization and its goals. In this way, you take your high performance group, appreciate them, and give them what they need to keep all of the parts running at maximum efficiency.

The goal is to maintain zero disengaged and no more than 15 percent in the middle group. And remember, this is a process, not a single event. You can’t assume your high-performing employees will stay that way or that a new employee will reach that level of engagement without some effort. But it’s ultimately easier than limping along with a team that’s only one-quarter engaged.


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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