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Creating a High Performance Culture in Your Neurosurgical Practice
By: Nicola Hawkinson DNP, RN
What does it mean to have a high performance culture? If you are looking to only be impressive on paper there is a good chance you are missing the opportunity for your employees to be high performing. A high performing culture means every employee wants to go above and beyond and does not settle for mediocracy. Building this type of culture is time consuming and can get overlooked. Neurosurgical practices are so busy that it is easy for there to be high turnover. Quickly hiring people to fill a void will leave you with an underperforming staff.
Keeping employees committed to giving quality care while staying on top of patient satisfaction and safety are just some examples of the day-to-day responsibilities of practice administrators. Ultimately surgeons and physicians can relate more effectively to their patients if they give them more access to care and information. Building a neurosurgical practice with a high performance culture does not happen overnight, and for many practices there are plenty of pieces that fit into the puzzle of high performance. For a neurosurgical practice to succeed, practice administrators need to be asking how to make employees work at an optimal level while keeping them motivated and engaged.
Think about your actions and how they affect the entire practice. Implementing an effective performance management process using clearly defined standards to differentiate high and low performers is one of the best actions you can take to build a high performance culture. Setting up standards is something all the physicians and surgeons in the practice should do together. Larger practices often struggle to achieve a cohesive communication system. Employees might be working specifically for a certain physician and may not communicate with employees who work for a different physician or surgeon. This could potentially lead to confusion or mistakes that could affect patients. But, if the entire practice has a set of standards in place for the organization and quality of care there are fewer chances for mistakes. For example, the entire staff should be given literature on the policies and responsibilities for the practice. Then, they will also have polices for the specific physician they are working directly for. This may sound like a lot of work, but giving your employees the tools they need to succeed is empowering for them.
Training employees starts with your hiring process. Youíve extended an offer to a new employee and now have begun the onboarding process including reference and background checks. This part of the onboarding process is incredibly important and should never be overlooked. When hiring someone for a neurosurgical practice you might have contacts or recruiters that can connect you with potential candidates. Although this is a reliable way to ensure you are getting quality candidates it does not mean you can skip the references or the background check. Unfortunately, candidates can lie about previous employment and even their education and you do not want to leave any stones unturned when hiring a new employee.
Then, you must train them in the style that is specific to your office so they can meet the needs of your patients. The training process should take anywhere between a few weeks to a few months. Do not underestimate the power of shadowing and training. Pairing your new employee with a seasoned employee is one of the most valuable things you could do to strengthen the bond between employees and create a culture of competence throughout the practice.
The better you know your own practice, the better you will be at marketing it to prospective employees. Provide training for new employees to give them the skills they need to excel and increase value to the practice. Training for employees is highly appreciated and will give them a probationary period where they know they are learning the ins and outs of the practice. Employees who are engaged have greater commitment to the practice and they go above and beyond their basic job descriptions. Having weekly staff meetings will increase office morale and keep employees interested in their jobs.
Think of staff meetings as an investment; you want to keep your staff informed about what is going on in each department. Set up an agenda for the meeting in advance so everyone knows what topics you will be covering. Including them when it comes to decisions for the practice is another way to keep staff engaged. Maybe youíre thinking about switching to a new EMR system or about creating a practice website, discuss this with your staff so they can give feedback. Donít just listen to their feedback; utilize it to better the practice. Be consistent with your communication; employees want to know that if a problem arises you will be able to take care of it in a timely and professional manner.
A high performance culture starts with communicating effectively with clinical and non-clinical staff; communicating and scheduling regular team meetings are simple ways to make the office run more efficiently giving every member of your staff the opportunity to be successful.
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